Seattle Public Schools says no in-person learning for at least three more months

This won’t surprise you, but Seattle Public Schools says it felt the need to make an official announcement that remote learning will continue at least through the end of the current school year’s first semester. From Superintendent Denise Juneau:

We are close to the two-month mark for this school year and while we continue to adjust to this new way of remote learning, we’ve received many questions about when SPS students will be able to return for in-person classes in our buildings. Currently, we’ve prioritized only a small number of students who receive special education services for in-person instruction.

We appreciate and hear your concerns and questions. Seattle Public Schools will remain remote with limited in-person instruction through January 28, the first semester of school. This approach is in response to an increase of COVID-19 cases in King County and after consultation with Seattle Education Association, Seattle Council PTSA, and the Principals’ Association of Seattle Schools.

There is also no guarantee that we will be able to increase in-person instruction next semester. There are many factors that need to be considered, as we closely monitor King County COVID-19 transmission rates as well as disproportionate impacts on communities of color.

Next Steps
The week of October 12, a Re-Entry Leadership Team including the Superintendent, representatives from Seattle Education Association, Principals’ Association of Seattle Schools, Seattle Council PTSA, students, and the School Board reconvened to talk about next steps. This team will meet regularly to discuss in-person learning recommendations, including prioritized students, return criteria and benchmarks, model flexibility, and options for families who aren’t ready to return in-person this school year.

Transparency and making sure families and staff have opportunities for input will be crucial as the School Board makes challenging decisions.

A public work session on in-person learning will be held November 30, 4 – 5:30 p.m. The SPS community is invited to watch online via SPSTV on YouTube, or on television (Comcast channels 26 and 319, Wave channels 26 and 695, and Century Link channels 8008 and 8508).

We are hoping to provide some certainty in this uncertain time by making this announcement today and commit to keeping you informed and included as more decisions are made going forward. Opportunities to provide feedback directly to staff and the School Board will be shared in the next couple weeks.

In-person learning ended on March 11th; the district announced at the time that schools would close for at least 14 days. Across the country, some districts that reopened schools have closed them again, like Boston.

56 Replies to "Seattle Public Schools says no in-person learning for at least three more months"

  • Person October 23, 2020 (3:44 pm)

    It’s time to have a real plan for going back and it shouldn’t take three months. Set a standard of cases per school/zip code/whatever for opening and closing. Even with a vaccine, this virus might never go away. School can’t be online forever. 

    • reality check October 23, 2020 (6:22 pm)

      3 months, or even longer, isn’t forever

  • Anne October 23, 2020 (4:06 pm)

    So open -with a standard-then if we fall below – close? Open close open close on & on.? Yes virus may never go away – but with a vaccine would be a huge step at keeping EVERYONE safe -students,  families & of course teachers. 

  • Not working October 23, 2020 (4:06 pm)

    It is time to safely get younger students back to school.  Watching K and 1st graders trying to learn to read over zoom is painful.  Get the younger teachers to take on in-person to protect the older/higher risk teachers and have those teachers take on virtual.  The damage being done to young children’s education is real for many kids.

    • AMD October 23, 2020 (5:59 pm)

      Aren’t teachers certified by grade levels?  Teachers aren’t just trained in the subject matter but also in child development because the brain works differently and absorbs information differently at different points of development (not to mention they’d have to learn the new curriculum and create a year’s worth of lesson plans overnight).  No one thinks the Zoom learning situation is ideal but the solution is to get a handle on community spread so kids can go back to class with less risk to everyone, not just decide who we’re going to sacrifice so your kid can get out of the house for a few months and then learn a REAL hard lesson about grief.

    • psps October 23, 2020 (7:08 pm)

      Whatever “damage” is being done (there really isn’t any) is a far cry from being dead or hobbled for life.

