February 17, 2021
- New Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance provides confirmation of Washington state’s re-opening guidance
- Governor Inslee Press Conference – February 16, highlights his recommendations for students returning to in-person learning and a testing pilot.
- Reminder: Pathway Forward Guide and Videos for K-1 Families
Dear LWSD Staff and Families:
We are excited for our transition of learning models for our kindergarten and first grade students beginning tomorrow, February 18. Tomorrow’s transition is the culmination of significant time and energy by all involved and I am pleased to hear from our schools the excitement and high-level of preparedness for this transition.
Families that have students in grades 2-12 have patiently waited for additional details specific to their child’s experience. Our hope is that we will complete our 2-5 grade negotiations shortly so that we can announce transition timelines for these grades. For our secondary families, a long overdue update will be available shortly. As you can imagine, there are many details that need to be confirmed before providing information so that we can be as detailed as possible and give you an idea of what to expect for your child’s learning. We are continuing to target the last week in February to provide this update.
New Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Guidance
On Friday, February 12, the CDC released updated guidance related to reopening schools. It should be noted that the Washington Department of Health reviews this guidance to determine whether changes to the Washington state reopening guidance is necessary. As I have reviewed the CDC guidance, I do not see substantial differences between what has been in place here in Washington state since December 16. Additionally, Governor Inslee reports significant commonality between the new CDC guidance and Washington state guidance.
A couple of key features of the CDC and Washington state guidance are as follows:
- K-12 schools are able to re-open for in-person learning with appropriate mitigating measures in place (for example – physical distancing, wearing a mask, etc.).
- Timelines for transition back to in-person learning should prioritize youngest learners first and work to provide in-person opportunities for all K-12 students.
- Districts should analyze community transmission and test positivity rates.
- Testing and vaccine efforts are not contingencies for re-opening schools.
- The purpose of hybrid and reduced attendance schedules is to allow for physical distancing.
Washington state places additional requirements beyond what the CDC recommends. This causes us to implement specific models for learning such as hybrid or reduced attendance schedules.
CDC Guidance Documents:
- K-12 Schools COVID-19 Mitigating Toolkit
- How to Plan and Execute a COVID-19 Mitigation Walkthrough
- CDC’s Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Mitigation
Governor Inslee Press Conference – February 16
Governor Jay Inslee held a press conference on Tuesday, February 16 to discuss the return of K-12 students to schools. Governor Inslee continues to stress the importance of returning to in-person learning models. He went on to share that the state’s guidance highlights transitioning elementary grades first while making considerations for K-12. Governor Inslee stressed the information and data that provides information about the mitigating measures to help keep schools and classrooms healthy and safe. He shared information about a testing program that is currently being piloted by 13 school districts, with an additional 50 school districts to begin testing soon. LWSD continues to work with our public health partners to implement any/all recommended strategies.
Reminder: Pathway Forward Guide and Videos for K-1 Families
LWSD’s Pathway Forward Guide for K-1 Families is now available on our website. We are currently in the process of translating this guide into additional languages, and have it available on our website as both a PDF and as a page that can be translated into other languages by clicking the globe "Translate" widget at the top left corner of the website.
In addition, LWSD has created a series of videos to help families understand the basics of our Safety Plan for returning K-1 students to in-person learning. We are working to translate these videos into additional languages as well.
We highly recommend that families review the guide and the videos prior to the return of K-1 students tomorrow, February 18.
We have started receiving messages from families asking about our plans for Fall 2021. While it is too early for us to officially state our plans for fall, it is important to note that our aspiration is for our students to be able to fully return to school. As an example, one of the factors that will go into any decision making for fall is the requirements for physical distancing (specifically the class size limit of 15), as this would have impacts for how we would be able to open our buildings for all students.
Dr. Jon Holmen, Superintendent
Lake Washington School District