Students in grades 3-12 expected to start in-person learning in March

In March, Tacoma Public Schools plans to welcome students in grades 3-12 to in-person learning in their schools two days per week. Cohort A will be on campus on Monday-Tuesday, and Cohort B will be on campus on Thursday-Friday. This schedule allows all TPS students, with the exception of those enrolled in Tacoma Online, to see their teachers in person at least twice a week by the end of March.

Here’s the updated schedule of start dates for each grade level, which reflects a careful, phased-in approach to the return to in-person learning, allowing staff and students time to adjust to new health-related requirements and the daily schedule. 

Grades 3-5 start dates by grade level

  • Monday, March 1: 3rd grade 
  • Monday, March 15: 4th grade 
  • Monday, March 22: 5th grade 

School principals will let families know which cohort their student is in. 

Generally, in-person learning in elementary school runs from 9:45 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.; please check your school’s website for details. 

Due to space constraints, only kindergarten, first and second grade students will return to school four days a week this school year. Grades 3-12 will remain in cohorts through the end of the school year.

Middle and high school schedules
In hybrid learning, students will attend school in-person two afternoons per week in cohorts. The schedule was created with the goal of getting middle and high school students as much time with their teachers as possible. When hybrid learning starts for middle and high school students, they will have a combination of remote and in-person learning time with their teachers at least four days a week.

Grades 6-8 start dates by grade level

  • Thursday, March 4: 6th grade (cohort B)
  • Monday, March 8: 6th grade (cohort A)
  • Monday, March 22: 7th grade
  • Monday, March 29: 8th grade 

The 6th grade cohort B group kicks off in-person learning at the middle school level in order to give all students in that grade two days of in-person learning before parent-teacher conferences start March 11. The schedule also allows 6th graders two weeks alone in the building to learn to navigate the secondary schedule, which includes the new experience of switching classrooms every period. 

Generally, in-person learning in middle school runs from 11:35 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.; please check your school’s website for details. 

Grades 9-12 start dates by grade level

  • Monday, March 15: Grade 12 
  • Monday, March 22: Grade 9 
  • Monday, March 29: Grades 10 and 11 

(Please note that SAMi, SOTA and IDEA may have different start dates; those schools will share their start dates with their families.)

The schedule allows seniors the most time back in the building of all high school students and the opportunity to serve as mentors to freshman before grades 10 and 11 return to the building. 

Generally, in-person learning in high school runs from 11:05 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.; please check your school’s website for details. 

Over the last few weeks, COVID-19 case rates in Pierce County have started dropping. As of Feb. 10, the case rate per 100,000 was 296.7, according to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. By dropping below 350, the case rate means Pierce County has shifted into the “Moderate” range, which allows TPS to bring back more students. Our plan to bring back more high school students depends on case counts continuing to decline. 

Reminder of K-2 schedule
As previously announced, younger students will return to school on this schedule, as long as case rates stay below 350. 

  • Feb. 16: Second graders start in-person learning in cohorts two days a week.
  • Feb. 16: Kindergarten students are expected to attend in-person learning four days a week
  • Feb. 22: First graders are expected to attend in-person learning four days a week
  • March 1: Second graders are expected to attend in-person learning four days a week

Printable calendar of February and March in-person start dates

Tacoma Online update
Current Tacoma Online (TOL) students may wish to switch to remote learning at their home school, and remote students may wish to switch to TOL. There is currently no wait list for TOL, and requests are being processed as quickly as possible. Schools are also working to quickly accommodate request from TOL students to switch to remote/hybrid learning, although it’s important to note enrollment into a building is based on space availability.

Find more details about the start of in-person learning on this FAQ page

TPS Media Contact

Kathryn McCarthy, Strategic Communications and Marketing Manager | 253-571-1015 |

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...


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