Stage plan and decision-making
Metrics and measurements keep changing, so they are a work in progress. Moving from one stage will likely depend on data and rate of local cases, as well as guidance from a number of organizations and entities, including the governor’s office and health officials. We will share this information as it evolves. Most importantly, we will not move to the next stage until guidance from health authorities indicates that conditions are safe enough to do so.
Who decides, when and how is a complicated answer. Opening and closing schools is based on guidance from health officials, mandates from the government and our superintendent. Other important factors include transmission rates, vaccinations and agreements with our labor groups.
Special Education and other student support services
Our Reconnect Plan and five stages prioritize in-person instruction for students who receive special services, including ELL, special education and those who are experiencing homelessness as soon as possible. While we recognize remote learning has its challenges and limitations, we can’t move into stage 2 until it’s safe to do so. Families with children who have an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) will be contacted by staff as we get closer to the school year to determine how we can best support our students. Read more specifically about special education services.
We’re working on solutions to help with child care, although we may not be able to solve all the unique challenges families will face. We are working with our local child care providers to help ensure that students can engage in learning while there, as well as provide flexibility so parents and students can participate outside of the school day as well. For more information about child care in our community please visit our child care resource page.
After-school programs are private businesses and fall under child care guidelines that allow them to limit the number of children they can chose to serve. As part of licensing, they are also restricted by lower adult-child ratios. They are also able to set their fees in a way that allows for funding based on these numbers. As a public school system, we are required to serve all students, without these same adult/child ratio restrictions. It’s also important to point out that we are not reimbursed based on the lower adult/child ratios that are required in order to meet the safety guidelines of COVID-19. We continue to problem-solve and plan with a goal of bringing our students back into our buildings safely.
Here is our best guidance at this time for families who are looking to connect with friends or others in the community and, with resources for health and safety: Thrive at home: guidelines for creating remote learning communities.
We recognize this need in our community, and our family engagement and learning pods workgroups are working on ways to connect families with each other and/or with community partners. As our teachers and other staff connect with families during the first weeks of school, please make sure to let your teacher(s) know you are interested in a learning pod, or fill out our learning pod interest form.
Supplies and technology needs
More information on textbooks and other supplies will be shared in the coming weeks. We continue to be committed to Project Free Education, where families are not asked to pay extra for school supplies.
Our goal is to ensure that all students PreK-12 have the technology they need for school and access to Wi-Fi from home. We will have a way for families to request devices and support soon. Thanks to our voter-approved technology levy, all current students in grades 6-12 already have take-home laptops. Last spring, we worked hard to provide devices for any student in grades K-5 who needed it. This fall, we will be providing 1:1 devices to our preK-5 students for the 2020-21 school year. We’re working hard to prepare these devices for our students, and will reach out soon when they are ready for pick up. Until then, please use this tech support request form to let us know about any technology needs your family may have.
Online learning program
We understand the disappointment many are feeling regarding our Aug. 5 announcement. This weighs heavy on all of us – our leaders, our staff, families, students, community partners and beyond. While we’re making big improvements in our remote learning model, we know in-person learning is better. We can’t wait to get back to the model that works and what we know. The good news is that we have smart, dedicated staff working on improved remote learning plans and schedules now. Here are some of the ways that our Reconnect Plan is already different than last spring’s remote learning:
- Attendance and participation are required, with similar expectations to in-person school.
- Most classes will be taught using the Microsoft Teams interface so students and families have fewer systems to navigate.
- Teachers will lead scheduled live (synchronous) lessons.
- Classes will be a combination of online live lessons and teacher-directed offline work, not 100% screen time.
- Students will receive regular feedback on assignments and grades will be assigned.
- Our schedules will more closely resemble typical school schedules.
- Teachers will share common learning standards.
- Teachers will also be able to personalize and differentiate for the variety of learning needs within their classrooms.
We will continue to work on safe and creative ways for students to begin coming back into our schools and/or connecting with support. As we move through the stages, more opportunities will be available. Please stay in touch with your child’s teacher(s) and principal about their needs.
All students will receive regular feedback on assignments and grades will be assigned.
Our work teams have been working all summer to plan professional development for teachers in best practices for teaching online, providing feedback, and assigning letter grades for courses earning high school credit. This continued work we had already begun through our high school grading practices task force, which has been working since spring 2019. We recognize that in a remote learning environment it’s even more important to have clear systems for teaching and grading that are accurate, bias-resistant and motivating.
Middle and elementary school teachers will continue with standards-based grading and report cards as they have for a number of years.
High school counselors and principals will be engaging with students on their path to graduation. For specific questions, please contact your student’s counselor. They will be the best resource for helping students understand all their options, including how different course loads could affect post-high school plans or athletics/activities eligibility if and when we are able to return to sports and competitions this year. As in typical years, students who meet graduation requirements during first semester may be able to graduate early. For more information on graduation requirements, please see district policy/procedure 2410.
Visit our sample schedules webpage for more information.
Athletics and activities
We greatly value athletics and activities in supporting mental and physical health and are working to provide creative opportunities within health guidelines. In July, we shared a message about our athletics facilities and return-to-play protocols. These protocols are still in place at this time.
Here are the latest updates from the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) and our high school athletics and activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- The Washington Interscholastic Athletics Assocation (WIAA) modified the 2020-21 sports season calendar to create four shortened seasons and to move moderate- and high-risk team sports, from fall to spring. WIAA took further actions:
- Moved girls swimming/diving and competitive cheer to season 3
- Approved football to begin practices on Feb. 17
- Approved season 2 sports to begin pre-competition practices Dec. 28
- More information: WIAA: July 28 Action Items and Modified Sports Seasons and WIAA: Clarification on 2020-21 Sports Season Calendar.
- The Northwest Conference, which includes all Skagit and Whatcom county high schools, unanimously voted not to participate in WIAA’s season 1, and instead to move all fall sports to season 3 on the WIAA modified sports seasons. Girls and boys cross country, football, girls soccer, boys tennis, girls swim and dive, and volleyball are now scheduled for March and April.
- The first practice date for season 2 is scheduled for Dec. 28, 2020. Due to shortened seasons, some practices and contests will likely be scheduled on Saturdays and during traditional break periods such as Presidents Day and spring break.
- Regular season practice and competition for season 4 extends until June 19, 2021.
We will continue to update you on athletics news and decisions. We’re currently working on updating FinalForms with the new WIAA modified dates. All offered sports may not be currently visible. Until this process is complete, families can prepare for participation by ensuring the student’s FinalForms information is current and, if possible, uploading a PDF of the current physical. If you have questions about FinalForms, please contact your school’s athletics/activities office after Aug. 24.
We absolutely agree with you that children need peer interaction, as well as activities and athletics. We also share your concern about the social emotional well-being of our kids and families –the same goes for our staff and community members, as well. We have staff working hard to develop creative and meaningful ways for us to engage online, and we will also continue to engage in our social-emotional curriculum and supports.