      • Alki resident October 23, 2020 (11:20 pm)

        Psps- I’m sorry you’re so clueless of the events taking place behind closed doors. But I can tell you of two situations happening regarding children. A young girl is a patient pretty far from home in a rehab because she has acquired an eating disorder due to isolation from friends, family , school and normalcy. I can tell you she’s not doing well. Secondly, there are four children that are stuck at home with both parents. One of which is an alcoholic and there’s lots of tension and zero laughter going on. I’ve also heard of sexual assaults taking place with school aged children stuck at home. Maybe others can add to my comments but kids are not ok right now. 

        • reality check October 24, 2020 (9:43 am)

          Sounds like families are not okay right now. And, sorry, but the answer to any of the issues you’ve described isn’t just, ‘get the kids back in school.’ All of the things you are describing while disturbing are not the fault of the schools being closed. These events actually happen in our society during non-pandemic times too. You do not know that any of these specific situations wouldn’t be happening anyway. I knew numerous classmates in school with eating disorders, and guess what, no pandemic or school closures to blame. Sounds like the pandemic and closures is being used as a scapegoat, a quick point of blame for these issues. The stress of the pandemic and general state of the world will continue to put pressure on families and individuals, regardless of the school closures.  Who knows if kids would even be feeling better being back in school! What if they feel worse as a result of being in school during the pandemic? Maybe it’s better for the majority to feel safe at home and with less pressures in some ways. These issues exist and so does life stress. But we can’t be irresponsible in managing a pandemic for an entire community because of these unfortunate situations arising and possibly worsening at this challenging time.    There should be a strong focus right now on wellness and resources and community interventions. We need to both manage the pandemic AND other health and family issues. We are being faced with new challenges. The answer isn’t to pretend the challenges aren’t happening and try to function as we did before, when it’s not safe or smart to do so right now, from a public health perspective.

  • Alki resident October 23, 2020 (4:29 pm)

    Listen up. My friends kids should be attending Alki Elementary, but instead they’re forced to pay $1500 a month to attend Gatewood and be babysat after school there. They can’t afford this but the parents have to work. This is an atrocity. An absolute atrocity. 

    • GatewoodGatorFan October 23, 2020 (5:11 pm)

      I realize this comment addresses an idea larger than any school name but it is important to note that the childcare available at Gatewood Elementary School is a for-profit company called The Cottage School that leases space from SPS. Gatewood itself is a free, public elementary school and a very hardworking, resourceful and vibrant one at that. 

      • Alki resident October 23, 2020 (5:44 pm)

        While he is attending small groups of 5 or 8,  there’s no reason those groups shouldn’t be at his school for free instead. Asking $1500 per child is outrageous and because of this, they’re barely making it now. And it really sucks to see some people call other parents selfish when they have no idea what’s happening in other people’s homes. NO IDEA

  • WS daddyo October 23, 2020 (4:55 pm)

    The atrocity is the disparity of wealth in this country….

    • LR October 23, 2020 (6:06 pm)


  • Mr K October 23, 2020 (4:58 pm)

    Wow. Some seriously selfish comments. This is not normal or easy, especially for parents, but that doesn’t mean you can put other people at risk because online learning isn’t working for your child. What is wrong with you all? Send in younger teachers? Everyone is at risk, they still don’t know the long term effects of this. And those teachers shouldn’t be bringing this into their lives either, some are care givers or have high risk family members. I can’t believe the entitlement that exists here. That said, the Federal/State/County/City entities need to step up more and provide assistance. You think you have it tough in West Seattle, think about all the people being pushed into poverty with children during this.

    • LR October 23, 2020 (6:12 pm)

      Mr K.  I’m quite certain that looking out for children’s well being and education is not selfish.  Watch what you say.  No one needs the insults.  There have been many places with successful returns to school.  Germany?  Pennsylvania?  

      • AMD October 23, 2020 (9:03 pm)

        Germany is spending almost $500 million on improving ventilation systems in schools to prevent the spread of COVID.  They also have a far more robust testing and tracing program than the US (teachers and students can get tested at the school itself, and get results quickly) paired with targeted quarantines of students and staff when someone tests positive, even if their results are negative.  That said, they’re starting to do lockdowns again in harder-hit areas of the country, and re-closing schools is on the table.  Pennsylvania has hit an all-time high level of new cases.  Private schools are starting to switch to online classes and school officials are recommending closure of the state’s public schools.  I don’t think we CAN re-create Germany’s success in Seattle without the support of the federal government and I don’t WANT to recreate Pennsylvania’s “success”, since that has contributed to uncontrolled spread of COVID in their state.

