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3/19/2020 | TACOMA, Washington
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Tacoma School Board host first live, virtual Study Session. Watch recording of meeting.
Day camps expand service:
The Tacoma Whole Child Partnership has expanded day camp service to pre-K students starting March 30. Day camps will be available multiple locations from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and are open to students 3 to 12 years old. To learn more about day camp visit https://www.tacomaschools.org/news/pages/daycamp.aspx
Free meals for kids program:
Meal service has expanded starting Monday, March 30. To view the updated map visit https://bit.ly/MealsOnBusWheels. On March 27, we provided 14,680 meals to children.
On Sunday, March 29, your child's principal will call to share details on what learning will look like until school restarts. If you have children in multiple schools, you will receive multiple messages. The principals will describe how teachers and students will interact and work on assignments remotely beginning Monday, March 30.
Second, you can also expect that teachers will reach out to their students through a variety of means beginning Monday, March 30. Teachers are now working on both how they'll deliver learning activities and a plan for effectively communicating with their students.
Third, beginning Friday, March 27, Tacoma Public Schools will start contacting families with details regarding the first phase of how laptop computer distribution will work.
Meanwhile, you can count on Tacoma Public Schools to continue the services we have provided since schools closed.
We will continue providing meals to students every weekday, including during spring break, at our 10 middle schools and driving more meals through neighborhoods.
We will continue to provide day camps for the children of our hospital healthcare workers and first responders, including during spring break.
We will continue to provide hard copy packets of optional learning materials at our 10 middle schools on Tuesdays and Thursdays, although we will not distribute packets during spring break. These materials are for your use in addition to learning activities our teachers will provide.
We have many people throughout our organization working hard to support our staff, students and community. Please stay healthy and safe during these unprecedented times.
Due to increased volume of cases and limited resources, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) will now investigate and notify all confirmed COVID-19 cases for Pierce County residents. Cases in King and Snohomish counties have already implemented this change. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department will focus investigations on the highest risk groups, such as long-term care facilities and healthcare workers.
DOH will call the COVID-19 positive individual, notify them of their results, collect necessary information, and provide the "have COVID-19" guidance. The DOH representative will then ask them to notify their close contacts and share the "potentially exposed" guidance. We are asking Tacoma Public Schools employees, volunteers, community partners, students and children attending our day camps to notify us if you have received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and if the DOH has asked you to notify your close contacts. You may make your notification to Shallae Hobbs, Administrator of Health Services, (253) 571-1438 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Child, volunteer, community partner or staff not actively attending day camps (through March 27)
If a child, volunteer, community partner or staff member notifies Tacoma Public Schools of their positive COVID-19 test, the district will work with the individual to identify those people who may have been in close contact with the individual while contagious. The district will then notify those children, volunteers, partners and staff who have been identified as close contacts via phone call and email utilizing the "potentially exposed" guidance drafted by the DOH.
After March 27, the 14-day monitoring period will end for those who attended school through March 13. Given the lack of exposure in a school setting, the notification process will end and individuals who are confirmed positive would work with DOH to determine who to personally notify.
Child, volunteer, community partner or staff actively attending day camps
If a child, volunteer, community partner or staff member notifies Tacoma Public Schools of their positive COVID-19 test, the district will work with the individual to identify those people who may have been in close contact with the individual while contagious. The district will then notify those who have been identified as close contacts via letter distribution at the day camp site and/or email utilizing the "potentially exposed" guidance drafted by the DOH. The district will consult with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department to determine if a day camp must be closed due to exposure.
In addition to meals being available at our 10 middle schools, our buses make scheduled stops throughout Tacoma neighborhoods and at all elementary schools to get free breakfasts and lunches to kids ages 0 to 18. Check out the map to find the location and time closest to you. On March 26, we provided 15,904 meals to children. Find a stop near you https://bit.ly/MealsOnBusWheels.
Stay Home. Stay Healthy. For the next two weeks, Gov. Inslee requires that we all stay home to keep people safe from COVID-19. We can still go out for needed supplies and medical care, travel to work for essential jobs, and go outside for exercise, as long as we stay six feet away from people we don't live with. The order lasts for two weeks but could be extended.
The Governor's proclamation requires that:
· Everyone in Washington stay home unless they need to go out for an essential activity.
· We hold no gatherings for social, spiritual or recreational purposes.
