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    Seattle Public Schools Coronavirus Response FAQ

    Seattle Public Schools closed schools on March 12 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Schools will be closed through the end of the 2019-20 school year. All school building activities including school day instruction, child care, health services, enrichment, athletics and club sports, preschool etc. are canceled until further notice. There are support services, enrichment or educational activities being provided to students on school campuses, including meal distribution.

    Will central office be open during the closure?

    The central office, John Stanford Center (JSCEE), is closed to the public until further notice. Staff are continuing the district operations during this period.

    The central office staff, an estimated 650 employees, are expected to continue to work during the school closure to prepare school buildings for reopening, continue communications, and support educators, school leaders, families, and students.

    Are child care or extended day programs canceled?

    We have partnered with our child care providers who operate at Seattle school sires to open child care. In alignment with guidance from the Governor’s Office and OSPI, child care services will be prioritized for SPS families who are children of first responders, including but not limited to: medical personnel, hospital/clinic personnel, EMTs, firefighters, child care workers. Read more on the child care webpage.

    Learning Resources and Student Supports

    How are you providing continued learning supports?

    The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has released revised guidance to school districts focused on learning during school closures. Read the March 23 OSPI bulletin. While schools are closed, we expect learning to continue.

    Seattle Public Schools is taking a multi-pronged approach to continuous student learning, beginning with direct student-educator contact time.

    Educators have been asked to continue communicating with families and students in support of academic work throughout the closure.

    Specifically, they have been asked to communicate with families at least two times per week via Schoology (our online learning management system), email, phone, or the typical way they connect with families throughout the school year. The individualized channel for communication and academic support will be responsive to student need and resource access. If you have yet to hear from your child’s teacher, please reach out to the school principal for guidance.

    Thank you to our incredible educators who have found creative, inclusive, and effective ways to support student learning and family communication during this time.

    This educator support has been supplemented with:

    • SPS teacher generated educational programming that airs on SPS TV (local channel 26), social media (Facebook: @SeattlePublicSchools, Twitter: @SeaPubSchools), the SPS TV YouTube channel, and on KOMO4 news.
      • You can watch the TV broadcast or view individual on-demand lessons.
      • You can learn more by visiting the SPS TV webpage.
    • Printed packets at each of the 26 student meal sites: The district has also distributed printed materials aligned to SPS TV programming at school lunch distribution sites for families who do not have access to the SPS TV broadcast or internet. These weekly, supplemental learning packets are available now and can be picked up at any of the 26 Student Meal Distribution sites. They have also been distributed to affordable housing sites and the current K-5 packets can be downloaded from the elementary learning resources webpage.
    • Online resources: Staff have curated Learning Resource Webpages organized by grade band (preschool, elementary, middle, and high school). You can find sample daily home learning schedules, emotional support guidance, supplemental learning resources coordinated by the Curriculum and Instruction Department, SPS TV learning packets, and some of our favorite online sites. Visit the learning resources webpage.

    The district and Seattle Education Association have agreed to a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). This joint MOA makes clear educator and staff work expectations, our collective support for continuous student learning during the school closures, and the district’s commitment to our workforce during these difficult times.

    While continuous learning at home cannot fully replace students’ experiences in schools with their teachers, administrators, and support staff, this approach will help ensure our students are prepared for the next step in their educational journey.

    What is Continuous Learning?

    Continuous learning is not synonymous with online learning. Continuous learning can take place in a multitude of ways. While instruction or lessons online will likely be an option for many students and families in the coming weeks, teachers will also suggest activities that do not require technology, considering home language, specialized services, developmental readiness, and resource access.

    Continuous learning instruction may include online learning via Schoology, the district’s learning management system – especially at the middle and high school level, paper-based and translated packets, individual and family videoconferencing, remote small group or full class instruction, emails, portfolio-based assessments, and or providing remote office hours for secondary students, etc. Educators have been reminded that not all our students have access to technology at home and to provide appropriate and reasonable alternative academic supports. If students took textbooks, independent books, or other materials home educators may assign work from those resources as well.

    All instruction will be aligned to academic standards and focused on key concepts, skills, and knowledge that students need to make growth, demonstrate grade level proficiency, and or mastery.

    Some teachers will be trying out new techniques and technology solutions. There might be some initial bumps, but remote instruction and supports will improve over time. Please be patient and remember that many teachers are parents of SPS students. Everyone is balancing a lot right now while working and learning from home.

    When does required ongoing learning begin in SPS?

    Continuous learning in SPS began March 30, but many teachers have already been providing continuous learning opportunities for students.

    If you haven’t heard from your school or your child’s teacher or teachers, please contact the school administration.

    Will there be a uniform learning schedule across the district?