      • reality check October 23, 2020 (9:06 pm)

        Decisions to help manage the pandemic IS looking out for children’s wellbeing.  If a child gets sick, brings the virus home and both parents end up dying from the virus, leaving the child orphaned for life…

        … this and other family scenarios, will have more of an impact on their wellbeing than being out of school for some months or a year. They can get through this, and so can we adults. We gotta work together to get through this and keep our community well.  Things are really really hard right now. It’s going to take work to manage our personal and family stresses, lets have conversations and figure that out. Lets work on solving the challenges coming up for families, with schools being closed.

  • alkiannie October 23, 2020 (5:02 pm)

    So happy finally see our percent positive ratings reach levels similar to NY and neighboring states. Thank you to all who have made tough decisions to make this happen. There is so much more we need to learn.  While children who are infected with COVID-19 are more likely to be asymptomatic and less likely to experience severe disease (though a small subset become quite sick), they are capable of transmitting to both children and adults.What remains unclear and where evidence is still needed is: whether children are less likely to be infected than adults and, when infected, the frequency and extent of their transmission to others. There is some evidence for an age gradient in infectiousness, with younger children less likely and older children more likely to transmit at levels similar to adults.  But, we don’t know.I don’t want our percent positives to rise again. 

  • Flivver October 23, 2020 (5:24 pm)

    SPS is in a no win situation. They really do want thing’s “back to normal”. Angry parent’s have made it ABUNDANTLY clear they want their kids back in school. Problem is, if they do reopen they know that if there is a covid outbreak the SAME parents will be DEMANDING  that sps be held accountable for opening up and endangering their kids. Sigh…………….. 

  • LR October 23, 2020 (5:30 pm)

     I am so mad.   Everyone I know is so mad.  They have no plan and they don’t intend to.  Instead of having a dozen or so elementary students spread out in a classroom we have the same number crammed in a basement or a garage.  Not to mention the thousands most of us are having to pay for this private schooling.  This is wrong and they need to discuss a solution. High schoolers and probably middle schoolers can get something out of online learning.  At least to some degree.  Not 5-8 year olds.  Even one class a week in a classroom with teacher is better than zero.  They’ll do this until next fall, just watch.

    • EK October 23, 2020 (7:20 pm)

      It’s your choice to cram all those kids in a basement… you know you could avoid that by idk not inviting the neighbors over? Didn’t realize your struggles were above other people’s lives… jeez… grow up this is hard for everyone.

      • ScientistMom October 23, 2020 (9:41 pm)

        Actually some kids are grouped together because their parents have jobs caring for people with COVID. Should we take them to work?

        • reality check October 24, 2020 (10:50 am)

          There are a lot of people out of work right now. Are there really not enough available babysitters, nannies, tutors, family members, kind neighbors to help solve childcare needs while schools are closed?

    • Jack October 24, 2020 (2:32 pm)

      I don’t think students will be at school next year full time in a public school in the northwest area! This virus is now worse than ever thanks to people who don’t believe it is real.  

  • A October 23, 2020 (5:54 pm)

    Here’s what I don’t understand. Statistically this virus is less likely than the seasonal flu to kill children so can someone explain why schools are still closed? If you are saying it’s to protect the teachers then what about flight attendants, grocery store workers, bus drivers or anyone else who has to go out and possibly be exposed to this virus? Are teachers more important than the rest of us or do they just have a great union that is getting them full pay while they get to semi work from home? If you are saying it’s because kids or teachers can get the virus at school and then bring it home that argument holds no weight because as mentioned above those other workers have to take the risk of getting the virus and bringing it home. There’s really no good argument for schools to be closed. Open up the schools let’s stop ruining our children’s future this is getting absolutely ridiculous

    • JKC October 23, 2020 (8:18 pm)

      Teachers are working harder than we ever have before. Please don’t make us the enemy. 