· We close all businesses except essential businesses.
Staying home is the best way to protect ourselves, our families and the community.
The proclamation states it's still safe for people to go outside as long as we remain at least six feet from each other. Grocery stores, doctor's offices and other essential businesses will remain open. People can still participate in activities such as bike rides, gardening and dog walking — as long as we follow social distancing rules.
Free meals for kids program. In addition to meals being available at our 10 middle schools, our buses made scheduled stops throughout Tacoma neighborhoods and at all elementary schools to get free breakfasts and lunches to kids ages 0 to 18. Check out the map to find the location and time closest to you. On March 24, we provided 14,128 meals to children. Find a stop near you https://bit.ly/MealsOnBusWheels.
Printed family resource packet distribution. School staff at our 10 middle school meals sites distributed printed family resource packets for grade K-11. Packets will be available each Tuesday and Thursday during school closures. Updated packets material will be available after Spring break. Preschool packets will be available startign Thursday, March 26. All packets are available online now here: https://www.tacomaschools.org/ci/optional.
Meal-on-Bus-Wheels launched today, expanding our FREE meals for kids' program. Buses make scheduled stops throughout Tacoma neighborhoods and at all elementary schools where kids ages 0 to 18 get a free lunch and breakfast for the next day. We'll still have our 10-middle school "drive-through" meal sites. Check out the map to find the location and time closest to you. Our first day on the road provided 9,244 meals to children. Find a stop near you
Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24, and Thursday, March 26, printed family resource packets will be distributed from 10 a.m. to noon at all 10 middle school meal sites. All packets are available online now here: https://www.tacomaschools.org/ci/optional/Pages/default.aspx.
Today, teachers started routine of contacting their students to check in and make sure they know about the resources available to them, such as free meals. With these communications, teachers can also help provide a sense of normalcy to students and get an idea of what their needs might be now and until school re-opens. We want to ensure students know that even though school is out, teachers care and want to help them succeed.
It's been a very busy week for our community. Today we're proud to announce the Tacoma Public Schools in partnership with the MetroParks Tacoma, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, Greentrike, Boys and Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound and the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties will open five free, school-based day camps for the children of our community's healthcare workers and first responders on Monday, March 23.
Camps are invitation-only at the this time and will serve families identified by CHI Franciscan, MultiCare, Tacoma Police and Tacoma Fire. We will begin calling eligible families tonight.
All camps will meet the Governor's recommended safety measures, including social distancing, and students and staff will be checked for cold and flu-like symptoms before checking in each day.
If you believe you're eligible for day camp, please contact your employer's human resources office. Local hospitals and emergency services are identifying employees based on the critical need of their organization; they provide TPS lists of those employees to invite to participate in day camp.
Playground Closures: Starting Monday, March 23, school playgrounds and fields at
Bryant, Geiger, Lowell and Stanley Elementary will close for community use. Those four schools will serve as day camp sites for the children of healthcare workers and first responders who are taking care of our community during the COVID-19 outbreak. To provide children a healthy and safe environment, we'll follow guidelines for social distancing at these sites, which means we need to close the playgrounds and playfields.
We know our school grounds have been a safe place for outdoor activity during this pandemic and understand this is another adjustment for your children. We appreciate your assistance as we roll together with these changes.
Personal teacher phone calls: Beginning Monday, March 23, teachers will start a routine of contacting their students to check in and make sure they know about the resources available to them, such as free meals. With these calls, teachers can also help provide a sense of normalcy to students and get an idea of what their needs might be now and until school re-opens.
This is just one part of our plan to help care for our students during a time of uncertainty. Next to family, teachers are some of the people who know our children best. We want to ensure students know that even though school is out, teachers care and want to help them succeed.
Printed family resource packets: Beginning Tuesday, March 24, printed family resource packets will be distributed from 10 a.m. to noon at Middle School meal sites. Packet distribution will be available every Tuesday and Thursday. March 24 and 26, K-8 packets will be available, and beginning March 31, packets from high school students and students receiving special education services will be available. All packets are available online now,
Expanded meal service: During the first week of meal service we provided 23,134 meals to kids. Starting the week of March 23, we hope to serve more students by expanding our FREE meals for kids' program. Buses will make scheduled stops throughout Tacoma neighborhoods and at all elementary schools where kids ages 0 to 18 get a free lunch and breakfast for the next day. We'll still have our 10-middle school "drive-through" meal sites. Check out the map to find the location and time closest to you.