    Each school has been asked to design an approach that is developmentally appropriate for the grade levels served, responsive to school culture, and realistic about available resources. Each class and school will tailor their continuous learning a little differently, based on their school community.

    You can view a suggested home learning schedule for K-8 students on the elementary and middle school student learning resource webpage.

    Will my child be provided with six (6) hours of instructional support per day?

    Parents should not expect continuous learning hours to mirror traditional instruction. At the elementary level, 2-3 hours maximum per day is ideal. Middle and high school student hours may vary depending on the subject and lesson(s).

    What supports will be provided for students receiving special education services?

    Students receiving specialized services and with an IEP are general education students first. Seattle Public Schools has published learning resources for students receiving special education services on the district COVID-19 Resource page.

    We are prioritizing resources based on the feedback we have received from families and will initially share supports for: social emotional learning, study skills and organization tools, speech language therapy support, and occupational/physical therapy supports. In addition, staff are preparing to engage in IEP conversations will all families beginning this week. We have also created a FAQ for students receiving specialized services with an IEP and or 504 plan.

    What does ongoing, continuous learning look like for full-time working parents?

    We truly understand how challenging it is right now for parents who are expected to work from home to also support their child’s learning. We want to provide adequate support, guidance, and structure, while still providing enough flexibility to accommodate the realities of the situation many of us are navigating. In many cases, learning doesn’t need to occur during “work hours” but could also occur over the weekend or in the evening. If you need support, please reach out to your classroom teacher for guidance on prioritizing and scheduling learning throughout the day. If your child has an IEP or 504 plan, reach out directly to your child’s IEP case manager or 504 coordinator who can support you with additional accommodations or modifications.

    What will continuous instruction look like? What can parents and students expect?

    All continuous learning and instruction will be aligned to Washington state academic standards and focus on building students’ skills and understanding of key concepts. The district Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction department (CAI) identified power standards that teachers have been asked to focus on throughout the school closures. Power standards refer to a subset of learning standards that are the highest priority or most important for students to learn.

    We’ve put together resources explaining what supports families can expect for continued learning during the closure, including video guides and sample schedules for K-8.

    Across all grades, communication with families will be coordinated and predictable.

    Elementary Students: Elementary students will be provided with at least one math, one literacy, and two additional standards-aligned learning activities each week, noting that some more in-depth lessons or activities may last for multiple weeks.

    These lessons will focus on the most important information and skills students need. Educators may also suggest additional supplemental resources for practice and enrichment. Student progress will be monitored over time and communicated with families and individual students. As in a normal classroom, educators will attend to students’ emotional wellbeing, provide appropriate accommodations and modifications, and academic acceleration. More specific information will be provided by your child’s teacher or teachers.

    Middle School Students: Middle school students will be provided with at least one, standards-based lesson/activity per subject per week, noting that some more in-depth lessons or activities may last for multiple weeks.

    Teachers will use district adopted instructional materials and provide required accommodations and modifications as applicable, including acceleration (e.g., 504 compliant). Student progress will be monitored over time and, as needed, individual feedback will be provided to students. Counselors will support 8th grade students in their high school and beyond planning through a Schoology course and related webinars. Once a week, middle school teachers will schedule time for students and families to ask live questions about content and supports and directly connect with students a minimum of twice a week to support learning. More specific information will be provided by your child’s teacher or teachers.

    High School Students: High school students will be provided with at least one standards-based lesson/activity per subject per week noting that some more in-depth lessons or activities may last for multiple weeks.

    Teachers will use district adopted instructional materials and provide required accommodations and modifications as applicable, including acceleration (e.g., 504 compliant). Student progress will be monitored over time and, as needed, individual feedback will be provided to students. Once a week, high school teachers will schedule time for students and families to ask live questions about content and directly connect with students a minimum of twice a week to support learning. Counselors will prioritize reaching out to seniors and developing plans to support them with graduation requirements and their postsecondary planning. In addition, students will receive support on their high school and beyond planning through a Schoology course. More specific information will be provided by your child’s teacher or teachers.

    Visit our learning resource pages.

    What specific supports are being provided to the Class of 2020?

    High school counselors have been asked to conduct senior “check-ins” starting March 30, as the first step in developing individualized graduation plans. Additional information about senior supports can be found on the Class of 2020 FAQ webpage. 

    Supporting the Class of 2020 has been a prioritized planning area. Counselors, the 24-credit task force, and school leaders have informed development of a learning plan for this year’s seniors. This district’s plan and guidance on how to support seniors and other high school students during this extended school closure was shared with school leaders on March 25.

