FAQ: Back to School 2020

  • Each Thursday, we are hosting a Zoom webinar to provide updates on our reopening plan and answer your questions. Our most frequently asked questions follow:

Reopening Schools

  • When will a decision be made about reopening school buildings?

    We are monitoring guidance from state and local government agencies as we wait for guidance from public health officials. We are preparing for both in-person instruction and a distance-only model recognizing that guidance from health officials may not enable us to open our school buildings.

  • What are the criteria used to determine whether school buildings can open?

    We are waiting for guidance from state and local health officials regarding the criteria for opening school buildings.

  • How is the district preparing teachers to give students the best learning experience possible?

    After getting feedback from teachers and working with the Spokane Education Association, we have developed a detailed training plan that we will implement in August. Our teachers already do a lot of professional development, and this will build on that. Training topics will include: understanding our back-to-school models, the latest guidelines for safety and PPE, social emotional learning in the time of a pandemic, and integrating technology and digital tools into their curriculum.
  • If school buildings are closed will breakfast and lunch still be provided?

    Yes, we will continue to distribute breakfast and lunch via our meal sites. Planning is taking place to expand access and limit the distance students need to travel.

  • If schools are closed will there be options for childcare?

    A number of local childcare providers have expressed interest in partnering with SPS and supporting parents. We hope to have a list of open facilities available for families in August.  

    During the spring and summer, Express provided full-time child care to 80 children at two locations. We intend to keep Express open as it currently is, with the possibility of expanding the service to more sites if the need arises.

  • If school buildings are open, and I still do not feel comfortable sending my students, what options do I have?

    Spokane Public Schools will be offering a virtual-only program called SPS @ Home for all students K-12 for those families who would prefer to wait until the virus spread has decreased or a vaccine has been developed.

  • When do I need to decide if I am going to enroll my student in distance learning, and when will registration be available?

    If buildings are open and families have the choice between in-person and distance learning, and after the reopening plan is approved by both the School Board and OSPI, we will have a registration process available for distance learning – likely in mid-August.

  • How will registration for SPS @ Home be affected if we begin the school year in full real-time remote learning?

    Once we receive guidance from health officials it is safe to reopen our school buildings, we will open registration for the SPS @ Home distance learning model for families who do not feel comfortable sending their student to school.

  • If I choose to enroll my student in the distance learning-only option and I want to switch back to in-person learning, will my student still have a spot at their neighborhood or option school?

    Yes, we will work to accommodate enrollment requests to the greatest extent possible. You may re-enroll in your neighborhood school at any time. At the elementary level, the timing of your student’s return may be dependent on availability of space in your child’s grade level. If your child’s grade level is full you may access a spot at the nearest elementary school with space or wait until a spot becomes available through additional students transitioning back from the distance learning option. At the secondary level, students may need to wait until the semester break as the classes may not match up to ones offered at the building level allowing for a smooth transition outside of the semester break.

  • If school buildings are open what will lunch look like?

    Elementary: Students will eat in their classrooms supervised by school staff. This will allow for social distancing requirements to continue during lunch time.

    Secondary: Students will be required to maintain social distancing requirements and schools will determine supervised lunch areas based on each school individual layout. These areas may include, commons, hallways, libraries, outside common areas, and classrooms.

  • If schools are open will I be able to still volunteer in my child’s classroom?

    For the safety of students and staff, we will be limiting the number of visitors allowed at schools. Please contact your school to schedule a day and time of when you can visit. All visitors must wear masks while on school property.

  • When do I need to decide whether my student will participate in in-person or distance learning?

    For a reopening plan to receive both school board and state approval in time for the beginning of the school year, the district hopes to consider a final proposal at the regular school board meeting Aug. 12. That would give families a two-week window to decide whether they want to send their student back to classrooms or choose a distance-learning option as well as give local health officials time to decide if opening schools is appropriate given the virus transmission rate in Spokane.

Distance Learning & Technology

  • Will teachers and students be using a common platform for online learning?

    This school year our teachers will be using Microsoft Teams, with some high school teachers continuing to use Blackboard.

  • Will families be trained on Microsoft Teams?

    One of the advantages of having a plan that uses a consistent digital tool is it is easier to provide training for families. In the coming weeks, SPS will share training videos, and provide live and self-paced trainings for families to learn about Microsoft Teams and help support their student.

  • If school buildings are closed, will my student receive live virtual instruction from their teacher(s)?

    Yes, teachers will provide instruction in real-time as well as provide screen breaks where students step away from their computer to complete work and then return at a designated time for more live instruction.

  • If we begin the school year online, how will the district support my student who struggled with distance learning last spring?

    Our school counselors and MTSS specialists will be available to meet with you to go over ways we can support your and your student. We are also planning for more real-time instruction this fall should we need to move to a distance-only model. This will allow for more teacher contact time and increased student engagement.

  • Will there be opportunities for parents to get training on distance learning prior to school beginning?

