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Seattle Public Schools superintendent recommends starting school remotely this fall

The Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors will vote on the recommendation during a meeting on August 12.

SEATTLE — Seattle Public Schools (SPS) announced that it recommends starting the 2020-21 school year using a remote learning model, and “to continue the remote learning model until the risk of significant transmission of COVID-19 has decreased enough to resume in-person instruction.”

SPS Superintendent Denise Juneau made the announcement Wednesday. The SPS Board of Directors will vote on the recommendation during a meeting on August 12.

“Every recommendation regarding this fall has been made by taking into consideration the latest data and science,” said Superintendent Juneau. “The current trajectory of infection in King County and the most recent data and information from public health makes it clear that resuming school in-person this fall is impossible.”

RELATED: Washington schools reopening closely tied to COVID-19 prevention outside the classroom

The announcement is a change from the district’s previous hybrid learning plan that included in-person and remote learning.

The district said the recommended remote-only learning model was endorsed by the Seattle Education Association (SEA) and the Principals Association of Seattle Schools.

“Given the increasing transmission rates, SEA fully supports opening schools this fall with remote learning only,” said SEA President Jennifer Matter.  “Returning in a remote learning model means our students, staff, and community can stay safe.”

According to the district, other elements of the recommendation include:  

  • Training for all educators in order to ensure synchronous (live), high quality remote instruction for students.
  • Providing a predictable and consistent teaching/learning schedule on common platforms, using up-to-date resources.
  • Ensuring that students receiving specialized services are provided instruction in alignment with their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 plans.
  • Racial equity training for all educators focused on student belonging, family partnerships, and interrupting implicit racial bias.
  • Working with the Seattle Council PTSA, City of Seattle, and other community partners to develop community-generated solutions for childcare and learning at home, and continuing to provide childcare in SPS buildings for essential staff, in partnership with the City.
  • Providing meal distribution throughout the city for any students and families with need.
  • Adapting, as necessary, as the environment and data regarding COVID-19 continues to shift and change.

“We are committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure every student can achieve their highest potential in any learning environment,” said Superintendent Juneau. “Our educators have been working so hard to adapt to these new teaching conditions, and I truly believe our students will be getting the very best in remote and online learning.”

"It's sort of a relief to just know," said Stefanie Robbins, who has two children in Seattle Public Schools. "I think we just need to orient ourselves around how to make that work."

The district said more information, including details around school schedules, will be “shared as soon as possible.” A FAQ page is expected to be published on the district’s website on July 24.

RELATED: In-person or remote learning in fall? Check this list for western Washington school districts

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