Thank you to our Labor Partners: Tacoma Public Schools is proud of our collective-bargaining groups for helping to support the Governor's order to provide nutrition services and day care for health workers and first responders. A few groups have asked the District to engage in bargaining over this call to duty. The District is engaging in good faith bargaining to discuss the effects and impacts of this call to service. All District employees are being afforded the opportunity to ask for an accommodation opting out of service if they are sick or in a high-risk category.
Meals sites serve 15,336 meals in first four days: Middle schools continue serving as regional meal distribution sites for our students. Hours are 10 a.m. to noon. Find a location near you: http://bit.ly/TPSmeals. On Thursday, March 12 a total of 5,714 meals, which is 2,857 kids.
For the health and safety of all, when collecting meals for kids, please follow health department recommendations regarding sick or immune compromised individuals and our staff will use common sense when distributing meals. These are unprecedented times and we are all working to support each other.
District office closures: To protect the health and safety of our staff and the public, Superintendent Santorno has closed the Central Administration Building and other work locations to the public and staff.
10 meals sites remain open to families: Our 10 middle schools serving as regional meal distribution sites for our students will remain open and staffed by Nutrition Services staff, security personnel and custodians. Hours are 10 a.m. to noon. All 10 sites will be open again Tuesday, March 17. Find a location near you: http://bit.ly/TPSmeals. We're proud that we worked together quickly as a team to be able to serve about 2,000 meals to our students today and look forward to serving more students in the coming weeks.
Family resources online: Our curriculum and instruction team created a family resource website for K-12. These are not meant to be educational resources or a substitute for classroom instruction but will help students practice their skills and learn independently during the closure. http://bit.ly/TPSLearning
We will continue to personally notify families when there is a close contact. For the latest information on positive COVID-19 cases in our community visit Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. To understand what it means to be a close contact this video helps explain: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=592252101362726
Please help us thank our staff for the reassuring and gracious ways they have prepared our students today for the next few weeks.
Earlier today, we shared guidance to staff on district operations for next week only—March 16-20.
Non-scheduled hourly employees are not eligible to receive pay for work at this time and have been asked to reach out the Employment Security Department as soon as possible at https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment.
All employees in the non-hourly category (including bus drivers) will be paid for the week of March 16-20.
Hourly staff identified as essential and required to report to work have been notified by their supervisors.
Non-essential hourly and salary staff: For the week of March 16, we do not plan to ask staff to work on site unless events and circumstances change during the week. We've asked staff to work remotely, stay in touch with emails, voice mails and stay close enough to their work site in case they are called to work—unless they are on previously approved leave.
Additional information and details for staff are posted on our HUB site.
Tacoma Public Schools Nutrition Services Department will provide meals to all students affected by emergency school closures beginning Monday, March 16 at our middle school buildings.
Meals will be served between 10 a.m. and noon.
Each student will receive two meals: lunch for the day and breakfast for the following morning.
Please enter through the school's bus loading zone. Our Nutrition Services staff will serve drive-thru style. Walk-ups are also welcome.
Please look for our onsite sandwich boards for additional directions.
The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has approved this process for meal distribution, which avoids people congregating in one area.
As you know, we are facing an unprecedented public health crisis. It has been a stressful few weeks as the situation evolves on a daily basis.
We have kept our schools open as long as possible, as recommended by state and local public health authorities. We know that in addition to education, schools provide vital support to our communities and that closure will have a major impact on our families.
Governor Inslee has now ordered the closure of all schools in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.
Starting Monday, March 16, our schools will close. Public health officials have told us to expect to remain closed through Friday, April 24. We will reopen Monday, April 27, 2020.
All our schools (except Lyon, Lowell and Sheridan) will remain open Friday to allow a transition day for staff and families to adjust to the closure. We respect and support any family who chooses to keep their child at home on Friday. In addition, on Friday, we want parents, students and families to retrieve medications and other essential personal items that they need to have with them while schools are closed.
Beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, all staff access to the schools will be limited to administrators, maintenance/operations staff and other essential staff needed to ensure that essential business operations can occur.
