Edmonds School District outlines its planning process for possible reopening of schools this fall

In response to an announcement by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal that schools can reopen their doors to students this fall, the Edmonds School District Thursday night sent a letter to families stating it “is committed to exploring the viability of this reopening plan for in-person instruction.”

Here’s the full text of the letter:

Dear Edmonds School District families,

As we plan for reopening our school buildings in the fall, we want you to know that the health and safety of our students, families, staff, and community members surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic comes first.

This morning, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) released state guidelines on how schools will reopen this fall. You can read the entire document on the OSPI website. The district is committed to exploring the viability of this reopening plan for in-person instruction.

We want you to know as Dr. Kristine McDuffy steps down from her position at the end of the month, she and our new superintendent, Dr. Gustavo Balderas, are working together with the district leadership to use the new state guidelines to help make specific plans for different school scenarios when we reopen in September.

Our Commitment
We are committed to doing whatever it takes to protect our community’s health and ensure that every child can achieve to their highest level. We are committed to working with our schools, educators, families, and community partners to provide equitable support for every student’s success, with proven and responsive solutions during this unprecedented time.

How decisions will be made
We have a diverse group of educators who will be working to make the best decisions we can for our students, families and staff. The School Board will also play a critical role in approving any plans as we move into the 2020-21 school year.

Our COVID-19 Emergency Response team includes representation from the following: Superintendent, Cabinet, Technology, Student Health Services, Human Resources, Student Learning, Student Services, Business & Finance, Communications & Public Relations, Food & Nutrition Services, Facilities Operations, Diversity, Equity & Outreach, and the District Safety Officer. This team has met regularly since March 2020 and will continue to meet and make operational and logistical decisions for the district.

We also have the Continuous Learning Task Force that has been working to provide educational resources and support as we moved to a distance learning model this spring. This group has continued to meet during the closure and will now be working to plan for the different learning scenarios that could be in place for the start of school in the fall.

Back to the classroom
We all want students back in the classroom. In-person relationships with teachers and friends is important for student success, which is why our primary goal is to bring students back to school, but with recommended measures in place to protect the health and safety of our students and staff.

School will look different 
School will look different than it did before the pandemic. We will all need to adjust to the way school will work in the fall so that we can protect health and safety, while also providing the best possible environment for teaching and learning. This means that some of the following measures will likely need to be in place:

  • Adjustments to classrooms and schedules with changes to accommodate social distancing.

  • Students and staff will be asked to wear face coverings.

  • We will expect students to stay home at the first sign of any symptoms, including cough, fever, or shortness of breath.

Preparing for several different scenarios

  • Schools operating on split or rotating schedules, along with continuous remote learning.

  • Phased-in reopening of schools with continuous remote learning.

  • Continuous Learning 2.0 (similar to the remote learning in the spring of 2020, but with significant improvements).

While we want students back in the classroom, we need to be prepared in the event that we have to use a distance learning model again if our public health partners find a resurgence of infections. We will work with families and communities to ensure an equitable approach to remote learning and respond to students’ needs. We’ve learned a lot about how to deliver remote learning well, and we’ll continue to adjust and improve moving forward.

We know that remote learning raises questions for childcare and food security, and we will have plans in place to address those needs.

Hearing from our community
Earlier this week, the district sent out a Continuous Learning Survey to all 3rd-12th grade students, as well families and teachers. Your voice and input is critical for us and we will use this data in our future planning. For those families who have not yet taken the survey, we ask that you do so by Tuesday, June 16, 2020.

We will continue to update you
We expect that our back-to-school planning efforts will be ongoing throughout the summer and our plans and strategies may need to be adjusted and refined as we approach the start of the new school year. Clear and transparent decision-making is a priority for us, and we will provide regular updates to make sure you have the latest information.

Thank you!
We again want to thank our students, families and staff for working with us to address these challenging times. We are on this journey together.

Please take care!

Sincerely,

Dr. Kristine McDuffy (Outgoing Superintendent)
Dr. Gustavo Balderas (Incoming Superintendent)

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