2020-2021 School Year Reopening Plan
Based on continued increase in COVID-19 cases notably among young people throughout the region and specifically in South King County, Renton School District will begin the 2020-2021 school year on Sept. 2 with fully in-home learning. At this time, we cannot predict how long we will remain in the in-home learning model. Our goal is to begin in-person instruction in our hybrid in-school/in-home model when public health authorities advise that it is safe. At that time, families will have the option to continue remaining with in-home learning if they choose.
We continue to work to improve in-home learning and communication between students and teachers, and provide families with childcare options for district students in kindergarten-5th-grade.
Read more about our plans below.
- School to Start Sept. 2 Fully Online (Superintendent's message)
- Work to Improve In-Home Learning
- District to Provide Fee-Based Childcare Options at Start of New School Year
- Student Chromebook & In-Home Learning Support
- Middle & High School Athletics
July 22, 2020
Renton School District Families and Staff:
When first tasked with considering potential reopening plans for the 2020-21 school year, I shared that my guiding principle would be the safety of our students and staff. While I was, and remain, committed in my desire to get our students back into schools with as much face-to-face time as possible with their teachers and peers, any decision regarding the reopening of our school buildings needs to align with the guidance from our public health officials.
On Tuesday afternoon, I met with officials from Public Health – Seattle & King County. During our meeting, they shared that they cannot imagine a way to open schools without the risk of significant transmission of COVID-19 based on the current trajectory of infections in King County.
It is for this reason that I have come to the difficult, but necessary, decision that the Renton School District will begin the 2020-21 school year on September 2nd with in-home learning only (please see below for improvements we are making to in-home learning). While I know that this is not ideal and that the decision will result in challenges for some families, I must prioritize the health and safety of our students and staff based on the current guidance from our public health officials.
At this time, we cannot predict how long we will remain in the in-home learning model. However, we will continue to monitor infection rates and rely on public health guidance to determine when we can reopen our school buildings to students.
As I shared last Wednesday, one of the lessons we should take from the spring is to expect change and the need to stay flexible. We should also never lose sight of the importance of remaining united as a community as we respond to this pandemic. While this is true for our broader community, it is particularly true for our students. They are counting on us. Working together, we can help our students and families to have the best start to the new school year as possible.
Improvements to In-Home Learning & Communication
We are making improvements to our in-home learning plan, thanks to feedback from families and staff. Moving forward, our goal is to include more live instruction, small group support, and fewer learning platforms. In addition, school teams will collaborate with families to address the individual needs of students, specifically those who qualify for special education and English language learner services. We are working with our bargaining partners now and will soon provide more details on the specifics regarding in-home learning.
Technology for Students
We know that one important resource for in-home learning is technology. With the generous support of our community, our technology levy will allow us to provide all students in grades 6-12 with their own Chromebooks and will provide Chromebooks to any K-5 students who need them. If a family needs internet connectivity, the district will provide them with a hotspot. Information regarding distribution of technology will come from schools next month.
In the spring when we had to close our schools and quickly shift to in-home learning, our educators made adjustments very rapidly and were able to rise to the challenge to varying degrees. In May, over 100 teachers worked to develop instructional models for the upcoming school year, including a full remote model, based on their experiences, current research, and feedback from students and families. The improvement to our in-home learning plans provide direction regarding several considerations, including engagement, learning task/activity for students, focus on connection, care, and belonging (SEL), the accessibility of learning tasks, implications for families, and assessment and feedback.
How will instruction be different in the fall?
Through various inputs, we recognized three major needs of students and families:
- More consistency, clarity, and organization
- Increased feedback on learning progress
- Opportunities for connection
To provide greater coherence and consistency for students and families, we’ve narrowed to two learning management systems (LMS) in our district. An LMS functions as the overall platform that organizes assignments, information, resources, assessments, feedback, collaboration and communication with students and families. At elementary school, Google Classroom will be the LMS. In middle and high school, Canvas can be used in addition to Google Classroom. For ease of access, students can log into these platforms as well as other digital tools directly through one login through the RSD Login Portal. (Visit our website for more information about how to access digital tools.)
