October 5, 2020


Dear LWSD Families,

Over the last few weeks, I received feedback regarding the timing of my Return to School Task Force emails dropping on Friday afternoons. Moving forward, I will be sending Return to School Task Force updates on Mondays. I will also modify format to provide key information up front with greater detail in the body of the message.

Key Message Information:

  1. Elementary Conferences canceled and schedule modified.
  2. COVID-19 trends show increase over two-week period with most recent data continuing to show higher rates of transmission.
  3. 40% of families requested the remote school option while 60% of families requested in-person learning for their Kindergarten or First Grade student.
  4. K-1 in-person model still on track to be communicated mid-October.
  5. K-1 remote model continuing to be articulated to ensure meaningful connection with neighborhood schools and services.
  6. District to allow requests for change in request for in-person and remote learning after in-person learning model is released.

Elementary Conferences canceled and schedule modified:
At this time, we are canceling our traditional goal setting conferences for the week of October 12. We know that teachers have had significant communication with families at the beginning of the school year and we are working to accommodate the needs of multiple stakeholders in our remote environment. Here is the updated schedule for the week of October 12:

  1. Monday (10/12) & Tuesday (10/13) – Regular school days 
  2. Wednesday (10/14) – Regular Wednesday early-release schedule 
  3. Thursday (10/15) – AM: Half day for Students and PM: Teacher individual/team planning and optional professional development 
  4. Friday (10/16) – No school – Teacher LEAP Day 

The afternoon of Thursday, October 15 is for teachers to participate in individual and/or team planning or to participate in optional professional development. Knowing the number of curriculum and technology changes this year, that afternoon can provide some additional time to do the work teachers identify for themselves.

Kim Brenner, the Director of Early Learning will communicate directly with preschool staff and families and Dr. Shannon Hitch, the Executive Director of Special Services, will communicate with staff and families who have students receiving special education in-person services with plans for the week of October 12.


COVID-19 Trends:
We continue to monitor the data related to the spread of the virus. One of the major complicating factors with entering fall is the onset of flu/cold season. Given the symptoms for the flu, the common cold and COVID-19 are all similar, it will complicate attestation (daily health checks) and may cause students or teachers to be unable to come to school.

Over the last two weeks the spread of the virus has started to increase vs. stabilize or continue to fall as seen in late August and early September. Lake Washington School District is still listed as a moderate-risk district which, according to the Decision Tree, means we should be actively planning to return our youngest learners for in-person learning. A confounding factor in this effort will be if the rates move our district back into the high-risk categorization which, according to the Decision Tree, means we maintain our current implementation of Remote Learning. I have said a number of times, one of the worst academic outcomes, even if remote learning is challenging, would be to bounce students between in-person and remote learning because the virus data keeps changing and is not at a level that affords the opportunity for a safe reopening of schools for K-1 learners.

Transmission Rate
King County Public Health targets a transmission rate less than 1.0 to slow the spread of COVID-19.

✓ Current transmission rate in King County is at 1.1.

Cases per 100,000 residents
King County Public Health targets cases per 100,000 to be under 25. The Decision Tree places districts in the moderate-risk category when they have cases between 25-75 per 100,000 residents over the last 14 days.

✓ Currently, King County has 53 cases per 100,000 residents over the last 14 days (reported 9/30/20). Kirkland, Redmond, and Union Hill have seen increases in cases over that same period while Sammamish has seen a decrease during that period of time.

K-1 in-person learning model:
The District is actively working on the many parts of finalizing the K-1 in-person learning model. There are so many variables involved with shifting from remote learning to in-person learning. While it seems like a simple shift, the number of requirements placed on districts to implement in-person is significant. 

We also know that a number of regional large districts have had to pause on their implementation of in-person learning due to the challenges with getting every detail in place. In-person learning will not look/feel like regular school as we still are dealing with the impacts of the global pandemic.  Our commitment is to implement in-person learning in a manner that has the highest standards for health and safety. We believe we will be able to provide the K-1 model information to families by mid-October. Currently, 60% of families requested in-person learning services for their kindergarten or first grade student.

Remote learning model:
Many of our students will also shift to the Remote Learning Model, even as some students return to in-person. The Remote Learning Model will be a permanent placement for the 2020-21 school year unless parents complete the process to request a change. We value each individual decision that is being made by families - there isn’t a right or wrong answer about in-person or remote learning. 

Ensuring meaningful connections with our families and schools is a critical part of our work and shifting to the Remote Learning Academy model does not change this value.  We will communicate more about this as we develop systems and internal structures for this to continue.  

As I think about this shift for families, I have identified the following goals:

  1. Focus on relationships
  2. Continued high-quality learning
  3. Intentional connections with home/neighborhood school
  4. Well-articulated services

K-1 family request to change after model announced:
After the District announces the K-1 learning model in the next two weeks, families will be able to submit a request to change from their initial submission/request. We believe that we will be able to accommodate most change requests given the current numbers for remote and in-person learning. Requests for in-person learning may be limited by the availability of space in any given school.  Families who request a change after students have shifted to their new learning model (in-person or Remote Academy) will be required to follow a formal change request process.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jon Holmen, Superintendent
Lake Washington School District