    Yes, schools will be providing training on our digital tools for families.

  • How will SPS create more equality in access for all families?

    SPS is moving to a 1:1 device model – meaning all students K-12 will be able to check out a laptop to use either in the classroom or for distance learning.

Secondary Education

  • If school buildings are closed what will secondary education look like?

    Students will participate in a real-time school day with a regular start and end time, as well as specific schedule for each period. Students will receive instruction from their teacher via Microsoft Teams in an AM learning block and a PM learning block. This will include a combination of live direct instruction, group work, and independent work.

  • If everyone is online to begin the school year, will the curriculum still prepare my high school student for college?

    Yes, our high school courses will continue to provide high quality academic programming including honors and AP classes. Many universities used a blended learning model pre-COVID, giving our students a head start on what college may look like.

  • If my senior chooses the SPS @ Home options, will they still be able to graduate with their home high school?

    Yes, seniors who opt for the full distance learning option will be able to graduate with their home high school.

  • How will music classes such as Band, Choir and Strings be offered?

    The performing arts leadership team is working to develop a safe way to continue providing music courses to students.

  • If school buildings are open, what is the plan for secondary grades?

    Secondary students will attend all six period on a rotating A/B schedule rotating between in-building instruction and virtual instruction at home. Students will receive assignments to be completed on the virtual day at home. These assignments may be a continuation of the work they started on their in-building day or new assignments that they will go over the next day with their teacher.

  • Can siblings be on the same schedule?

    For students attending on a rotating schedule, schools will work to the greatest extent possible to keep siblings on the same schedule.

  • If I choose to enroll my student in the distance learning-only option and I want to switch back to in-person learning, will my student still have a spot at their neighborhood or option school?

    Yes, we will work to accommodate enrollment request to the greatest extent possible. You may re-enroll in your neighborhood school at any time. Students may need to wait until the semester break as the classes may not match up to ones offered at the building level allowing for a smooth transition outside of the semester break.

  • Will secondary students have the opportunity to take tests like the SAT, Advanced Placement and Smarter Balanced Assessment this school year?

    We are still awaiting information on SAT and AP testing for the upcoming school year, and OSPI is currently petitioning for additional flexibility for the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Elementary Education

  • What will an elementary school day look like if buildings are closed?

    Students will participate in a real-time school day with a regular start and end time, as well as a specific schedule for each content area. Students will receive instruction from their teacher via Microsoft Teams in an AM learning block and a PM learning block. This will include a combination of live direct instruction, group work, and independent work.

  • If school buildings are closed what will preschool look like?

    Preschool teachers will provide instruction via Microsoft Teams with students assigned to either an AM block or PM block. Parents will also be provided a weekly activity bag that will include the learning activities for the week.

  • If school buildings are open, what is the plan for elementary grades?

    Grades K-4 will attend school every day with 5/6th grades on a rotating A/B model. 5/6th graders will receive assignments from their teacher to complete during their school days spent at home. These assignments will include digital programs such as Dreambox and Lexia as well as traditional assignments from their Bridges and Journeys workbooks.

  • Can siblings be on the same schedule?

    Schools will work to the greatest extent possible to keep siblings on the same schedule.

  • If I choose to enroll my student in the distance learning-only option and I want to switch back to in-person learning, will my student still have a spot at their neighborhood or option school?

    Yes, we will work to accommodate enrollment requests to the greatest extent possible. You may re-enroll in your neighborhood school at any time. The timing of your student’s return may be dependent on availability of space in your child’s grade level. If your child’s grade level is full you may access a spot at the nearest elementary school with space or wait until a spot becomes available through additional students transitioning back from the distance learning option.

Special Education

  • How will IEP services be delivered?

    If school buildings are closed, your child’s case manager will be meeting with you to discuss how to best provide services recognizing that many students require more contact time with a teacher than they had in the spring. We can provide remote academic, behavioral, OT, PT, and SLP services.

    If school buildings are open, IEPs will be delivered very similarly to the way they were pre-COVID. If a change needs to be made based on the in-person model, we are providing all students an IEP meeting that will be held to discuss those changes as an IEP team and with input from parents.

  • Will specialized transportation still be provided?

    Yes, if your student receives specialized transportation, they will continue to ride the bus. You may elect to drive them yourself -- just let transportation know ahead of time.

  • Can my student in a special program (DI, BI, MHOH, ABLE) attend school every day?

    We are working on a model where if schools are open, students in our specialized programs may attend school every day as their class size is small enough to accommodate the social distancing requirements.

  • If my special ed student is normally in a self-contained classroom, how will they access learning during real-time remote learning?

    Self-contained classroom teachers will operate on a secondary school schedule, and provide real-time instruction as if they were in a classroom. We still recognize many students will need face-to-face interactions with their teachers, and we will work to provide opportunities for students to come into their school buildings.