    • reality check October 23, 2020 (8:20 pm)

      Thousands of kids, indoors, in school settings could potentially become super spreader events. Reopening schools is risky at a time when cases are on the rise and are expected to continue to rise as people are indoors more. The concern is that if its spreads in schools, those kids go home and infect family member, those family members then interact with others, and it spreads further in the community. Hospitals then can’t manage the number of hospitalizations and then, people die without being able to even receive any hospital care, because there aren’t enough resources. That is a scenario that was happening in some places at the height of the curve. Not trying to avoid this would be inhumane. Last time I checked the KC dashboard the other day, hospital beds were at 76% capacity, with just 2% covid patients. We should be conservative right now with re-openings and gatherings, heading into this season. I support this decision. Peoples lives are more important than going to school.

    • SMM October 24, 2020 (2:40 am)

      In short, strong union. The teachers are working hard but the kids aren’t learning much. I think SPS will be one of the last districts in the nation to go back to in-person learning. The plan seems to be to wait until the virus is gone to go back to school. 

    • R October 24, 2020 (9:24 am)

      We teachers are not the enemy. Your comment shows that you do not value our profession or our lives. Do you honestly think kids are going to keep their masks on in school? Especially kindergarten through second grade? How safe would that really be? So you’re OK with teachers risking their lives just so parents don’t have to help their kids with their education. What I’ve noticed is that teachers like me or working double what we normally work more in person with no support from parents who are acting like it’s a free-for-all and it’s unimportant. So parents need to take some responsibility for their children’s education. It takes a village. Your statement is very entitled

    • Kevin October 24, 2020 (2:05 pm)

      All of the jobs you listed (flight attendants, grocery store workers, bus drivers) can’t be done from home and also need to happen (argument could be made that flights are non-essential?). Teaching and learning, while a lot more work from all parties, can be done from home which is why that’s what’s being done. The alternative is to send students and teachers back to schools, risk spread (which is going to happen), and then the resulting spread throughout the community.If you could find a way for many essential workers (or non-essential workers who have gone back to work) to do their jobs from home, I’m sure that many would choose that option. And even if the individual employees didn’t, the group that oversees them might request it anyway.

  • Mj October 23, 2020 (6:11 pm)

    Wow, where is the concern regarding the adverse impact in particular to kids from more challenged families?  Elementary kids have a single teacher and doing a A and B schedule allows for social distancing and the kids are in a bubble.  It is BS this is not being done!

  • neighbor October 23, 2020 (6:20 pm)

    Just curious, how many of the purple demanding schools reopen have been doing everything possible to reduce community transmission rates? And I don’t mean just skipping the gym and massage appointments, I mean everything. No socializing in person for yourselves or your kids, 100% mask compliance, etc.  Because those of us who have high risk family members are doing everything possible, and we totally understand that it’s not safe to have in person instruction at the current level of community transmission. Yes, it sucks for us, and it sucks for our kids too, but a lot less than having a loved one die.

    • A October 23, 2020 (8:57 pm)

      So do you suggest that we just keep everything locked down and live in a bubble until the virus goes away? The virus isn’t going anywhere and from what it sounds like you are suggesting we are just going to kill the economy and all the jobs will go away and the mental health and drug addiction and suicide rates will skyrocket(they already are). I’m sorry you have an at risk loved one. I do as well and would be very concerned if he caught the virus. We can’t let that fear dominate us though and those of us that are healthy need to go out and live and get this country functioning again. Protect the vulnerable yes but not at the cost of destroying everything for those who aren’t vulnerable

      • Anne October 23, 2020 (9:43 pm)

        How about until a vaccine? No one has ever said to keep things locked down until virus goes away-that’s not likely to happen- but a vaccine would offer more protection than the nothing we have right now. That’s not fear. Love how you seem to be offering up “ the vulnerable” .  How unselfish of you. 