Additionally, we are enhancing the learning opportunities for students by focusing on powerful instructional practices with digital learning tools in order to take full advantage of the different aspects of technology, including use of the features of the LMS for organization and collaboration as well as student creativity and communication. We’re also working on clear expectations around the types of learning activities that will occur in the in-home learning model.
Our students will have access to live instruction daily, with predictable schedules and routines, as well as:
- Opportunities to connect with teachers and classmates about academic content and for social/emotional connections
- Structured time and support for students who receive Special Education and/or ELL services.
- Access to recordings of instruction so they may view again or at another time
- Opportunities to receive 1:1 or small group support, as needed
- Feedback on assignments and learning progress; grades will be issued
Additionally, special education teachers and therapists and teachers of students receiving English language learning services will consult with families on instructional strategies to support families.
As Renton School District will begin the 2020-2021 school year on Sept. 2 with fully in-home learning, we’ve partnered with Right At School to provide fee-based child care services for our district students in kindergarten through fifth-grade.
The program will be offered at five locations spread across the district to make it convenient for families to use the service. Families can select any site that fits their need (you do not need to attend the site closest to your home). We will add an additional site if necessary. Current elementary school sites are:
- Campbell Hill
- Maplewood Heights
- Renton Park
Highlights of the program:
- Each site will be capped at 100 students (10 students to 1 adult); and students will have to follow health and safety protocols (including wearing a mask) while attending.
- Families are offered several attendance times during the day; and can select specific days of the week to attend. (Pre-registration for each day/week is required through Right At School.)
- Students attending will need to bring their Chromebook as they’ll continue to work online with their specific teachers from their neighborhood school.
Pricing for the camps (weekly billing):
- Morning Camp, 7:30-11:30 a.m., $30/Session
- Afternoon Camp, 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., $30/Session
- All Day Camp, 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., 55/Day
- This price reflects a 35% discounted rate for all participants from regular rates (including free/reduced lunch and educators discounts).
Sign-up now at the camp of your choice:
- Sartori - https://rightatschool-sartori-elementary.jumbula.com/#/school-day
- Hazelwood - https://rightatschool-hazelwood-elementary.jumbula.com/#/school-day
- Campbell Hill - https://rightatschool-campbell-hill-elementary.jumbula.com/#/school-day
- Renton Park - https://rightatschool-renton-park-elementary.jumbula.com/#/school-day
- Maplewood Heights - https://rightatschool-maplewood-heights-elementary.jumbula.com/view#/school-day
For more information about this Right At School program, contact, Monique Sargent, Area Manager, email@example.com 425.457.0319; Jennifer Scott - Area Manager - firstname.lastname@example.org 253.514.3165
- The fees paid by families for this program are used to pay Right At School employees who are working through the day to take care of children in the program (they are not school district staff).
- We do not have a free childcare program for essential workers for the fall. In the spring Governor Inslee directed school districts to create a free childcare program for students of essential workers. That program ended as the school year ended on July 19. There’s been no directive by the governor to start the program as we start the new school year.
How to access a Chromebook or other device
As part of our in-home learning model, students and families are accessing classroom content online. We will distribute Chromebooks to families who need them at the end of August. If your student needs a Chromebook, please complete this form. Look for more information from school leadership later this month with details for your school.
What technology support is provided through the school year?
To help ensure students can fully engage in in-home learning, we will continue to provide Chromebooks or other devices for all K-12 students. WiFi hotspots are also available for some students, so they have the tools needed to learn from a distance. During the school year, students and families will have access to in-person technology support by appointment in alignment with safety and social distancing protocols. Find that support here.
Please visit the Technology For Student Learning page to find helpful tools for managing your technology, including:
- Chromebook help - what to do when you run into problems
- Guidelines for device care
- Information about digital tools
If you still need additional support, please reach out to your teacher by email, Google Classroom or Canvas.
While Renton School District has provided many of our students and families with hotspot internet accessibility, there is still a need by some families for internet service.
- Comcast - Internet Essentials is an affordable way for homes who receive public assistance to get online. The plan is available for about $10 per month. In addition, they are increasing speeds for all customers in response to emergency measures associated with the coronavirus, and new customers receive two months free.
