July 23, 2020

Dear Lake Washington Staff, Families, and Community,

Over the last week I have been actively engaged with a number of entities as we evaluate our plans for school in the fall. As you know, we have been actively working through the details of developing remote learning and a hybrid model. We also asked families to indicate their preference for which model their child would learn in to start the year. I know the amount of time and considerations each family has gone through to evaluate which model is best for their child given the amount of information provided and questions that, at times, we were not able to answer.

Today, I am announcing that Lake Washington students will be starting the 2020-21 school year learning in a fully remote setting

This means that all students will be placed in the school they were originally planning to attend in the fall and learn from the teachers at that school.  For example, if you are an Eastlake High School student that was interested in the full-remote option, you will not be pulled into a separate school with students from across the district but you will continue to be placed at Eastlake and will be taught by Eastlake teachers. Another example would be a student attending a choice school. The choice school student will be placed in the choice school and will be taught by the teachers from their specific choice school.

This decision is being made after a thorough review of available reports and local models.  Additionally, I have spent time discussing the current state of our community and county with the King County Department of Health. Given this and the limited guidance districts have received related to re-opening school in the fall; it was decided to start the school year in a remote model.

As a parent, I anticipate you will want to understand what remote teaching and learning will look like for the 2020-21 school year. As a district we learned a significant amount about remote teaching and learning last spring.  

Changes you will see this year in LWSD Remote Teaching and Learning:

  • The use of Microsoft Classroom Teams as the sole Learning Management System
  • Synchronous/Live Instruction balanced throughout the week and varying by age of the student
  • Daily attendance
  • Typical grading practice
  • Opportunity for whole and small group experiences 

Additionally, we have some students in our district that will require in-person learning. This in-person learning will allow us to better plan for returning more students to in-person instruction.

Another topic I anticipate you may have questions about is how and when we will have students return to in-person learning and experiences. First and foremost, this is not the model we prefer as a district. I know that our skilled staff working with students in-person is the best and most effective model. We are continually striving to make that happen and will continue focusing on that target with a collective urgency.  To that end, we have some specific data elements that we will evaluate during the full remote learning to help guide our decision making about when to start phasing students back into in-person teaching and learning. These data elements along with our collaboration with King County Health will help guide our next steps and decisions. We know that schools are part of the community effort to slow the spread of the virus. We also know that the models commissioned by King County Public Health state that schools re-opening when the transmission rates are over 1.0 will lead to rapid expansion of the virus within our community. This data point will be one of the factors that we evaluate throughout the fall as we balance our opportunity to have students return to in-person instruction and experiences.

We also know there are families that may need support for their school aged children due to required work responsibilities that cannot be done at home. We are currently discussing options with our child care partners and will provide an update in early August.

I hope you are able to join me tonight at 6:00 p.m. for our Teams Live Event related to the Return to School Task Force. The purpose and format of the event will shift given this decision. I will provide greater context and information about the rationale for the decision as well as a more specific description of the remote instructional model. Additionally, since this is all new information, we will not be holding a live question and answer session during the event, but we will follow up with a K-12 Insight survey to gather questions related to this change.

I can’t thank you enough for continuing to be engaged in this work with us. We are committed to providing your child with a positive and meaningful school experience this year.  Our sole focus over the next six weeks will be to further develop our systems, provide training for staff, and ensure that all students and families are connected to their school/classroom/teacher to begin learning on the first day of school.

Thank you,
Dr. Jon Holmen