January 11, 2021
Dear LWSD Families:
I want to express my appreciation for the high level of engagement from our elementary families as you are making selections about the learning model you are selecting for your child moving forward. This message is directed at elementary families to provide additional information as you finalize your selection. It is being sent to all families to provide information but is not intended to answer questions about secondary. Next Monday, I will provide an update about our efforts related to secondary.
We have received a number of questions from families that are helping to inform our FAQ. Here are responses to the most frequently asked questions from K-5 families:
Remote Learning Schedule
The remote learning schedule will be very similar to our current remote schedule. There may be adjustments to when specific content areas are taught during the day and when synchronous or asynchronous time is scheduled based on our change to a new semester or teacher assignment.
Remote Learning – Remain Connected to Neighborhood School
Students participating in Remote Learning for the remainder of the school year will remain connected with their neighborhood schools. There may be some remote classrooms that include students from neighboring schools. Students will continue to associate with their neighborhood school for communication and services. This will allow for continuity of services that go beyond the classroom while also maintaining family and communication connections with the school and PTA.
Mid-Winter Break is currently scheduled for February 11-12, and there is no school for Presidents’ Day on February 15. K-1 students will not attend school on these dates.
Vaccine Availability related to Public Health Guidance
Throughout the pandemic we have worked closely with Washington Department of Health and King County Public Health regarding our efforts to provide the modes of learning that are appropriate given the nature of the virus. Public Health has conducted an analysis of K-12 in-person learning across Washington, the United States and areas across the world to better understand the data related to COVID-19 in the school setting. The summary of their findings can be found in the opening sections of the recently released School Metrics and Toolkit guidance. Based on the findings they have updated their guidance related to K-12 schools and the provision of in-person learning services. Public Health has not made their recommendations contingent on the implementation of the vaccine given the number of unknowns and distribution timelines are speculative at this time. Based on Public Health guidance we have determined our next steps and timing. We understand the challenges associated with change and we will work to minimize those impacts by being intentional about transition activities and teacher engagement efforts.
The YMCA, Boys and Girls Club and District Extended Day staff provide care in LWSD. We are currently offering full-day childcare at 8 school locations serving approximately 180 students. The Childcare website will be updated on Tuesday with links to interest forms for childcare once we return to in-person learning. Each provider will determine if/when locations can be added based on demand. The numbers of students able to be served will be limited due to space limits in buildings and ability to hire staff.
At this time there is no change to our offering of transportation services, however our ability to transport all students may be limited due to special education routes and a reduced number of drivers. We asked in the K-5 family survey who will be riding, and routes will be developed based on that input. We anticipate reduced ridership which will help support physical distancing. All bus drivers have been trained with COVID-19 safety protocols. Masks will be required, and siblings will be required to sit on the bus together. Parents must evaluate students for symptoms of illness and take students temperature prior to sending them to the bus stop and keep them home if they are ill. Health Attestations will be done upon arrival at school. Each bus will have high touch points cleaned between routes and will be spray disinfected at the end of each day. Additional information is located on the Transportation website. Once routes are established, bus stop/pick up/drop off time information links will be posted on website and school messenger sent out to families. Our ability to expand routes depends on the number of available bus drivers. The district is recruiting for bus drivers now.
We need to continue to gather more family and staff data in order to make the best possible decision for each of our Kindergarten and first grade (K-1) choice school programs. As a result, we are delaying the start of K-1 in-person at choice schools. We are disappointed to have to delay decisions on K-1 programs for choice schools but are hopeful the delay will result in the best possible program decisions for each school.
Choice schools are unique programs that are personnel-dependent, and we will be using the data from families and staff to determine the best pathway forward for each choice school. We value keeping students and staff connected when possible so having more information will assist us in that goal.
Choice school families may still select to change to an in-person option at their neighborhood school or choose remote learning. In either case, they will still have the right to return to their choice school next year. Once we have gathered information to better help us with decisions on individual choice schools, we will communicate with families as soon as possible.
Students will not eat or drink in the classroom. Students needing to eat or drink outside of scheduled times will do so in supervised, designated areas outside of the classroom. Students will remain physically distanced. Students will only remove their mask once they have reached the designated area and are instructed to do so. Once students are done with their food/drink they will be instructed to put their masks back on. Students will wash their hands prior to returning to the classroom. Schools will have additional masks should a student damage or misplace their mask.
Grab and go meals (lunch for current day and breakfast for the next day) will be provided to all students free of charge upon dismissal. Students will receive a meal daily unless they decline during the distribution process. There is no need to pre-order the meals for your in-person student when they are at school.
Meals will be distributed as students are dismissed at the end of the day to be taken home to eat. Please help us remind your students to wait until they arrive at home to consume any food. Food should not be eaten at school or on the school bus.
Students and staff are expected to wear face masks at all times. Exceptions are made for the following circumstances:
- Temporarily needing to lower them to eat or drink (note that students will not be allowed to eat or drink in the classroom, but rather will have designated places for eating and drinking)
- Students or staff qualify for a medical exemption, in which case alternative personal protective equipment will be identified.
- A specific task prohibits the use of a face mask (such as speech therapy), in which case alternative personal protective equipment will be identified.
Students will participate in recess when receiving in-person instruction at school. Students will receive instruction on appropriate play. Students will also be expected to wear masks the entire school day including recess. Schools will have additional masks should a student damage or misplace their mask.
As a reminder, K-1 families are being asked to complete the learning model survey by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, January 12. Families of grade 2-5 students are being asked to complete the learning model survey by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, January 13. Instructions for completing the survey are available here for grades K-1, and here for grades 2-5.
Request to Change Learning Models After Survey Deadline
We will provide families with a "request" process to change from "remote to in-person" or from "in-person to remote." In order to consider and accommodate requests to the greatest extent possible there will need to be space in a classroom (remote or in person). Finding space in a remote classroom is significantly simpler than an in-person classroom. For students requesting in-person placement we will need to determine where there is available space given Department of Health requirements for distancing in classrooms which dictates class sizes. The process will require the District to respond by answering the following questions in sequential order:
- Is there space at the neighborhood school?
- Is there space at a local school?
- Are we able to open a new classroom regionally given the number of requests?
Each of these options can be potentially accomplished but will require evaluation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
We will continue to add to the FAQ as we have additional information to share. You can find the FAQ here: https://www.lwsd.org/pathway-forward/pathway-forward-faq.
Thank you for continuing to work with us as we determine our pathway forward.
Dr. Jon Holmen, Superintendent
Lake Washington School District