- Or call 1-855-846-8376 for English and 1-855-765-6995 for Spanish.
- Wave - Internet First: This program offers affordable home internet to qualifying households with service costs as low as $9.95 per month. Families are required to apply for this program, but if accepted, will automatically receive 60 days of free service!
Access In-Home Learning Digital Tools
Below are videos for how students and families can access some of our digital tools. All of these videos have subtitles. Students and families can change the language of the subtitles to meet their needs.
- Google Classroom (used in many classrooms grades K-12 for sharing assignments, resources and collaboration)
- Canvas (used in many classrooms grades 6-12 for sharing assignments, resources and collaboration)
- Zoom (for live video)
For more details, watch this video from Canvas for an overview of the platform for students; and there are many tutorial videos available on the Canvas video page. Also, this video from Google gives a good overview of Google Classroom, even though it is more aimed at teachers than students.
2020-2021 School Year Sports Seasons
New guidelines from the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) and KingCo Conference offer a chance that Renton School District athletes could start participating in interscholastic league competition with a modified and shortened sports seasons in late December. The guidelines are possible only of if King County is in Phase 3 or higher of the governor’s Safe Start Washington plan.
With those requirements in mind, here’s a possible high school athletic schedule for Renton Schools:
- Season 1: Sept. 7-Nov. 1- No interscholastic competition
- Season 2: Dec. 28-Feb. 28- Basketball, Bowling, Boys’ Swim & Dive, Gymnastics, Wrestling.
- Season 3:
- Feb. 17- May 9- Football
- March 1- April 25- Regular season Boys’ Golf, Boys Tennis (State events for these sports will take place at the end of season 4).
- March 1- May 2- Volleyball, Girls Soccer, Girls Swim & Dive, Cross Country
- Season 4:
- April 26- June 27- Girls Tennis, Fastpitch Softball, Track & Field, Baseball, Girls Golf, Boys Soccer
- June 14-June 27- State events for Boys’ Golf and Boys’ Tennis
- NOTE: WIAA is aware that the end dates for season 4 are after nearly all high school graduations. They will work with member schools/districts to come up with the best post-season plan for season 4 athletes/teams.
- All dates are tentative as we continue to adjust our school year in response to COVID-19 pandemic.
- We will attempt to open registration at least four (4) weeks prior to any permissible WIAA sport-related activity. Please continue to check the Renton School District website four weeks prior to the season start date.
- Due to shortened seasons, practices and contests could be scheduled on Saturdays and during traditional break periods such as Presidents Day and Spring Break.
MIDDLE SCHOOL SPORTS:
Middle school sports seasons will be communicated once Renton Schools is able to return to in-person learning.
- FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions: Opening School Buildings Later in School Year
- Daily School Operations: Health & Safety Protocols
- District Staff Plan
- Family Survey Response to In-Home Learning Survey (June 2020)
- Learning & Teaching Recommendations 2020-2021 School Year
- State education office guidance to reopen schools in fall
- District Partners with Others Across the Country to Prepare for School Opening in the Fall
- Plans for 2020-2021 School Year Board Presentation
These FAQs were created as we looked to start the 2020-2021 school year with a hybrid (in-school/in-home) model. On July 22, we announced that Renton Schools will start fulling in-home. We will revisit these FAQs when its safe to consider reopening school buildings.
What options might families have when school buildings reopen?
Kindergarten through 3rd grade will attend school 5 days a week with the addition of significant health and safety protocols listed below.
4th through 12th grade will attend in-person classes two days per week with the addition of significant health and safety protocols listed below. Students will attend school in-person twice each week—student group A on Mondays and Wednesdays, student group B on Tuesdays and Thursdays—and participate in remote learning three days a week.
Students whose last name starts with A-L will attend in-school classes on Monday/Wednesday; students whose last name starts with M-Z will attend in-school classes on Tuesday/Thursday (exceptions will be made for families with students whose names differ). We’ve decided on this schedule for continuity of learning for students. Rather than two days in person with five days away from school, this model allows for shorter amounts of time away from in-person learning. This will allow for more regular in-person connection with teachers and classmates in order to support learning, address misconceptions or confusion, and increase relationship-building which will support in-home learning.
