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September 18, 2020

Dear KSD Community,

As the second full week of school comes to an end. I am writing to you today with a few critical updates in line with our goal of meaningful two-way communication.

One thing we knew starting this year is that it would take all of us; students, families, staff, and our community, working together to support a safe and successful 2020-2021 school year. I appreciate your patience, your feedback, and allowing us the time necessary to make changes to provide meaningful learning for our students in this remote environment.

Elementary Schedules

OSPI requires all schools to meet the same number of instructional minutes during remote learning. Those minutes can be completed via synchronous and asynchronous instruction. Meeting this requirement involves some level of instructional engagement for an average of 6.25 hours each day for students using multiple modalities to access learning.

The sample remote learning schedules provided to all of our schools from the Back to School Task Force served as guides for each school community. These were designed to allow for flexibility at school sites to ensure student learning needs are met.

After experiencing the schedules these first two weeks of school and listening to feedback from families, labor partners, and staff, we have decided on the following recommendations to modify elementary remote learning schedules.

By Monday, September 28, all elementary schools will adjust schedules for live instruction Monday through Friday, with a few exceptions due to start times and Specials schedules, students will complete their live instruction before lunch. Students will continue to have “asynchronous” learning or work students do independently daily after lunch. Just as it is now synchronous learning when teachers and students engage in instructional activities simultaneously will continue to be flexible and may include teacher instruction, small group instruction, or independent learning.

Preparing for a Transition to Hybrid

On August 13, the Kent School Board of Directors officially approved our Back to School 2020-21 Plan in compliance with OSPI, State Board of Education, and Department of Health (DOH) guidelines for reopening. This approval included a Hybrid Plan, which consists of both in-person and remote instruction for KSD students.

As of September 16, King County had an infection rate of 55 cases per 100,000 residents. This is encouraging news, as it is below the threshold set by the DOH before students may begin returning to in-person learning for the second 14-day period in a row. We hope to see this trend continue. We are also closely monitoring the data to ensure infection rates do not spike due to Labor Day weekend activities.

What does this mean for our students? According to the DOH, once approved, we will bring students gradually back to in-person learning, starting with our youngest elementary students.  Over time, we will consider adding hybrid in-person learning for middle or high school students if limited COVID transmission occurs in schools. Details will be shared at an upcoming board meeting and through our family updates. For now, here are some highlights so you can begin planning:

Our first steps for transitioning to hybrid include:

  • continued meetings with our local public health agency for specific and new guidance
  • monitoring infection rates for sustained rates below DOH established thresholds
  • ensuring we can meet all operational requirements of DOH in each school

Our next steps to prepare for hybrid learning include:

  • continue conversations with labor partners about operationalizing our hybrid plan, including establishing hybrid learning schedules, transportation routes, meal delivery plans, etc.
  • reconvene our Back to School Task Force to provide input on needed changes to our hybrid plan
  • seek KSD family input on readiness for a hybrid schedule
  • provide training for students and families on in-person safety protocols  

As we prepare to bring our students back into buildings for in-person learning, our focus will remain on student and staff safety. Thank you for your attention to these updates and continued partnership during this health crisis.  I know we will continue to get through this together. 

In partnership and service,

Dr. Calvin J. Watts

Superintendent