January 21, 2021

Key Points:

  • Grade K-1 return to in-person adjusted to start on February 18.
  • Asynchronous student learning continuing January 22-28 for K-1 teacher planning and preparation.
  • Grade 2-3 return to in-person (hybrid model) adjusted to start at the beginning to middle of March.
  • Grade 4-5 return to in-person (hybrid model) adjusted to start at the middle to end of March.
  • Secondary adjustment beyond March with additional information coming.

Dear LWSD Staff & Families:

Since January 6 when I announced the plans to shift learning models for our elementary learners the vast amounts of work and effort at all levels of our organization and community has been remarkable. I greatly appreciate everything that has gone into our next phase of student learning experiences. It has also provided me with some time to reflect on my personal commitments and the value of relationships. 

  • I value the relationship with our staff.
  • I value the relationship with our families.
  • I value the relationship with our community.
  • I value the relationship with our union partners.

These relationships all have a common thread which are the students we serve. The goals and outcomes we hope for our students are unchanged yet the road to those goals and outcomes are uniquely difficult right now. It is our relationships that allow us to work through these difficulties.

As Superintendent, I am charged with understanding the parts and pieces of the district and, at times, to make difficult decisions that naturally lead to frustration for some and joy for others. I am honored to work with great people across our organization and make these decisions. These decisions are made with input and information as well as our ability to accomplish our collective goals and outcomes for students.

Over the last week, I have been evaluating our next steps for shifting our elementary learning models and I have some adjustments to our timelines that I need to share with you today. Significant time and input have been gathered that led to these decisions. I have spent time listening and/or collaborating with our public health officials, our district leaders, educators, union leaders, and staff as we made updates to our current efforts.

I want to recognize that adjustments to timelines have impacts for families, students, staff and the community. I am not making these adjustments lightly and would not do this if I didn’t believe it was best for the overall health and well-being of the organization and staff which ultimately affects students.

Kindergarten and First Grade:
As you may be aware, we started negotiating our Kindergarten and First Grade Letter of Understanding with the Lake Washington Education Association in late September 2020. We signed this agreement on January 12, 2021. As a District we have collaborated with the Lake Washington Education Association for years through our bargaining and labor/management processes using what is called an Interest Based Problem Solving process. This allows for creativity and seeks to bring resolution to very difficult problems. I am proud of the work that was done in our K-1 Letter of Understanding and believe it highlights a collaborative effort. I would argue it is the best return to school Letter of Understanding that I have seen. While it took some additional time, I believe the agreement underscores our commitment to both students and staff. Again, I appreciate the relationship we have with the Lake Washington Education Association.

Part of my evaluation is to understand the scope of the work and, if necessary, make adjustments to provide for fidelity of implementation. Public Health highlighted again yesterday when I met with them that fidelity of implementation of the mitigating measures is how we achieve classroom environments that reduce the spread of the virus and maintain health and safety. These mitigating measures include face masks, attestation, physical distancing, limiting class size, minimizing building visitors, articulating and training on cleaning and safety processes and strict adherence to the LWSD COVID-19 Safety Plan.

We are implementing staffing and student placement processes that in typical times take months and we have accomplished these in days/weeks. Our systems are working very effectively. Even with all of that, there is some additional time required to ensure that we are completely prepared for our students. We need to ensure we evaluate labor management concerns related to the K-1 Letter of Understanding, ensure our certificated and classified staffing is completed, and our teachers are ready to welcome students. It should be noted that in the last 10 days we have hired 25 new teachers to Lake Washington and shifted 25 other instructional staff to support the change in learning models. These are substantial changes and additional orientation and training will lead to greater outcomes for students.

K-1 Timeline Adjustment:

  • Asynchronous Learning Week for teacher prep: January 22-28
  • K-1 Conferences: January 29, February 1 & 2
  • Instruction with current students: February 3-10
  • Schools notify families of class placement: February 8
  • Asynchronous learning for current students: February 16 & 17
  • Start of new K-1 Learning Model: February 18

Second-Fifth Grades:
We will also be adjusting the timelines for our 2nd/3rd and 4th/5th grade implementations. As I think about the need to ensure fidelity of implementation it comes with the requirement to evaluate our efforts. We will be building some additional time in between our K-1 and 2-5 implementations to ensure that any concerns or questions that arise from our K-1 implementation informs our 2-5 efforts. It should also be noted that we have not completed our bargaining with the Lake Washington Education Association related to 2nd-5th grade. While much of the K-1 Letter of Understanding can help inform this bargaining effort, there is still work and process that is a required part of our legal obligation to bargain these working conditions. Because of this requirement, I will be providing target ranges for our 2-5 implementation and will be able to specify the dates when we have completed our bargaining with the Lake Washington Education Association.