Online School: We will offer a fully online program for families and students who prefer not to return to school in-person. Families will be asked to indicate their preference for a fully online option.
Pre-School, Students with Special Needs, ELL: We are working to determine how to best meet the needs of students in speciality schools (Meadow Crest Head Start/ECEAP, Meadow Crest Inclusive Preschool, Renton Academy, Talley HS) and programs (Special Education, English Language Learners). Regardless of the model chosen, IEPs will be implemented. More information will be provided to families whose students are in these schools or receiving these services.
Can I change models during the school year?
If a family of a 4th-12th grade student chooses the hybrid model (in-home and in-person learning), but then wishes to move to the Renton Online School, they may do so.
If a family chooses the Renton Online School and then wishes to move to the hybrid model (in-home and in-person learning), they will be allowed to return to their home school at the beginning of a new trimester, if space is available.
Why only allow Kindergarten thru 3rd-graders back to school full time?
Ideally, we’d like to provide in-person instruction to all students, but there are two constraints: Public Health guidance and space. Like all the districts in our region, we are planning a model that balances both; we’re fortunate to have the space in our schools to offer in-person instruction to the youngest four grade levels of learners. This is our priority because we know that they are the least able to engage in distance learning and because the impact to our youngest learners could be disproportionately greater, therefore perpetuating the historically inequitable outcomes.
Why not allow 4-12 grade students to attend school as group A Monday/Tuesday and group B Wednesday/Thursday?
(Our current plan is to have 4-12 grade students attend school as Group A Monday/Wednesday; Group B Tuesday/Thursday.)
We’ve decided on this schedule for continuity of learning for students. Rather than two days in person with five days away from school, this model allows for shorter amounts of time away from school. This will allow for more regular in-person connection with teachers and classmates in order to support learning, address misconceptions or confusion, and increase relationship-building which will support in-home learning. Students whose last name begins with A-L will be in Group A; students with last names that start with M-Z will be in Group B. We will work to allow families who have students with different last names to have those family members attend on the same days (process coming soon).
What is the plan for specialty schools and programs?
Meadow Crest Early Learning Center - We are still working on our plan for preschool. Plans may be different for Inclusive Preschool and Head Start/ECEAP, as they have different class sizes and requirements. Once we receive further guidance from the state education office, we will finalize and communicate plans.
Talley High School and Renton Academy - The minimum time for Talley HS and Renton Academy students will be aligned with the in-person hybrid model for the grade level a student is in. We are looking at adding additional in-person time as space allows.
H.O.M.E. Program - We will work with the H.O.M.E. program to determine in-person learning schedules.
Highly Capable - Families of students who have qualified for Highly Capable or Special Education will have an opportunity to choose the Renton Online Program for their students. IEPs or Student Learning Plans will help guide the instruction provided.
Will students be able to participate in sports?
Registration for high school summer athletics is now open through the time King County enters phase III of the Safe Start Washington program, through August 16. Those interested can register here. Fall sports have been delayed by the state high school athletics association (WIAA) and they will soon provide further guidance.
What about PE, band, orchestra, drama, clubs and other programs?
The Department of Health guidance states that choir, band, and some PE activities may not be safe and may need to be offered in a different way. We are awaiting further guidance to determine the safest way to hold these programs.
Health & Safety
What specific health and safety protocols will be in place for students and staff?
Please click the tab "Daily School Operations: Health & Safety Protocols" to see our daily operations.
The Washington Department of Health has stated that masks or face shields are required for students, staff, and any other visitors to the schools. There are certain exceptions for those who are medically unable to wear a mask. If a student refuses to wear a mask we will work with the student and family to educate about the requirement and the importance of face coverings in reducing the spread of the virus. As a last resort we may have to exclude a student from school. In that case we would ensure that the student has an opportunity to continue receiving their instruction remotely.
