Seattle schools leader recommends remote-only classes when school resumes in September

Toys lie where they were last played with at a closed playground in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

The superintendent for Seattle Public Schools Wednesday announced that she supported continuing entirely remote instruction when school resumes in September. The district previously favored a hybrid approach of some in-person classes and some online learning.

The school board will vote on the recommendation from Superintendent Denise Juneau at its regular meeting on Aug. 12. The district has approximately 54,000 students.

In an announcement the district said it would “continue the remote learning model until the risk of significant transmission of COVID-19 has decreased enough to resume in-person instruction.”

In a statement Juneau said, “The current trajectory of infection in King County and the most recent data and information from public health makes it clear that resuming school in-person this fall is impossible.”

On Monday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Washington state rose 71% over the past week, reaching a new weekly high of more than 6,800 reported cases, according to GeekWire’s calculations from state Department of Health data. State officials have called it an “explosive situation.”

The decision to resume school with only remote learning is supported by the Seattle Education Association, which is the teachers’ union, and the Principals Association of Seattle Schools.

The district is pledging to make improvements in its online education. That includes:

  • Teacher training in order to provide live instruction for students.
  • Consistent, predictable scheduling using common platforms. (One often heard complaint about the spring’s online learning was the number of educational platforms used making tracking assignments and instruction extremely challenging.)
  • Providing specialized support for students that qualify for extra help.
  • Racial equity training for educators.
  • An effort to provide support for childcare and at-home learning by working with the parent-teacher association, the city and community partners.
  • Providing meals for students and families in need.

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