        • A October 23, 2020 (11:16 pm)

          Ok so when is the vaccine going to be ready for the mass public? Some estimates are mid next year so stay locked down for another eight months? Do you not understand the catastrophic affect that will have on the economy? Do you not understand how vital a healthy economy is to a healthy country? That is if everything goes well and if people are willing to take the vaccine which I highly doubt they will be. We can’t “safety” our way out of this. The virus is here to stay. It’s deadly yes, but it’s no more deadly than the seasonal flu to our young and healthy people. We have a virus that is dangerous to a small percentage of our population. We have an economic meltdown that is on the horizon for a vast majority of our population. What should we prioritize? Think about it

  • rob October 23, 2020 (7:52 pm)

     your right we need to keep the world shut down. we shut down for 6 months i already lost  my job  unemplo yment is running out an you people with jobs you can do from home are lucky. but i cant get an app to swing a hammer or fix a plumbing leak  and get paid from my home office

  • reality check October 23, 2020 (9:15 pm)

    Folks, no, the idea isn’t to close everything until the virus is completely gone. But some things should be closed and modified and put on hold until we have things better managed, better plans, more medical supplies, a vaccine in sight, etc.

    All of the concerns people have about kids wellbeing, mental health, drug use, etc. ALL of that will become worse, if the pandemic worsens, and more die.

    • A October 23, 2020 (9:45 pm)

      All of that will also worsen by not opening up and by the millions of people that have lost their jobs or their business. Every action has a reaction. The actions our government is taking is causing a reaction that is far greater than the harm this cold virus has caused. Millions unemployed, recession/ depression looming, severe mental health issues and substance abuse as a result. Since the virus was discovered more people in California have died from suicide than from covid. Wake up people we absolutely must end these lockdowns they are causing way more harm than good

  • ScientistMom October 23, 2020 (9:28 pm)

    Schools should reopen. Data are not showing kids are superspreaders in their neighborhoods. SPS needs basics masks, open windows and HEPA filters. They can do this. There is just no will. Sad for our children. We are following fear. Not data.

    • Anne October 23, 2020 (9:37 pm)

      Open windows- in our weather-sure that’s conducive to learning. Not fear not at all Do kids have to be super spreaders to infect someone? Let’s keep all safe until we have a vaccine. 

    • reality check October 23, 2020 (9:49 pm)

      No, this isn’t about following fear, it’s about responding reasonably to a pandemic situation, and that requires some modifications to our lives, to get through this better and with fewer deaths. That is just reality. Its too soon to know for sure how risky reopening our schools will be.

      This is a hard time, but parents could focus on how to manage the situation for their households. We may not be able to control schools being open or closed, but we can control how we’re going to parent and survive this as a family.

    • reality check October 23, 2020 (10:05 pm)

      And you need to read through that entire article. It is too early to determine schools are safe to reopen across the board. SPS is making a responsible decision.

    • Anna October 23, 2020 (10:31 pm)

      I was just about to post this same article Scientist mom. I totally agree. 

      • ScientistMom October 23, 2020 (10:56 pm)

        Not too soon to open Starbucks though because that is more of a priority than our children apparently.  And yes it is doable but people are fearful and we do know things to do to protect ourselves. I didn’t just read the article. I read the manuscripts. And here is some tips for how to get started. If we would just listen.

        • Anne October 24, 2020 (8:46 am)

          Baloney on the Starbucks comparison-When there is a vaccine-then open up & hopefully folks WILL “do the right things”-but not everyone are doing the right things now for Pete’s sake-but if they don’t at least there will be a vaccine to help protect us. 

  • A October 23, 2020 (10:03 pm)

    Check this out if you haven’t heard of it. Many highly educated scientists and professors are against these lockdowns.  Let’s stop living in fear and letting the media(not wsb) control our lives

    • LO October 24, 2020 (1:20 am)

      It took me 5 minutes to research this group:” After gaining some publicity, this strategy was strongly denounced by many in the scientific community. While it supposedly received 8,000 signatures from public health experts and doctors, news outlets later revealed that some of those signatures were fake.The declaration was sponsored by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian, free-market think tank headquartered in western Massachusetts. The Institute is in a network of organizations funded by Charles Koch — a right-wing billionaire known for promoting climate change denial and opposing regulations on business.”