The guidelines from the state schools superintendent (OSPI) are to maintain 6-foot distance “as much as possible.” Desks will be spaced six feet apart and interactions closer than six feet will be limited. The guidelines state that passing briefly in a hallway, especially when everyone is wearing a mask, is low-risk.
The state schools superintendent has acknowledged that it is not practical to screen every student and staff member before entering the school building. We will depend on families to attest that their student does not have a fever or COVID symptoms.
What will the hand washing/sanitizing stations look like? And will there be enough supply?
Each school has a plan developed for the installation and placement of hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the school. Additionally, each classroom will have a large bottle of hand sanitizer available for routine use. An initial allocation for each school was centrally procured.
If there isn’t space in a classroom for 20 desks, will students be moved to other classrooms?
Students in grades 4-12 will have approximately 15 students at a time. Because of this, classrooms, like portables, that cannot accommodate 20 desks will be used for students in grades 4-12.
How will school meals be handled?
Some students will be served in their classrooms and some will be served in the cafeteria with social distancing. Individual school plans are being developed. Students will not be allowed to leave campus during lunch to reduce exposure to the virus. We will continue distributing meals to students on days when they are not in school.
How will school bus transportation be handled?
Generally, we are planning for our school buses to have one student per seat, with the exception of siblings. Students will be expected to have a cloth face mask upon entering the bus. Temperatures will not be taken as students enter the bus, but will be taken as they enter the school building. Buses will be cleaned and disinfected each night. Bus route times, as in previous years, will be determined and provided to families in late August.
What about childcare (before/after school)?
We will offer before- and after-school childcare (K-5) through Right at School, similar to what we have done previously, on a fee-for-service basis. Due to space, we will not be able to offer childcare for 4th and 5th grade students, on their in-home learning days. We are working with Right at School to determine if they can locate other spaces in the areas to provide childcare for 4th and 5th graders, on a fee for service basis.
What are the options for high risk staff members?
Staff who are in a high-risk category should consult with their health care provider and work with Human Resources to determine options and next steps.
Can staff transfer to teach in the Renton Online Program?
We have not yet determined which of our staff will be teaching in the Renton Online Program. We will be working with our union partners to determine a hiring/placement process for staff who are interested.
What will happen if a student or staff member thinks they have been exposed and/or has been tested for COVID-19?
We will follow Department of Health guidelines on What To Do After a COVID-19 Test.
How is the district financially able to implement increased health & safety measures?
The Federal CARES grant provides resources on a reimbursable basis for COVID-19 response mitigation efforts. Our district expects to dedicate over $3 million in CARES funding to these efforts.
While in school buildings and buses, this multi-tiered approach utilizes a range of strategies to help reduce health risks to our students, staff, and families.
Physical Distancing: We will practice physical distancing (six feet) within each group of students as much as possible. We will create space between students and reduce the amount of time they are close with each other.
Health Screening at Entry: Each day, prior to entering the school building, families and staff members will be asked to answer a series of questions to attest that they are free of COVID-19 symptoms. If families have not completed the attestation, a staff member will check the student’s temperature and look for symptoms of illness. Those showing any illness must stay home.
Cloth Face Coverings: As is a current Department of Health and state requirement, students and staff must wear cloth face coverings at school. Students may use face shields as an alternative to a cloth face covering. Even when face coverings are worn, people should continue to practice proper physical distancing.
Cleaning and Disinfecting: Schools will implement cleaning and disinfecting protocols that reflect what is currently known about COVID-19.
Protocols for Shared Hands-On Teaching Materials: Shared instructional materials will be limited to those easily cleaned and sanitized. Books and other paper-based materials are not high risk for spreading the virus.
Hygiene Practices: Hand sanitizer will be available in classrooms and other high traffic areas throughout schools. Children and adults will wash or sanitize hands when they arrive at school, before meals or snacks, after outside time, after going to the bathroom, after nose blowing or sneezing, and before leaving to go home. Additionally, plexiglass is being installed in office areas where students, families, and visitors may not be able to maintain social distances.
Students or Staff Showing COVID-19 Symptoms While at School: Anyone showing signs of illness at school will be sent home immediately. If a case of COVID-19 is confirmed, the Health Department will provide guidance on potential school closure, contact tracing, testing, and quarantine.
