File photo: Seattle schools will likely start the new school year working remotely, as opposed to the hybrid plan initially considered.
File photo: Seattle schools will likely start the new school year working remotely, as opposed to the hybrid plan initially considered.

Seattle schools will likely begin the 2020-21 school year with students engaging in remote classes, as opposed to a hybrid model originally discussed.

July 22, Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau announced she will recommend the school district begin the 2020-21 school year with remote classes and to continue the remote learning model until the risk of COVID-19 transmission decreases significantly, according to a press release. Only after that, will in-person instruction resume.

The SPS Board of Directors will vote on the Juneau’s recommendation and an associated plan for fall during its regular board meeting, Aug. 12.

Initially, the school district had considered a hybrid plan that included in-person/in-school learning and remote learning.

“Every recommendation regarding this fall has been made by taking into consideration the latest data and science,” Juneau said. “The current trajectory of infection in King County and the most recent data and information from public health makes it clear that resuming school in-person this fall is impossible.”

According to the press release, countries that have managed to successfully reopen schools are those countries with declining infection rates. In King County, rates of transmission are rising, however.

Both the Seattle Education Association and the Principals Association of Seattle Schools have endorsed the recommendation for fall classes.

According to the district’s release, since the closure of SPS school buildings last spring, new research has become available, including additional updated health guidelines from national and state agencies, as well as additional data and information on school safety experiences from around the world.

“Given the increasing transmission rates, SEA fully supports opening schools this fall with remote learning only,” SEA President Jennifer Matter said in the press release. “Returning in a remote learning model means our students, staff and community can stay safe.”

According to the press release, other elements of the recommendation include:

Training for all educators to ensure live, high-quality remote instruction for students;

Developing a predictable and consistent teaching/learning schedule on common platforms, using up-to-date resources;

Ensuring students receiving specialized services are provided instruction that aligns with their Individualized Education Programs and 504 plans;

Racial-equity training for all educators “focused on student belonging, family partnerships and interrupting implicit racial bias”;

Working with different community partners in Seattle to develop solutions for continued childcare and learning at home, and continuing to provide childcare in SPS buildings for essential staff, in partnership with the city;

Providing meal distribution throughout the city for any students and families with need;

Adapting as the environment and data regarding COVID-19 continues to shift and change.

“We are committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure every student can achieve their highest potential in any learning environment,” Juneau said in the release. “Our educators have been working so hard to adapt to these new teaching conditions, and I truly believe our students will be getting the very best in remote and online learning.”

Seattle Public Schools Lead Media Relations Specialist Tim Robinson said in an email Monday, the district has not determined a plan yet for school sports, but the athletic department is working with WIAA to develop one.

He said SPS has not finalized many of its decisions, and staff are continuing to strategize about the coming year. The district will announce more information as soon as possible. For up-to-date information, including frequently asked questions for Fall 2020, go to www.seattleschools.org.