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    Instructions and Resources for Current and Returning Volunteers 

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    COVID-19 and school volunteers: SPS is following guidelines from OSPI in limiting nonessential visitors and volunteers to our schools.  At this time, we are only engaging remote/virtual volunteers and volunteers supporting approved outdoor education pilots (more info here). We look forward to the day we can welcome volunteers back into our schools! 

    Thank you for your past volunteer service - we are excited you are interested in continuing to volunteer with Seattle Public Schools or take on a new volunteer role! 

    Before you begin renewing or updating your application, please read our updated Volunteer Handbook

    At SPS, the volunteer renewal process varies based on the supervision setting of your next volunteer role:

    Category A Volunteer

    All school and remote volunteer roles that support the school, staff or families; can include direct student contact if the volunteer is supervised. District personnel must be on site and within view if the volunteer will interact with students. Alternatively, another adult approved SPS volunteer must participate in the activity and be present at all times.

    Examples: classroom or library assistance, field trip planning, office or recess support, school newsletter editor, family tech support volunteer. 

    Category B Volunteer

    All school and remote volunteer roles taht involve unsupervised contact with students.

    Examples: math club coach, breakout room facilitator (in a virtual classroom), one-on-one tutor (including remote/virtual), mentor. 

    Recent volunteer program improvements:

    • Volunteer applications stay in our system for as long as you are active with SPS.
    • The volunteer portal allows you to: transfer your existing application to a new SPS school or share it with multiple schools, update outdated information, initiate your national background check clearance when deciding to step into a Category B volunteer role. 
    • Every two years, we will email you to give you the option to renew or opt-out of volunteering.


    1. Updating or renewing your volunteer application


    You can access your volunteer application through the volunteer portal - see instructions here


    How long do renewals take?

    Volunteer re-authorization times vary by school – please allow at least two weeks. If your background check returns any criminal records, your application renewal may require extra time to process.


    What if I don't renew my application or no longer wish to volunteer? 

    • If you do not renew, your volunteer application will be archived within two years. 
    • You can also opt-out of volunteering - see #5 below. 


    2. Determining Your Background Check Type

    SPS is committed to providing students with a safe educational environment. This includes ensuring every volunteer and staff member completes a criminal background check.

    • New and returning volunteer applicants are screened for free by SPS via the state criminal records database - WATCH. This background check is sufficient for all Category A volunteers who have lived in our state for the past three years. 
    • If you moved to Washington State less than three years ago but have purchased the national background check two years ago, please contact your volunteer program liaison so they can verify and approve your renewal without additional cost to you. 


    Additional screening for Category B volunteers

    • If your new volunteer role will involve spending unsupervised time with students (including as a remote/online volunteer), or you will chaperone 3+ day overnight field trips, you must complete the national background check even if you are a long-time resident of Washington.
    • When updating your volunteer application, select "2. I have lived in Washington State for the past 3 years but would like to purchase a national background check." At the bottom of your volunteer profile page click "SAVE". This will generate an email with instructions from Sterling Volunteers. 


    Financial burden

    Every parent or caretaker should have the opportunity to participate in their student’s education. If you face barriers to completing the online background check, please visit our web page for family volunteers for information about assistance.


    Background check results
    • If your state background check is clear, you will be notified immediately via email.
    • If you purchase the national or international background check, you will receive your results automatically, usually within a few days.
    • If there are any records on your background check or your report shows possible duplicates (criminal records of other Washington State residents who have similar names to yours), the school's volunteer program liaison will need to review your background check manually. Expect an additional week for processing. 


    Background checks reports with criminal records

    While all returning volunteers must be screened through a background check, a criminal history does not automatically disqualify an applicant from volunteering in the schools. If you'd like to know if your criminal records may affect your ability to volunteer with SPS, please review this flow chart used by schools to determine eligibility.


    3. Updating Your School

    One of the updates you can make via the volunteer portal is your school selection. Before your first volunteer shift at a new school, the school volunteer program liaison will verify your information in person or through an online meeting (for remote volunteers). Please have the following available: 

    • Your current government-issued photo ID.

    During this last step, if the school volunteer program liaison confirms your identity and verifies that you selected the correct background check type on your volunteer application, they will add you to the "Approved Volunteers Roster" for that school.

    If you have questions about your application or background check, call the school office or email the school's volunteer program liaison.


    4. Becoming a Remote Volunteer

    If you were approved to volunteer with SPS schools in the past, but not as a "remote/virtual volunteer", ask the staff member who recruited you for support to determine if your role is a Category A or a Category B volunteer

    If your remote volunteer role will fall under Category A, no additional screening is needed. 

    If your remote volunteer role will fall under Category B follow the Remote Volunteer instructions


    5. Leaving the volunteer program

    If you don't plan on returning to any SPS school as a volunteer, you can opt-out of volunteering in one of two ways: 

    • When you receive an email from our volunteer application system requesting that you renew your application, look for an "opt-out" link at the bottom of the message and click. This will automatically update your volunteer status. 
    • Submit your resignation via our online form