KING COUNTY, WA — Earlier this summer Washington’s schools had reason to be optimistic: as coronavirus case counts and transmission rates dipped, the state superintendent ordered schools to prepare to reopen their classrooms for in-person learning in the fall. However, a second surge of the coronavirus has been slamming Washington over the past month, forcing districts to reconsider if they will reopen or resume remotely in the fall.
In late July, Public Health — Seattle & King County voiced support for districts that had already announced extended remote learning plans, citing concerning coronavirus trends.
“When it comes to COVID-19 activity, schools have been put in a position of having to make decisions based on the actions of our entire community, ” said Patty Hayes, the director of public health. “No educator, parent, or public health professional would choose to limit face-to-face interaction that we know is so critical for our young people, but with lives at stake, this is the difficult position schools are in.”
On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal held a press conference recommending most schools begin fall instruction remotely. The state’s recommendations are sorted among three tiers, and King County is ranked among those in the highest risk category. The guidance is not a mandate, and districts still have the authority to move forward in whatever way they deem best.
Most Puget Sound school districts have already released plans for virtual learning.
Here’s an overview of each district’s plan in King County:
(This is list will continue to be updated as more schools announce decisions about the fall)
Auburn School District: Classes will resume in September using a full distance learning model. Students will be provided a consistent daily schedule five days a week and expected to virtually attend classes. Technology will be provided to students and staff as needed.
Bellevue School District: Classes will begin with full remote learning for all families, with plans to evaluate the rest of the school year after six weeks. The district has been exploring a temporary remote model, which would allow families to opt-in for hybrid learning after infection rates are “significantly lower.”
Enumclaw School District: Enumclaw will use a 100% online learning model for the fall, developed based on community feedback over the summer. The district said the top request from families and students was to have a “consistent and predictable delivery format.” Virtual classes will require daily attendance and all students will be provided with a Chromebook to access learning materials.
Federal Way Public Schools: Classes will begin the school year with 100% remote learning, and will work alongside public health officials to determine when it might be safe to reopen schools for limited face-to-face instruction. Students in need will have access to laptops provided by the district.
Highline Public Schools: Highline will start the school year with distance learning, with plans to move toward a hybrid model as conditions become safer to do so. A workgroup is finalizing programs to expand broadband access and provide digital devices for every student. Two webinars are planned on August 11 to answer community questions.
Issaquah School District: In late July, the district superintendent recommended beginning the school year with fully-remote instruction. In the weeks ahead, the district will work to expand and improve its distance learning system to meet the needs of all students, based on feedback from parents, students and teachers.
Kent School District: School will begin with remote learning, with plans to adapt later in the year, if conditions improve. The superintendent said schools will be prepared to return to in-person instruction quickly, once it is determined safe to do so. Students will continue to be provided with laptops and the district is still handing out free hotspot devices at summer meal locations on Mondays.
Lake Washington School District: Like its neighbors, Lake Washington School District will begin classes at all schools with a fully-remote learning plan. If conditions allow for some in-person learning to resume, the district will contact parents to determine whether they want their child placed in a hybrid learning model. The district will provide laptops to all students, and families will be notified of how to check out the equipment in mid-August.
Mercer Island School District: Mercer Island will use a four-phase “continuum of learning” model, beginning the school year in first step, which includes remote learning for all. Certain students or small groups may be able to enter school buildings for some limited in-person support, in certain scenarios. The district will reevaluate conditions every three weeks to determine when to move forward in the plan, allowing more in-person learning.
Northshore School District: Students in the Northshore School District will resume classes under a 100% distance model, titled Northshore Learns 3.0 — a six-phase path to resuming more traditional activities in the months ahead. Later phases will allow for certain students to participate in limited in-person instruction until gradually all students return to school five days a week.
Renton School District: Renton will resume classes with in-home learning beginning Wednesday, Sept. 2. According to the district, the goal is to allow for a hybrid model as soon as health authorities determine it is safe, but families will be allowed to continue remote learning as long as needed. Elementary students will use Google Classroom, while middle and high school students will use Google Classroom and Canvas. The district said more than 100 teachers worked to develop remote learning models beginning in May, to improve the experience for students and staff in the fall.
Riverview School District: The Riverview School Board is considering a remote learning plan that would utilize fully-remote learning for grades 1-12, while allowing for some physically-distanced, in-person instruction for kindergarteners. Plans and learning models for a hybrid plan for all students, when it is safe to do so, are still in the works.
Seattle Public Schools: The superintendent has recommended a plan for all schools to follow a remote instruction model until COVID-19 transmission decreases. The district is working toward providing necessary technology to all students and will announce more distribution sites for families still in need. The school board will vote on the plan on Aug. 12.
Shoreline School District: Shoreline’s board of directors approved a 100% “Remote Continuous Learning 2.0″ model,” which will include virtual classes over Zoom, virtual instruction for small groups and a rigorous virtual-learning program for all grade levels. The district plans to transition to a hybrid model when public health officials give the go-ahead.
Snoqualmie Valley School District: At the end of July, the school board approved a plan to focus efforts on full-time remote learning for all students when classes resume on Aug. 31. District officials will reevaluate conditions after six weeks and determine whether they should implement a hybrid model. The earliest transition timeframe would be in early November. Plans are also underway to continue meal service for students or qualify for free or reduced-price meals, and the district is working to see how they can make meals available for purchase for other families.
Tahoma School District: Teachers will conduct virtual classes for all students, using Zoom and Google Meets, five days a week. Each day will include 5.7 hours of learning and will include a mix of some non-computer work and group projects. The district will use its existing curriculum, along with other digital applications, resources, textbooks and learning materials. Students will be provided with technology as needed.
Tukwila School District: The superintendent is recommending a full distance learning model until the risk of COVID-19 subsides enough to allow for some in-person instruction. A vote at the school board is scheduled Aug. 11, and families will receive more specifics as soon as they are available.
Patch reporter Charles Woodman contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on the Sammamish-Issaquah Patch