Drop-Off and Pick-Up: There will be modifications to school drop-off and pick-up procedures to ensure physical distancing and limit the need for families to enter the school building.
Families and Visitors: Everyone will be asked to limit their visits to essential business only.
Meals: We will limit large gatherings, provide individual servings, and sanitize group meal areas before and after eating.
School Bus Transportation:
- Maximize outside air and keep windows open as much as possible
- Encourage walking, biking, or being driven by caregivers as much as possible
- Riders and staff members must wear a cloth face covering
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
- Keep riders as far apart as possible on the bus
- How is cleaning conducted in schools and classrooms; and what products are used?:
Renton School District custodial teams have used cleaning protocols and supplies aligned with Washington State Department of Health: Guidance for Healthy Classrooms and Classroom Cleaning Tips for Teachers. Products used to clean, sanitize, and disinfect:
- DISINFECTING - Diversey - Oxivir
- Used by custodial staff to disinfect hard surfaces and touchpoints
- SANITIZING - Diversey - Virex II 256
- Used daily by custodial staff to disinfect in restrooms
- CLEANING - Diversey - Stride
- Neutral Cleaner or unscented baby wipes – Available for staff to use in classroom
- DISINFECTING - Diversey - Oxivir
Employee Safety and Health Requirements:
The guidelines for staff health and safety below are based on recommendations from the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).
Educate workers about coronavirus and how to prevent transmission and the employer’s COVID-19 policies.
Limit all indoor spaces to a capacity in which a six-foot distance can be kept between all staff, students, and others.
Maintaining a minimum six-foot separation is required between all employees, students, and others to the maximum extent feasible. When strict physical distancing is not feasible for a specific task, the employer is required to provide additional prevention measures, such as use of barriers, personal protective equipment (PPE).
Provide at no cost to employees and require to be worn PPE (face coverings, masks) as appropriate or required for the activity being performed. Cloth facial coverings must be worn by every employee not working alone on the jobsite
Ensure frequent and adequate hand washing with adequate maintenance of supplies.
Increase the frequency of facility cleaning schedules that includes cleaning and sanitizing with a particular emphasis on commonly touched surfaces.
Screen employees, students, and any other individual who will be at the school facility for more than 15 minutes, for signs/symptoms of COVID-19 at the start of every shift, including taking temperatures prior to the start of each workday or shift.
Make sure sick employees and students stay home or immediately go home if they feel or appear sick.
Cordon off any areas where an employee or students with probable or confirmed COVID-19 illness worked, touched surfaces, etc. until the area and equipment is cleaned and sanitized.
Provide high-risk individuals with their choice of access to available employer-granted accrued leave or unemployment benefits if an alternative work arrangement is not feasible.
Learning and Teaching
The work of the Learning and Teaching 2020 Steering Committee and Work Groups, which included 120 teachers, and was informed by input from students and families, has set us up well to move forward with a model in which many students are in-person some days and learning remotely other days. You can read the recommendations below, under the tab “Learning and Teaching 2020 Recommendation."
There are many details yet to be determined l, however input from students, families, and staff regarding in-home learning indicate the need for increased clarity and coherence. To that end and in alignment with guidance from OSPI, we will narrow the number of Learning Management Systems (LMS) to support in-home learning. At the elementary school level, Google Classroom will be used. At middle and high school, both Google Classroom and Canvas will be options.
Additionally, we know that teachers worked diligently to adjust their instruction this spring and that they will want to continue their professional learning. In order to understand and meet those needs, we are asking that teachers complete this short survey by July 24, 2020.
At the end of the 2019-2020 school year, we asked our students and families to offer feedback regarding their experiences with our in-home learning model as we transitioned on April 6 to in-home learning to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We also asked for their input as we crafted a plan for the coming school year (the survey was provided in English and Spanish and closed June 24).
