State wants kids back in classroom this fall; Snoqualmie Valley School District reopening plan expected by early July

On Thursday, June 11th, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) released guidance that was intended to help Washington state school districts as they begin planning what returning to school in the fall will look like.

While the headlines may read students will return to to classrooms this fall, there is the possibility it could be a hybrid in-class experience with many safety requirements – like face coverings and social distancing – in place.

Head of Washington schools Chris Reykdal said he wants kids back in the classroom, saying, “Learning is a social activity.” He added, “Protecting the health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority. If schools can meet the guidelines laid out today by DOH, they will likely be able to open their doors in the fall for in-person instruction.”

While OSPI says face-to-face learning is the goal, it is encouraging districts to adapt three instruction concepts should they be limited in meeting that goal this fall.

Here’s what those 3 concepts are and examples of what those learning strategies might include:

  • Split or rotating schedules with distance learning: all kids are split into groups and come to school two days per week and learn remotely otherwise
  • Phased-in opening with continuous learning: rather than splitting kids up and all coming certain days per week, ‘vulnerable’ groups (i.e. kindergarteners, seniors, ESL, special education, etc.) attend in person school and others learn remotely.
  • Continuous learning 2.0: more online learning for all, improved with a more effective remote learning system put in place.

On June 4th, the Snoqualmie Valley School Board approved the hiring of Scott Beebe as its Executive Director of Digital Learning and Innovation. This a new administrative position and was added in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the district’s 1:1 learning initiative and the general transformation of digital learning. Beebe starts on July 1st.

According to OSPI, how a district reopens school will be decided locally – in partnership with their students, staff, families, and its local health authority.

While reopening is not tied to the Governor’s Safe Start Plan, districts in Phase 1 or Modified Phase 1 must receive approval to reopen from their local health authority.

School districts that meet in person will be required to follow the DOH’s health and safety guidelines, including requirements around physical distancing, face coverings, and personal protective equipment (PPE).

The Snoqualmie Valley School District said its preference is to return 100% to “normal” – pre-COVID-19 – operations, but acknowledged that given the uncertainties of public health, that goal may not be entirely possible.

SVSD said it is currently exploring a couple different scenarios for resuming operations by the first day of school on August 31st – and hopes to have that preliminary reopening plan worked out by early July.

SVSD is asking for feedback from families regarding what School Will Look Like in the Fall via a platform called ThoughtExchange. Families can provide ThoughtExchange feedback through Tuesday, June 16th at 8PM.

Snoqualmie Valley School Board President Carolyn Simpson said, “Superintendent Manahan and his team, far in advance of the new OSPI guidelines, developed working groups to study the complex work of preparing for the many possibilities for reopening in the fall. The work is ongoing. It is important to all of us that we take into consideration the input of our stakeholders: students, parents, staff, and community via the ThoughtExchange process started this week.”

She added, “We are committed to improving the experience of continuous (remote) learning, should that be needed in some manner during the 20/21 school year. We are focused on the quality of education of our students under any of these scenarios and are committed to our education mission of preparing all kids for college career and citizenship.”

The Snoqualmie Valley School Board is required to submit a resolution with its reopening plan no later than two weeks before the start of the 2020-21 school year.

Cascade View ES classroom, March 2020. PC: CVES Facebook page

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