District Headlines & Features
Dear Federal Way Public Schools Parents and Guardians,Safely returning to in-person schooling has been on the minds of many of our scholars, families, and staff. The uncertainty this pandemic has brought to our lives is challenging, especially as scholars, families, and staff need to be able to plan for what’s next.
While some school districts are targeting to reopen because COVID-19 rates in their area are low enough to meet the threshold set by the state, the picture looks very different in our region. Federal Way continues to have some of the highest infection rates in the region, well above the threshold to return to in-person instruction.
Based on current data, and the time it would take to return to some form of in-person instruction, we will remain in 100% remote learning through December. The reasons are as follows:
• COVID-19 infection rates are creeping back up again, both locally and nationally.
o Federal Way’s COVID-19 infection rates are higher than the King County average of 53 per 100,000 over 14 days (for Sept. 12-26). As of Oct. 6 at 5 p.m., the Federal Way rate per 100,000 over 14 days is 128 (for Sept. 22-Oct. 6).
o There are health reporting areas within our district that are reporting higher COVID-19 numbers, up to 185.
o This rate is significantly higher than the threshold outlined in the Washington State Department of Health’s decision tree which states rates should be below 75 per 100,000 over 14 days before returning to some form of in person learning.
o Looking at current trends, and knowing there’s a little more than two months until winter break, we don’t anticipate rates in Federal Way staying below the threshold of 75 per 100,000 for the duration needed to reopen our schools in time to reopen before winter break.
• The flu and cold season will intensify the challenge of bringing staff and scholars back to the classroom.
• We will continue to plan for a transition to face-to-face learning starting with our youngest learners first (preschool, kindergarten, and first grade). We’re committed to following the guidance of the Governor’s decision tree and our data in making the transition when it is safe to do so.
• We want to practice a slow and gradual return to prevent a “false start” of reopening. Some school districts who reopened or planned to reopen had to halt efforts when COVID-19 rates shot up again, causing them to shift back to remote learning. This is disruptive for staff and families who have to quickly change plans. A slow and gradual return will minimize the disruption that a false start could bring, allowing staff and families to plan and make arrangements to support the learning model in place. Our goal is to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in our community and reopen safely, with minimal disruption.
Data and the guidelines from the Department of Health and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) will continue to inform our decisions. We know each decision has impacts, and there isn’t a solution that will meet all needs. However, our focus is the health and safety of our school community.
I know we all look forward to the day when this pandemic is behind us. We’ll be able to reopen schools when the COVID-19 infection rates are at an acceptable level. Each of us have a role to play in reopening schools and helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community: keep socially distant, wash your hands regularly, and wear a face covering. As always, we’ll keep you informed all along the way and provide updates.
Dr. Tammy Campbell, Superintendent