August 16, 2021
Dear LWSD Families:
I hope this message finds you well and enjoying our Northwest summer. We have been actively planning for the opening of school and have information to share with you so that you are aware of what school will look like come September. It is important to note that some decisions are locally made while other decisions are made from state level agencies and/or the Governor. I will be recording a message on Wednesday that will be broadcast live and the recording shared later that day. By recording it live, it allows us to share information in real-time but also allows us to provide written transcripts for translation and video viewing at your convenience.
Lake Washington School District is looking forward to welcoming all of our students back. The majority of students will participate in full-time, in-person learning while others, for health or safety reasons, have chosen to participate in our online learning option. We acknowledge the urgency of providing information and answering questions that many families are asking around what school will look like this fall. We also want to provide accurate information given the changing guidance that has continued throughout the summer. Families have questions regarding: physical distancing, lunch, masking-wearing, COVID-19 vaccination, testing and remote learning options just to name a few.
LWSD has created both a Back to School Information page, and an updated Pathway Forward Frequently Asked Questions webpage for families to review as they prepare for the return to school.
Please continue to check both pages for information regularly, as updates will be made in conjunction with guidance from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), Office of the Superintendent of Instruction (OSPI) and Seattle-King County Public Health. DOH just updated their guidance for schools on August 10, 2021 and we are in the process of updating our COVID-19 Safety Plan to follow their guidelines.
Live Presentation – August 18 at 10:30 a.m.
I will be giving a live presentation on Wednesday, August 18 at 10:30 a.m. to share guidance for the 2021-22 school year. You can join the Teams LIVE event by clicking here. We will also send out the recording of the event later in the day on Wednesday, August 18, and will make the recording and transcript available on our website at that time.
Implementation of Guidance
We spent time last week reviewing the Washington State Department of Health’s K-12 COVID-19 Requirements for Summer 2021 and the 2021-2022 School Year document with our district leadership team. We have clarified the pieces of the guidance that are required, such as wearing masks, and places where each school will be developing procedures given the conditions (size of school, what space is available) at their specific school.
We’re All in This Together
The communities that makeup Lake Washington School District are positioned well to continue our work of maintaining health and safe communities. Our communities have implemented the mitigating strategies very well and we are one of the most vaccinated communities in our county/state. The adherence to guidance has helped us throughout the entire pandemic. I want to remind all of us that students, staff and volunteers/visitors who have symptoms should stay home and seek medical evaluation, which may include testing for COVID-19 and other respiratory infections. Visit our “Too Sick for School?” webpage for additional information: https://www.lwsd.org/programs-and-services/health-services/too-sick-for-school.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about our return to in-person instruction:
Masks - All school personnel, volunteers, visitors, and students must wear cloth face coverings, or an acceptable alternative (e.g., surgical mask or clear face shield with a drape), at school when indoors. Staff who are verified to be fully vaccinated may be indoors without masks when students are not present or expected to be present. School districts must support compliance with mask requirements among staff, students, volunteers, visitors, and families.
Per the Secretary of Health’s Mask Order, face coverings are not required outdoors, regardless of vaccination status. Masks are strongly recommended for unvaccinated individuals when outdoors in crowded spaces or when in close contact with people from outside their household for a sustained period of time, as the risk of COVID-19 infection increases with the duration and closeness of contact between individuals. Schools should support students and staff who choose to wear a mask or face covering outdoors.
Vaccinations - COVID-19 vaccines are available to all people age 12 and older. As of today, vaccinations are not mandated to attend school. However, fully-vaccinated students and staff who do not have symptoms do not have to quarantine when exposed to COVID-19 and may not require COVID-19 testing. Read more: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/820-105-K12Schools2021-2022.pdf.
Physical Distancing - Physical distancing requirements should not prevent a school from offering full-time, in-person learning to all students/families in the fall. Maintain physical distance of three feet or more between students in classroom settings to the degree possible and reasonable, that allows for full-time, in-person learning for all students. A school’s ability to do so will depend on students’ ages, developmental and physical abilities, and available space.
Online Learning – LWSD is offering an online learning option to families or students. Students and families that select this online option will be part of a district-wide school program that is separate from our neighborhood schools. The school will have its own teachers, programs and systems of support. Students that take part in the online option will be unenrolled from their 2021-22 neighborhood or choice school. Students and families may re-enroll in their neighborhood or choice school during the 2021-22 school year or for the start of the 2022-23 school year. We ask that families in this remote learning program make transitions at regular transition times, such as Winter Break or at the semester. Learn more: https://www.lwsd.org/schools/online-learning-option-for-2021-22.
If you have additional questions, please submit them using Let’s Talk. We will continue to add to our FAQ as additional information is available.
We look forward to seeing each of our students in early September as we launch the 2021-22 school year.
Dr. Jon Holmen
Lake Washington School District