Nearly 1,500 responded. Here are some of the findings:
- 71% say the amount of communication they received from the district was just right
- 60% say the amount of communication they received from their teacher was just right, supportive, clear
- 61% say they had the necessary technology at home for in-home learning
- 33% say they were using district-issued technology
- 52% say the amount of classwork their child received was just right
- 36% say the level of work was “basic skills focused”
- 63% say adult support for their child is almost always home
- 61% say they will feel comfortable sending their child back to school in the fall if schools meet public health guidelines
- 63% say they would not consider keeping their child home and continue in-home learning if schools are open in the fall
More than 100 district teachers and support staff from every school and department recently worked to develop learning and teaching plans for the 2020-2021 school year. A Steering Committee was charged with planning and overseeing the process to guide Work Groups to develop grade level and/or subject specific instructional models for learning and teaching in two potential conditions: fully remote learning and partial in-person/in-home hybrid.
The resulting recommendations are essentially a starting point that still require further revision and will benefit greatly from further input by our larger community. The Steering Committee and Work Groups contributed their expertise to the work to draft, revise, and refine learning model proposals and lesson plan examples. Of equal importance, the experiences, challenges, and needs of students and families over the last three months were studied by the Steering Committee and shaped our thinking and informed our recommendations.
June 11, 2020-The state education office today released guidance for how school districts may design plans for reopening schools in the fall. The Reopening Washington Schools Plan provides general guidance aimed at bringing students physically back to our schools for the 2020-2021 school year. It suggests implementation of specific health-related protocols and operational considerations to ensure safe operation but also makes allowance for continued use of alternative learning options. For our district, many areas require further coordination with and clarification from Public Health - Seattle & King County.
In the coming weeks, Renton School District will evaluate the guidance from OSPI and Public Health - Seattle & King County to determine when and to what extent we can safely open schools for in-person instruction in September. Additionally, we will continue to engage with families, staff, labor partners, and our communities to develop the best possible learning opportunities for all students.
The state education office guidance operates under the assumption that we won’t have a vaccine by September and that local communities will still be mitigating the spread of COVID-19 by minimizing large group gatherings.
With that in mind, the state workgroup has laid out three likely models for the 2020-2021 school year:
- Split or Rotating Schedules with Distance Learning
- Phased In Opening with Distance Learning
- Continuous Learning 2.0 (Distance/Remote Learning for All Students)
We will keep you updated as we learn more and continue our planning efforts.
As we work to prepare for the 2020-2021 school year, Renton School District will work in partnership with 8-10 other school districts across the country in together with the Always Ready for Learning Strategy Lab, a networked learning community facilitated by The Learning Accelerator and Bellwether Education Partners. The work by the group will help us prepare for the return-to-school in the fall and identify and plan for long-term, sustainable change to support student learning in the face of future uncertainty. The work will include:
Initial back-to-school plans for effective re-engagement – including addressing student/teacher connection to school, experienced traumas, learning status, and safety – to accelerate student progress in fall 2020 (be it in-person, remote, or a combination thereof), through targeted support based on needs identified;
Financially and operationally sustainable roadmaps for longer-term improvement and implementation of system structures and instructional models that ensure rigorous and equitable learning for every student, anywhere; and,
Connections to other district teams as well as existing experts and resource base for implementation of new models and approaches at scale.
Partnership in the Always Ready for Learning Strategy Lab will enhance the district’s planning that is already underway through the Learning & Teaching steering committee, the SEL steering committee, and logistical/operational planning.
At their regular meeting on Wednesday, June 24, Renton School Board members were presented a plan by district staff on preparing to open schools in the fall for the 2020-2021 school year.
As the state and nation continue to work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, guidance from the state and Health Department for opening schools in the fall likewise continues to develop. Renton School District's plan presented to the School Board provided clear models for learning and teaching in both in-home and partial in-school options to support student learning and growth. The plan prioritized:
- Health and safety of students & staff
- Fully in-person, if possible
- Special Education
- Newcomer ELL
- Some in-person for all grade levels
- Virtual option
Next steps for district staff are:
- Continue to gather feedback regarding model options
- Determine best model option for re -opening schools
- Continue to work on health protocols and establish processes and practices at schools/facilities
- Continue working with labor partners
- Create professional development based on teacher input
- Engage with families regarding re-opening and support needed