    Highlights of the district plan include:

    • Outreach and communications: The current plan is for school-based staff to be in contact with students in the Class of 2020 to check in on what they need and to share updates on how we plan to support them in the coming weeks and months.  
    • Meaningful opportunities to earn credits for students: SPS central team members and school-based staff will work to get a precise understanding of what students need to graduate, to determine which ones will be covered by state waivers and which ones could benefit from targeted supports and credit-earning opportunities. Once we have this understanding, each high school will be asked to develop a plan for students who are off-track to help them graduate as soon as possible. This plan will also include meaningful credit-earning opportunities for all seniors and ultimately all high school students. These opportunities could include online courses, courses in Schoology, project-based learning, and other options that will be both technology-based and paper-based.
    • Flexibility from state and local guidelines: SPS will work to take advantage of flexibility allowed by HB 2965 and other subsequent guidance from the State Board of Education on waivers and other options for our high school students.
    • College access support: The SPS College and Career Readiness team and school-based staff will work with our college contacts and College Access Partners to determine what supports students in the Class of 2020 need in accessing college and other postsecondary opportunities.

    Will student graduations and prom be impacted?

    We will provide an update about graduation ceremonies and prom events as soon as possible. We are following state and district guidelines on group gatherings. More details to come.

    What if I have questions about the high school AP Exams for 2020?

    Please visit the High School Advanced Placement (AP) Exams Online 2020 page.

    What accommodations is SPS providing if our family doesn’t have a home computer and or internet access?

    Educators and schools have been asked to consider technology access when planning continuous learning. Continuous learning is not synonymous with online learning. Please share your needs with your child’s teacher, including the need for paper-based supports.

    Starting with high school seniors, Seattle Public Schools is beginning distribution of laptops for students the week of April 6. Due to the time to set up each computer for student use, and the limited quantity of devices received in each shipment, rollout of devices will take place over several weeks. Learn more about district device distribution.

    In addition, every Monday, the central office is providing a weekly, paper-based packet of learning activities at the 26 student meal distribution sites. These packets include standard aligned content and complement the SPS TV teacher-generated learning videos.

    What is the plan for distribution of technology supports? How will supports be communicated?

    Starting with high school seniors, Seattle Public Schools is beginning distribution of laptops for students the week of April 6. Due to the time to set up each computer for student use, and the limited quantity of devices received in each shipment, rollout of devices will take place over several weeks. Learn more about district device distribution.

    We are also working with the business community and philanthropy to identify additional supports. Amazon has donated laptops to SPS elementary families. The donated laptops will be provided to elementary students who otherwise do not have access to a device at home. This gift allows the district to prioritize distributing district laptops to high school students. Learn more about Amazon's gift.

    Do schools or the district need to make up lost instructional time because of the closure?

    Per state law, students are required to have 180 days of classroom instruction per year. At this time a decision has not been made about how the district will address closure and required instructional days. 

    We will communicate any changes to the school year calendar, if necessary, directly to families as soon as decisions are made.

    How will SPS handle student absences that occurred before the school closure?

    Since this is a district-directed closure, SPS is excusing all health-related student absences during the closures and prior to March 12 if families chose to keep their children home.

    Are all athletics and club sports canceled?

    Yes, athletics are canceled until further notice. Our agreement with WIAA is if schools or the district close, all athletics are postponed for the duration of the closure.


    Student Food Support

    How will students who qualify for free or reduced lunch be supported during the closure?

    As part of our emergency plan to address the closure of schools or a school, Seattle Public Schools provides sack meals each weekday prepared by our central kitchen. Additionally weekend food packs are available for pick up.

    Families should go to the meal site that is most convenient for them and are invited to take the non-perishable items needed for meals over the weekend. We will assess participation and increase or decrease the number of bags for the following Friday.

    Please see our Student Meal resources webpage for more information.

    How will families know they are eligible for a backpack?

    The food is available for all families in need. We want families to have access to the food without any barriers.

    What type of food is in the backpack?

    Non-perishable food items will be in the bags canned goods, snacks, juice etc.

    Who is in the Backpack Brigade?

    The Backpack Brigade consist of local area food bank volunteers that take the time to order and put the food bags together to end weekend hunger for families.

    Are families allowed to take more than one bag?

    Larger size families are welcome to take more than one bag and if there’s a need for another family we encourage a person to pick up a bag for that family in need.

    Supporting our Seattle Community

    How will Seattle Public Schools be keeping families, staff, and students informed regarding Coronavirus and information related to the closure?

    SPS is sending regular emails to families and staff to provide the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 and the district website and school sites are updated daily.

    Please make sure your contact information is up to date at your child's school. Staff have been asked to check their work email daily.

    How can parents and the community support healthy communities during this time?


    If regular hand washing isn’t possible, the next best option is to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or sanitizer wipes, with 60% alcohol. Continue to encourage regular hand washing at home and good hygiene habits.

