State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal clarifies his guidance to Washington's 295 school districts in this video report: "In almost every district, there'll be some version of remote learning or some kind of blended learning...and not necessarily have access to the traditional (face-to-face) systems just given the exact health limitations that our districts are under."
Tacoma Public Schools, following new clarifications of OSPI guidelines published on June 11, has begun planning for a 2020-2021 school year that will have students in school part-time for face-to-face learning and distance learning the rest of the time, Superintendent Carla Santorno reported to the School Board June 25.
Strict health rules that require school districts to keep students six feet apart in classrooms to ensure their health and safety mean not all students can attend class at the same time.
District officials continue to look at hybrid options for instruction and plan to soon announce a more formal structure on in-school days vs. distance learning days. The schedules will look different at elementary, middle, and high schools.
Tacoma Public Schools will also offer a full online-only educational option for families who want that option.
In addition, the state Department of Health has mandated that all staff and students must wear face coverings (masks) unless the individual has a health condition that makes them unable to wear one.
District staff teams already have started work on a number of planning actions, including:
- Evaluating and training on health and safety protocols in collaborating with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
- Analyzing school-by-school, classroom-by-classroom to determine new classroom capacities given the mandatory six-foot social distancing requirement.
- Purchasing and preparing laptops for distribution so school can start in September with a laptop assigned to every high school student and work toward one device for each student next at middle school, then at elementary school.
- Continuing to work with community partners who can provide internet access to students.
- Exploring new meal service options for students in school and those students distance learning.
- Evaluating, purchasing and training on a new online Learning Management System that will give teachers and students a common platform for assigning, collaborating, and turning in school work.
- Examining state guidance around healthy transportation of students to determine necessary local busing changes.
- Evaluating possibilities, given health and safety requirements, for athletics, activities and before- and after-school care.
Tacoma Public Schools has established several guiding principles as we prepare for what school will look like:
- Follow the science and health department guidelines;
- Rely on previous lessons learned from closing schools in spring 2020;
- Reduce person-to-person contact;
- Keep fewer students and staff on site at any one time;
- Attempt to keep students from the same families on similar schedules;
- Explore possible robust blended learning requirements;
- Prioritize content students need to learn;
- Consider alternative definitions of full-time and part-time;
- Consider new staff roles needed in some areas;
- Maintain our functional and financial responsiveness
State Superintendent Reykdal also posted this Question & Answer document this week in response to a number of questions raised by school districts, parents, and others about fall reopening plans.
About Tacoma Schools
Tacoma Public Schools is the only district designated an Innovation Zone by Washington State. A leader in implementing innovative schools and programs to meet the diverse needs of every student, every day, TPS serves approximately 30,000 students from preschool to grade 12 and at nearly 5000 employees is one of the largest employers in Tacoma. Learn more...