We understand that this plan will create hardship for many families, and we appreciate your patience and cooperation. The school day is the centerpiece of the lives of many people. Children count on the reliable routine that a school day offers, from the classroom setting to the many people at school who know them, care for them and provide recognition of them five days a week. Families, too, count on that routine and the knowledge that their children are cared for during the day. It allows them to tend to their work day or focus on the other pieces of life that need to be taken care of – and there are many. Contemplating weeks without that structure and care may seem overwhelming. Please know that we are doing our very best to make decisions that will help care for all of us through this time.
Friday is the last day of school for the foreseeable future. Again, on Friday, we are allowing students to collect learning materials and personal items they might need while schools are closed. Our educators are speaking with students on Friday about this closure.
We will provide parent resources. These are not meant to be a substitute for classroom instruction but will help students practice their skills and learn independently during the closure. Unfortunately, under the law Tacoma Public Schools cannot provide educational opportunities during a school closure, because we are not equipped to provide equitable opportunities for all students.
We are finalizing plans to support our families during the closure in the following ways:
We encourage you to continue to follow existing guidelines to protect your own health. The Centers for Disease Control recommends:
Here is a resource for families who may want to see a doctor but don't have one and/or those who need to enroll in public or low-cost health insurance.
On the TPCHD coronavirus page, you'll find up-to-date information, answers to frequently asked questions and links to more information from the Washington State Department of Health and the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, what steps can you take to keep yourself healthy? Check out this TPCHD infographic. View the infographic in Korean, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese or Russian.
For more information, you can call the state Department of Health at 1-800-525-0127 and press #.
Also, see the state Department of Health's website for more coronavirus information.
Stay connected:As part of our coronavirus response, we will be sending frequent updates with information and resources via email, text messages, the website and social media channels. We want to express our appreciation for the patience of our Tacoma community as we work through the daily challenges the coronavirus has presented us.
Answer: Custodians use district-approved cleaners and the District keeps on file the Material Data Safety Sheets for each of those cleaners. The District is prepared to use an EPA-approved disinfectant, Oxivir Tb, in the event that an infectious disease outbreak occurs.
Answer: Yes. Students are being encouraged to wash their hands more frequently.
Answer: Tacoma Public Schools has assembled a team of key leaders from across departments to coordinate planning, decision-making and communications. Additionally, we are in daily contact with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) regarding the international outbreak of the coronavirus, also called COVID-19.
Answer: Yes, parent-teacher conferences will continue as planned. If you would like to postpone or request a phone conference, please contact your student's teacher. If school is closed, all conferences will be postponed until a future date.
Answer: The decision to keep a student home is up to parents. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department offers some general guidance to families for when to keep your student home: English / Español
Answer: If you choose to have your child wear a mask at school, the District will respect your choice. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers guidance on the use of face masks. You may also want to discuss your choice with your health provider.
Answer: (Updated March 7, 2020) At the recommendation of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, Tacoma Public Schools has canceled school and school activities at Mary Lyon Elementary March 9 and 10. No other activities or classes are canceled at this time. We continue to work the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and will update guidance if needed.
Answer: Following travel guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, Tacoma Public Schools has canceled some student travel. We will continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. If travel is canceled, students and families will be notified.
Answer: The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department recommends families have an emergency plan in case children can't go to school or parents/guardians can't go to work and recommends that parents/guardians talk to their employer about alternative work arrangements. Read additional guidance.
Answer: TPS Custodians are assigned to each school. If additional cleaning is needed TPS can bring in a district-approved vendor for support.
This will be the first of several communications over the coming days based on the rapidly evolving coronavirus situation.
Thursday, March 12 and Friday, March 13, are early release days for parent-teacher conferences, except Willie Stewart Academy.
Families are welcome to attend in-person, but if you’d prefer to hold your conference over the phone or postpone to a later date, please contact your student’s teacher.
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department notified Superintendent Santorno this afternoon that individuals at Sheridan, Lowell, and Wilson have tested presumptive positive for the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. This is in addition to a presumptive positive test for an individual at Mary Lyon. After consultation with the Health Department, Superintendent Santorno is following the Director of Health Dr. Anthony Chen’s direction to close Sheridan and Lowell the rest of the week through Friday, March 13. Wilson will be closed Tuesday, March 10 only, due to limited exposure. Sheridan and Lowell will be
closed March 10, 11, 12, and 13; all before- and after-school activities are canceled.
Wilson will be closed Tuesday, March 10; all before- and after-school activities are canceled, including athletics.