  • Second and Third Grade Implementation: Beginning to middle of March
  • Fourth and Fifth Grade Implementation: Middle to end of March

These timelines will allow us to complete the required bargaining and also evaluate our K-1 implementations.

Data Changes:
We will not be reopening the survey for staff or families based on these adjustments as this work has been completed and we are actively working to finalize staff and class rosters.

Efforts to evaluate secondary have been ongoing since January 6 as we think about appropriate supports for our secondary students. Given this adjusted timeline for elementary this has an impact on secondary as well. Initially, I had targeted March as a timeline for our secondary efforts. As you may be aware, there are significant impacts related to the development and reestablishment of a secondary master schedule. This may cause us to think creatively about providing opportunities for any student that seeks an in-person experience while making special considerations for students that are currently disengaged from school, in need of social and emotional support due to a number of factors, in need of support to graduate from high school or students that need help with executive functioning and organization of school and classes. I believe we can accomplish our goals of engaging with our students in unique ways while also ensuring that our secondary learners maintain their academic outcomes and experiences that are required for pathways and graduation. 

While I had hoped to have a more robust update for our secondary families today, it would be premature for me to make statements that are not informed by our continued evaluation of our secondary learning systems and processes. My plan is to have a more thorough update regarding secondary next week.

Additional Information for Elementary Families:
As we get ready to welcome K-1 students into schools with our new date, we want to provide you with information about the transition.  

Starting tomorrow, we will be providing K-1 students with “asynchronous” lessons to give our teachers essential time to prepare to welcome students back into schools. These lessons include literacy, math, science, social studies and computer science activities. They are designed to be completed flexibly, review previous learning, and provide the opportunity to explore additional content. There is no change in how library, PE, and music lessons are delivered during this week. If you haven’t received instructions about how to access these lessons, your child’s teacher or school will provide them to you. 

Conferences will continue as planned. For grades K-1 conferences are scheduled for January 29, February 1 and 2. For grades 2-5 conferences are scheduled for January 26, 28 and 29. 

We will follow our same remote schedules on February 3, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 10. 

On February 16 and 17, K-1 teachers will provide asynchronous lessons for their current students in order to make final preparations for a return of grades K-1. 

Grades 2-5 will continue with our same remote schedules. We will have additional information about transition dates for grades 2-5 as soon as we complete our bargaining process with the Lake Washington Education Association.

Student Learning Model Survey Results for K-5
Elementary families were asked to make a selection between a full-remote or in-person learning models this week. The K-1 survey closed at midnight on January 12 and the Grade 2-5 survey closed at midnight on January 13. Below is a table the shows the percent selections by grade level for both in-person and full remote.

Student Learning Model Survey Results K-5
Grade Level % Full Remote % In-Person
K 49.7 50.3
1 50.3 49.7
2 55.9 44.1
3 53.4 46.6
4 52.4 47.6
5 47.3 52.7
All K-5 52 48


Vaccine Update
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is managing the rollout of the two COVID-19 vaccines through a phased approach. As of Monday, January 18, 2021, DOH has approved the distribution of the vaccines to people in the following categories:

  • High-risk healthcare workers in health care settings
  • High-risk first responders
  • Long-term care facility residents
  • All other workers at risk in health care settings
  • All people 65 years or older
  • All people 50 years or older in multigenerational households (home where individuals from 2 or more generations reside such as an elder and a grandchild)

Under these guidelines, the District has worked with Kaiser Permanente and Evergreen Health to facilitate access to the vaccine for its nurses and health room office professionals who qualify under healthcare settings. Employees over the age of 65 were communicated with earlier this week given the updates to the vaccine phases by the Governor.

The District is partnering with approved vaccine providers to better facilitate and coordinate vaccination options for district employees. As the vaccine supply increases to a level that allows for expansion to the next phases of the state plan, additional communication will be provided to staff.

It should be noted that King County has not completed Phase 1A which is health care workers and emergency responders. Given the significant number of health care workers and emergency responders located in King County it has slowed the distribution of the vaccine in our county. King County Public Health has indicated that they do not believe Phases B2-4 will be opened for 2-3 months in King County. 

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