Volunteer

Current and Returning Volunteers

Instructions and Resources for Current and Returning Volunteers 

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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

2021-22 School Year COVID-19 Safety Requirements

Essential volunteers may be able to volunteer in person at the discretion of the school leader. In addition to steps 1-4 listed below, volunteers are required to complete an online Health & Safety Course and show proof of receiving the COVID-19 vaccination.

  • Complete the 23-min Health & Safety Course available here.
  • Answer test questions during the course and on your volunteer application. 
  • School staff will verify your vaccination card in person.

If you only plan on volunteering remotely, those additional requirements do not apply to you.

Recent volunteer program improvements:

  • Your volunteer application stays in our system for as long as you are active with any SPS school.
  • 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portal allows you to: transfer your existing application to a new SPS school or share it with multiple schools, update outdated information, initiate your national background check clearance when deciding to step into a Category B volunteer role.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.

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. 

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 an appropriate 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 “B. I was recruited to serve as a Category B volunteer”. 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 directly from Sterling Volunteers, 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 check 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 SPSplease review this flow chart used by schools to determine eligibility.

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 volunteer program liaison.

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 Remote Volunteer instructions

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 for instructions.
  • Submit your resignation via our online form