Also, the health department has extended the closure for
Lyon Elementary. Lyon will remain
March 10 - 12. The decision to close schools is not taken lightly. We know that family schedules often revolve around students. We also understand that this news can be upsetting.
Sometimes the speed of social media travels faster than we can be notified by health experts.
We will not share any information unless it is verified by the county health department.
The closure will allow the health department to identify others who may have been exposed. Only people who came in close contact—within six feet of the individuals for 10 minutes or more—have an increased risk. We are not allowed by law to share identifying information about the individuals.
The district also will use the closure time to clean the schools.
Out of an abundance of caution, if you think you may have been exposed, follow these steps to monitor your health.
Symptoms of COVID-19 are:
Continue to follow these steps and encourage others to do so to protect against COVID-19:
We will continue to work with the Health Department and will communicate with you any additional information or guidance, including updates on when the school will reopen.
Return dates (subject to change):
If you have health questions, you can contact your doctor or healthcare provider. You may also contact the Washington State Department of Health at (800) 525-0127 and press #. The call center is open at 6 a.m.-10 p.m. 7 days a week. For the most up-to-date information on the novel coronavirus, visit www.tpchd.org/coronavirus.
We are going to provide meals for students while their school is closed.
Tacoma Public Schools Nutrition Services Department will be providing meals to all students affected by emergency school closures beginning Wednesday, March 11 at the following locations:
Meals will be served between 10 a.m. and noon to avoid large gatherings.
Each student will receive two meals, lunch, and breakfast for the following morning
Please enter through the bus loading zone. Our Nutrition Services staff will be set up to serve you drive-thru style. Walk-ups are welcome. Please look for our onsite sandwich boards for additional directions. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has approved our process for meal distribution, which avoids people congregating in one area.
Tomorrow's grab-n-go lunch will include: PB & J Uncrustable, Sunflower seeds, Carroteenies, Applesauce cup w/spoon, Cheez-it, Choice of milk
Wednesday's grab-n-go breakfast will include Cereal Bar, Raisins, Juice, Choice of milk.
If you have any questions, please email them to
email@example.com. Please refer to our online Frequently Asked Questions page, which we update throughout the day.
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department notified Superintendent Santorno this afternoon that a staff member at Lyon Elementary School has tested presumptive positive for the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
After consultation with the Health Department, Superintendent Santorno is following the Director of Health Dr. Anthony Chen’s recommendation to close Lyon for two to five days to allow time for the Health Department to identify people on campus who may have an exposure risk.
For Mary Lyon only, this means no classes or before or after school activities March 9-10.
We are not allowed by law to provide any identifying information about the individual with the presumptive case of coronavirus.
The district also will use the closure time to clean the school.
We will continue to work with the Health Department and will communicate with you any additional information or guidance the Health Department provides.
The Health Department has been prepared for this. They’ve been expecting this. Public health follows a playbook to plan for, respond to and control public health risks like COVID-19. They practice from this playbook often. This is one of those times.
We all can take these steps to help prevent the spread of viruses, including COVID-19:
For the most up-to-date information, visit
Updated: Monday, March 2, 2020, 3:15 p.m.
Tacoma Public Schools stays in daily contact with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) regarding the international outbreak of the coronavirus, also called COVID-19.
There are no known cases of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) in Pierce County, and the risk of contracting it here continues to be low, according to the TPCHD. However, the virus is likely to spread in Pierce County at some point and has affected schools in our region.
(Read the latest news release from the TPCHD about what to expect if COVID-19 comes to Pierce County.)
We want to assure you that we are monitoring the situation very closely and that we are prepared if we get a suspected case of COVID-19 in our schools. Our district takes direction from knowledgeable health authorities on steps we must take to protect the health and safety of our students, staff and community.
We know that the news around the virus can cause distress. Having accurate information can help. We encourage you to stay up to date on local information by visiting the TPCHD coronavirus website.
Please know that we take your children's health and safety very seriously; we are watching developments closely and will take all necessary steps in in coordination with TPCHD recommendations to ensure safety.
For now, the Health Department has asked Tacoma Public Schools to share with all families the Health Department's information regarding coronavirus. On the TPCHD coronavirus page, you'll find up-to-date information, answers to frequently asked questions and links to more information from the Washington State Department of Health and the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Also, see the state Department of Health's website for more coronavirus information.
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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