    Look out for each other

    Some of our community members are more vulnerable to COVID-19, including individuals who are over 60, pregnant, or have a pre-existing medial condition. Help our loved ones and neighbors by offering to grocery shop and provide other assistance as needed.

    What conversations should parents have with their children at home?

    We know families, staff, and students are worried. We are committed to keeping you informed and working with you to keep our school communities safe. Learn more on our Talking with Children about COVID-19 page.

    Public Health Guidance

    What are the procedures and instructions for students to wash their hands (even while at home)?

    We are encouraging families continue to prioritize student hand washing at home. Hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is the most effective way to contain the spread of illness and disease, including COVID-19. Learn more about hand washing and proper technique by watching this video.

    What is the Guidance from Public Health – Seattle and King County?

    We know there are many questions about risk of exposure to COVID-19. Please visit the Public Health Seattle and King County website for the latest guidance from public health.

    The simple actions below are among the most effective to avoid illness.

    • Stay at home and avoid all non-essential contact with others.
    • Limit trips for groceries, gas and other essentials.
    • If you must go out, stay at least 6 feet away from others at all times.
    • Wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face.

    If you have not been in close contact with a sick person with COVID-19, you are at low risk for infection

    You generally need to be in close contact with a sick person to get infected. Close contact includes:

    • Living in the same household as a sick person with COVID-19,
    • Caring for a sick person with COVID-19,
    • Being within 6 feet of a sick person with COVID-19 for about 10 minutes, OR
    • Being in direct contact with secretions from a sick person with COVID-19 (e.g., being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.)

    What should I do if I was in close contact with someone with COVID-19 while they were ill, but I am not sick?

    Please contact your medical provider for specific guidance. In general, you should monitor your health for fever, cough, and respiratory problems during the 14 days after the last day you were in close contact with the sick person with COVID-19. You should not go to work and should avoid public places for 14 days.

    What should I do if I am a close contact to someone with COVID-19 and get sick?

    If you get sick with fever, cough, or respiratory problems (even if your symptoms are very mild), you likely have COVID-19. You should isolate yourself at home and away from other people and contact your health care provider.

    More information about what to do including when to discontinuation home isolation can be found on the public health website.

    How is Seattle Public Schools making decisions?

    Public Health is the lead agency in our community’s COVID-19 response and SPS plays an important role in providing stability and safety for our region.

    Superintendent Juneau has been working in daily partnership with Public Health Seattle and King County, and officials from the city, county and state, and other superintendents to assess and respond to new information. Having a seat at the table ensures our voices are heard and included in decisions that impact all of us.

    What additional steps did the district take to disrupt the spread of COVID-19 prior to closing?

    The district canceled all events that bring large groups of students, adults, and community members together starting March 9 in response to Public Health guidance and in an abundance of caution. This included, but was not limited to, large school community events, school day assemblies, all student travel, and activities outside of school hours (i.e. overnight field trips and competitions). These restrictions went into effect on March 9. All out of state and international travel is canceled through the end of the school year.

    In addition, school custodians prioritized disinfecting common, high use areas in the school building multiple times a day. Students were also asked to wash their hands regularly including when they arrived at school, prior to lunch, and anytime after using the restroom. Good hygiene habits are the most effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 according to Public Health and the CDC.

    How did the Public Health “at risk” population guidance effect Seattle Public Schools?

    People at higher risk, according to Public Health, include those who are 60 years and older; people who are pregnant; people with weakened/compromised immune systems or underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes.

    The health of our staff matters to us. Seattle Public Schools has close to 11,000 part-time and full-time employees, and some who meet the “at risk” criteria. A special emergency leave type was created to support staff at higher risk for COVID-19. How to record leave and documentation required has been communicated directly to all staff.

    Prior to full district closure all events, workshops, field trips, etc. that require a substitute teacher were canceled and we deployed our certified central office staff, an estimated 100 educators, to support in our 104 schools.

    How did SPS protect vulnerable populations prior to closing?

    We took extra steps to protect our students and staff by creating more time for hand washing during the school day, prioritizing regular cleanings in high-traffic areas, and providing more supplies to all schools for classroom cleanings. We also made program and practice adjustments to better ensure the safety of our students and staff.

    School and central office staff have worked directly with families that have a medically fragile child to determine the best option for them while school was in session.

    What should I (staff or family) consider prior to spring break travel?

    Updated travel information and current guidelines can be found on the CDC website. 

    The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to reconsider travel abroad at this time due to the global impact of COVID-19.

    Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions. Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not been reported may restrict travel without notice. You can find more information for travelers on the Department of State website.

    Where can I Turn for More Information?

    As with any newly emerging infectious disease, knowledge evolves with time. Early on, it is difficult to know the source of the disease, the ways in which it spreads, how effectively it spreads from person to person, and how severe the infection is.