Fall 2020 Reopening Overview

  • July 22, 2020

    Dear Federal Way Public Schools Staff and Parents,

    We care about each and every one of our 23,000 scholars and nearly 3,000 staff, and we are committed to making sure our schools are safe places to learn and teach. COVID-19 is the biggest safety challenge we are facing in the 2020-21 school year. I want to thank our parents and staff for bringing forward your insights, feedback, and concerns during various Zoom meetings and surveys in recent weeks.

    Last Friday, I shared with you that we were preparing for the possibility of 100% remote learning due to the alarming increase of COVID-19 cases in our region. Most recently, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), Public Health – Seattle & King County, and the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) released a report that suggests if virus transmissions don’t drop, King County school buildings should not reopen this fall. Yesterday, in a meeting with regional superintendents and Public Health – Seattle & King County, we were advised that there is no way at this time to open schools without the risk of significant transmission of COVID-19 based on the recent trajectory of infections in King County. 

    This deadly virus has taken the lives of 1,465 people in Washington state, with 638 of these in King County, as of July 20, 2020. Recent DOH data indicates the number of cases is increasing across the state, including in King County. King County currently has a 7-day average of roughly 128 cases per day. 

    Our school buildings house both students and staff, including some who fall into high risk categories. While what we know so far indicates young children are less likely to have severe impacts from COVID-19, this is an ever-evolving situation, and we know older children are capable of spreading the virus, with 11% of cases occurring in children aged 0-19. Students who are asymptomatic may also expose staff, their families, and others in the community, potentially creating a super spreader event. As a result, reopening school buildings for face-to-face instruction at this time creates an untenable risk for students, staff, and the broader community. This is a risk that we are not willing to take. 

    Federal Way Public Schools has been engaged in ongoing conversation with regional school districts. This week, most of the surrounding districts have decided to start the 2020-21 school year with 100% remote instruction. For FWPS, this means we will begin the year providing 100% remote learning. We will be working with Public Health – Seattle & King County to monitor when we can reopen schools with our hybrid model. If the rate of infection has diminished, and face-to-face instruction is supported by public health guidelines, we will be prepared to transition to our hybrid model with two days of face-to-face instruction and three days of remote instruction each week. 

    Parents, we have heard you. As a result, we have made significant improvements to our remote learning model (Continuous Learning 2.0). The remote learning model we will be rolling out in September is not the same model you experienced in the spring. It will be much more robust, structured, and consistent. We are also continuing to refine the hybrid model, so when it’s time to resume in-person instruction, we are ready to do so safely. We know this is a difficult situation that will have an impact on our students, parents, and staff. Here are some supports we will be providing based on feedback from the 100+ member Continuous Learning Plan committee comprised of parents, staff, and administrators: 

    For scholars, staff, and families:

    • In August, Launchpad to Learning will be available! This is a one-stop online location with easy access to all school applications and educational resources.
    • Consistency: Consistent, predictable communication, and instructional schedules! For example, a consistent way to view and access links, schedules, and information on Canvas Learning Management System. 
    • Remote Learning Guidelines: We will provide a clear and helpful handbook that will serve as a resource for families and staff in how to successfully navigate remote learning.

    For staff:  

    • Professional Development opportunities: We are supporting our staff with Professional Development offerings in areas such as culturally responsive teaching practices, best practices for online instruction, how best to support social emotional learning, and building a school community in a remote setting. This will ensure that high quality instruction takes place every day during remote learning.  

    For scholars and families:  

    • Technology: We will continue to check out loaner laptops for students who need them. Knowing there may be multiple children in one household, we are working on plans for the school day so that elementary, middle, and high school schedules are alternating as much as possible. We are encouraging families to purchase a laptop for their child if they haven’t yet, and if they can afford to do so. More information about technology and resources available can be found on our website at fwps.org.  
    • Parent workshop opportunities: We will be offering online workshops to parents on a variety of topics such as How to Navigate Online Learning, How to Support Your Child’s Learning, and Supporting Your Child’s Social Emotional Well-Being 
    • Childcare: Right At School will offer an array of childcare options, including full-day care for K-5 students with access to FWPS’ remote learning this fall. Children with special needs can also register for childcare. Additional information will be available soon.
    • Learning Partnership Guide: This guide is offered for each grade level and helps parents and schools to be on the same page. It provides important dates, milestones, and goals to show parents what they can expect their child to learn throughout the school year. New this year is a section on remote learning tools to support all students in learning from home. 

    We also recognize that remote learning cannot fully meet the needs of some students with unique needs, and we are evaluating the ways in which we will be able to provide face-to-face, one-on-one, and small group support for these identified scholars. 

    More information will be shared in the coming weeks, as we continue to refine our remote learning plan, and we will be hosting Q&A sessions for parents and staff on July 30 — be on the lookout for an invite to attend! If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us at comments@fwps.org

    No matter the decision that we make, I know there will be challenges and downsides. However, in making the decision to delay face-to-face instruction, we are minimizing the harm that can be done by this deadly virus. Thank you for your continued partnership with us. We will get through this together. 


    Dr. Tammy Campbell, Superintendent