      • A October 24, 2020 (9:36 am)

        Are you going to say the World Health Organization is funded by Charles Koch as well? You may not want to believe it but there are many highly educated people who are against these lockdowns and they should be heard

        • AMD October 24, 2020 (3:55 pm)

          The article you linked said lockdowns shouldn’t be the MAIN source of control, but they’re still justified to buy you time to regroup, reorganize and get other control measures in place.  The “other control measures” the WHO recommends getting into place during the lockdown includes test-trace-isolate procedures–something our country STILL doesn’t have in any meaningful way.  They list six metrics to achieve before lifting lockdown, the first of which is getting transmission under control.  The article you linked literally says we’re not ready to be out of lockdown because our government still hasn’t effectively controlled the spread of the virus, by the standards of the WHO.  (In reality, we’re not in an actual lockdown and never were.  If you’re going to cite the WHO as a source, you should be aware that they want us to be doing more than we collectively are, not less)

  • valvashon October 24, 2020 (9:02 am)

    Thank you LO- the always excellent Democracy Now also had a good piece on the GB Declaration, showing what a ridiculous strategy “Herd Immunity” is.  Herd Immunity means we let people get sick with the Coronavirus and die, or get it and live and hopefully not get it again, because the second time around will probably kill you. Are you up for that?  I’m not.

  • Teacher October 24, 2020 (11:50 am)

    For anyone who thinks that teachers are not working hard, please ask a teacher how they are doing. My coworkers have never worked so hard and reading that people feel that we somehow have it easy is so disheartening. Kids, by the way, are also working extremely hard. Despite distractions at home, despite being lonely, despite having internet problems, despite sometimes being hungry or being in a home that is abusive that they get NO BREAK from, despite having to babysit their younger siblings while their parents are working hard to put food on the table, despite having to learn how to navigate online learning. Just the fact that students are showing up online and turning in work deserves MAJOR kudos and high fives. And for anyone who thinks that kids in West Seattle are “fine” – we have “title one” schools right here in your neighborhood that are working like crazy to support the kids of West Seattle. These are schools where a large percentage of West Seattle kids are on reduced or free lunch programs. These are kids that may be hungry right now, despite heroic efforts to get food delivered to their homes by school employees. Your words have power. Before posting negative comments about schools, teachers or kids, please think twice. 

  • Frog October 24, 2020 (12:24 pm)

    First semester online was a done deal from the beginning.  I am surprised if anyone thought otherwise.  Also noticed that SPS launched a survey series about online learning to track their progress, with three waves — fall, winter, and [drum roll, wait for it] spring !!  Don’t get your hopes up about going back to the buildings in February.  About that vaccine also … such a nice idea from a distance, but I can’t wait to see how teachers respond when it’s really available.

  • payattention October 24, 2020 (4:39 pm)

    Frog. Your point???? I take it you, and others posting here would love to fire teachers because they’re not in the classroom. Go right ahead. Educate us as to what that will accomplish. 

  • Kathleen October 24, 2020 (9:28 pm)

    I’m a grandmother responsible for getting my 6 year old first grade and 9 year old 3rd grade grandsons through their online schooling 4 days a week. Yes it has been frustrating for everyone. The kids have been crabby at times and the teachers and I have struggled with the technology but I have to say I have been impressed by both the professionalism and determination displayed by the teachers. I think the teachers and the district have done a great job. It is what we want? No. I’d much rather be on an RV trip and my husband wishes he didn’t have to delay his retirement but if we send the kids to school more people die. That’s the reality. There should be a better federal response, it should be treated like the natural disaster it is and communities and individuals should be supported in these difficult times. And I hope teachers get a big fat raise after people bear witness to how hard a job it is. 

  • Samuella Samaniego October 25, 2020 (9:26 am)

    Kathleen,  YOU ROCK!

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