Option Programs

  • Is there a specific plan for option schools like Montessori, NEWTech, Pratt, On Track, The Community School and TEC?

    Each option school will develop a plan that is specific to their program while still following all health and safety guidelines.

  • If my student decides to do full distance learning, will they still be assigned to their option school?

    Students who opt for the full distance-learning option would still be assigned to their option school and will remain in distance learning until restrictions on public gatherings are lifted.

Health & Safety

  • What will be the health screening procedures for students and staff entering the school?

    Students and staff will need to perform a temperature check and/or answer a series of screening questions before entering a school building. To help streamline this process and prevent bottlenecks from happening at school entrances, we ask that families check their students’ temperatures before leaving home. We are currently exploring several digital options that are available via a cell phone app.

  • What happens if someone at school tests positive for COVID-19?

    We will notify and work closely with Spokane Regional Health District and follow their guidelines on next steps and communication.

  • When can parents send their student back to school if they have been sick?

    Students need to be fever-free without the need of medication for 72 hours before they can return to school.

  • Will the school perform contact tracing?

    SRHD will be responsible to performing contact tracing with support from SPS staff.

  • Are students required to wear a mask when they are in the building?

    Per the governor and OSPI, all students and staff are required to wear a face mask. We will have more information in August for families who would like additional support when it comes to encouraging their child to wear a face mask. If your child is unable to wear a face mask due to a medical reason or a disability, we will work with you to find a safe alternative.

  • What about students who need to see their teacher's face -- such as young children or students who are hearing impaired?

    Teachers will have a clear face shield that they can wear while more than 6 feet away from students. We are also exploring clear face masks for our staff who work with students who are hearing impaired.

  • Will students have to wear a mask or social distance at recess and PE?

    We are awaiting further guidance from public health officials on the need to wear masks outdoors or while exercising.

  • What happens if my student refuses to wear a mask at school?

    If a student chooses to not follow the mask requirement, the school will work with the student and family to problem-solve the situation treating the situation as we do other safety violations. Schools will focus on positive reinforcement and use Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) to teach and encourage the importance of wearing their mask.

Cleaning & Sanitation

  • How is SPS ensuring cleanliness between classes?

    Every classroom will be equipped with a cleaning caddy containing cleaning and sanitation supplies. Classroom desks will be cleaned after each use. At least six hand sanitizing stations will be situated throughout each school building.

  • What types of products are being used to clean the schools?

    SPS is committed to using safe and environmentally friendly products to clean our schools. Our cleaning supplies are either peroxide or alcohol-based – they are extremely effective while also less likely to irritate those with sensory issues.

  • Can students bring their own sanitation supplies?

    We are still discussing whether families can bring in their own cleaning products. We need to ensure products meet the requirements of the CDC and Health Department related to protection against COVID-19.

  • Is SPS increasing air circulation in the buildings? How will they know if the air is safe?

    Per SRHD recommendations, our Facilities department changed the control settings on our buildings’ ventilation systems to increase air flow to classrooms. We plan to continuously test the schools’ ventilation systems throughout the year to ensure classrooms are getting enough fresh air.

Transportation

  • How are buses being cleaned?

    School buses will be sanitized before and after each route. Our Transportation director is currently working with our school bus contractor, Durham School Services, to make sure their cleaning supplies and protocols meet the state’s requirements.

  • How many students are allowed on the bus?

    According to OSPI guidelines, one student will be allowed per seat. To help with air circulation, bus windows will be kept open when possible. Younger students will be encouraged to sit near the front of the bus.

  • Are masks required on buses?

    Students will be required to wear masks on the bus. Bus drivers will be equipped with extra disposable masks for students who do not have masks.

Athletics & Afterschool Activities

  • Will elementary and middle schools be able to have before/afterschool sports and or activities such as music and robotics?

    A proposal was recently submitted to the WIAA for middle school sports to mirror the high school sports calendar. Options for elementary school activities are still being discussed. Plans for before and after school enrichment activities are currently still in process awaiting more guidance for state and local health officials.

  • How will COVID-19 effect high school sports?

    The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) recently modified their sports season calendar to move moderate- and high-risk sports to the winter of 2021. In late July, District 8 (which includes the Greater Spokane League) made the recommendation that Fall Sports (Season 1) be moved to Season 3. Under this current plan, high school sports will take place following this calendar:
    • Season 2: (December 28-February 27) Basketball (Boys and Girls), Gymnastics, Wrestling
    • Season 3: (March 1-May 1) Football (February 17 start date), Volleyball, Competitive Cheerleading, Cross Country (Boys and Girls), Slowpitch Softball
    • Season 4: (April 26-June 26) Golf (Boys and Girls), Tennis (Boys and Girls), Fastpitch Softball, Track & Field (Boys and Girls), Baseball, Competitive Dance/Drill
    *Drama and Debate: These organizations are working with the WIAA to establish a calendar for the 20-21 school year.
back to school 2020