School Reopening and COVID-19 Updates
Aug. 6 update
Dear SPS Families,
In follow-up to communication shared earlier this week regarding our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, below you will find important details and information. We are responding to the guidance this week from Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz for all area schools to begin the year with distance learning. Though it’s not the situation we had hoped for, it is one for which we have prepared to address.
Starting the year with real-time distance learning, Spokane Public Schools will do all we can to help students have the best experience possible in a new, real-time learning format. We recognize that this format has a significant impact on many of our students and families, and we are partnering with community organizations to offer support. Our goal is to transition students back to in-person instruction as soon as possible pending recommendations from public health officials. Current recommendations are based on infection rates that are categorized into three levels of risk.
Families have two options for the start of school in the fall:
Option 1: Current School – with a preference to transition to in-person when it is safe to do so. This option:
- allows students to keep their same teachers from their neighborhood school throughout the school year or grading period.
- allows students to return to in-person learning when it is available.
- provides real-time remote learning that is much different from what families experienced in the spring. This improved model includes:
- Real-time school day with teacher(s)
- Identified school start and dismissal time
- Specific times scheduled for each period/subject
- Blend of live instruction, group work, and independent activities
- Specialist & elective experiences included
- Set times for intervention support and contacting teachers
- Use of Microsoft Teams as the district-wide digital platform
- Laptop check-out for all students
- Limited in-person instruction provided for small groups of students
⇒ If you’re confident that you want your child to return to in-person learning when it becomes available, this is the best choice for you.
- The school that your student is currently enrolled in will communicate with you regarding the start of classes and how students meet their teachers
Option 2: Spokane Virtual Academy – with a preference to stay virtual for the remainder of the school year. This option:
- will be led by Spokane Virtual Academy teachers and allows students to keep their same virtual learning teachers throughout the school year or grading period
- signals your intent to remain virtual for the school year, but allows for flexibility to attend school in person if you would like to when it becomes available. Requests to return to school in person will be accommodated to the greatest extent possible based on space available.
- is best for families who want flexibility during the day
⇒ If you want to remain virtual for the school year or are unsure if you would like to remain virtual, this is a good choice for you.
- Register now for Spokane Virtual Academy for the 2020-21 school year
Registration must be completed by Sunday, Aug. 16
Technology Access for Students:
SPS is providing a laptop for all students to support distance learning as well as the shift back to in-person instruction.
We recognize the significant impact a distance learning model has on childcare needs for families, and understand the sense of urgency to come up with a plan for your student(s). SPS has developed the following options and resources to offer support:
- SPS Day Camp
We will provide a full day camp for students in grades K-6 for families and staff. This low-cost or scholarship option will have limited enrollment per site to manage the total number of students in a building at any one time. Additional sites will open based on registration numbers. Enrollment will be closely managed to provide high levels of social distancing and strict adherence to safety protocols. Students will receive structure and routines that assist them with engaging in their real-time distance learning. Registration will be available next week.
- SPS Learning Centers
In partnership with community organizations, learning centers will be open for 2-3 hour periods for students in grades K-8. This option will provide a supervised location to provide structure, routine, and assistance for distance learning. Sites will be located throughout district and community spaces to enhance social distancing and accommodate a set number of students at any specific block of time. Information on times and locations will be coming soon.
- Community-Based Options
We are working with community partners to provide a list of community-based childcare options for families. A list of providers will be maintained on the district website.
- Express Program
We will continue to provide Express school-age, before and after school day care for students from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. Please visit spokaneschools.org/express to learn more and register.
District staff will continue to offer weekly webinars to families. This week’s webinar will focus on the reopening plan with a specific focus on the district’s revised distance learning plan. In addition, webinars on specific topics related to special education, technology access, and intervention services will be offered.
Special Education Q&A: Please join the Special Education department Tuesday, Aug. 11, at 6:30 p.m. to learn about the Back to School 2020 plans for students receiving special education services. There will be a short presentation followed by time for questions. Click here to register in advance.
Our goal is to provide resources and learning opportunities for families to better understand the district’s distance learning model and information for parents on the district’s digital tools. As we approach the start of school, videos and how to guides will be posted on the district website.
Starting the year with distance learning is not what we had hoped to do, but based on guidance from health officials, it is the safest choice. We will make every effort to support all our students and families as we work together to have a safe and successful school year.
Spokane Public Schools
Local, state and national resources
- WA Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)
- Spokane Regional Health District
- Washington State Department of Health
- WA State Department of Health novel coronavirus call center: 1-800-525-0127, press #
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Employment Security Department