SEATTLE - The state's largest school district is planning on bringing back their youngest learners in a couple of months. Before the end of last year, the district announced plans to bring back pre-schoolers through first graders back to in-person learning by March 1.
On Tuesday, the district sent out a survey for parents of these students to gauge their interest in returning their kids back to school classrooms.
"We need to know, are you going to come back? You have the option to continue to be remote, or you have the option to head back to in-person," said Tim Robinson, Seatle Public Schools spokesperson.
According to the district, in-person learning for the youngest learners is going to look very different than what's typical. On its website, SPS notes that desks will be socially distant in the classrooms. Some activities like circle time and comfy reading corner will not happen, but the districts said that classrooms will remain engaging. Lunch will be eaten in the classroom. And depending on staffing levels and comfort factor, students' teachers may change as well.
Students and staff will have to fill out a daily health screening called an "attestation." On the district's website, SPS has contracted with an outside vendor to create an electronic version of this screening.
"We know that there are different thoughts and feelings about this, but the Superintendent and school board recognize that it's time to get these youngest learners and some students getting some special education services back into the classroom," said Robinson.
Reaction remained mixed. On the district's Facebook page, reactions included teachers who felt they were never notified of these changes, to parents who either want their kids back in school, to still many unanswered questions and confusion on COVID protocol into March.
Meantime in Thurston County, in a letter to its schools, County Health Officer Dimyana Abdelmalek MD, wrote "if Thurston County continues to stay in the moderate transmission range (50-350 cases per 100K over 14 days) for a majority of days for three weeks after the New Year’s holiday and there is sufficient testing, hospital, and public health capacity, I will recommend cautiously
starting in-person learning for elementary and middle school students."
Looking ahead, for SPS, they are planning and hoping that the rest of the students in the fall.
"Certainly looking to fall of this year. Hopefully, we'll be able to bring all students back, but it's too early to say. We certainly want to," said Robinson.