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    2021 In-Person Learning Plan


    In-Person Learning Plan


    Re-Entry Stages

    graphic with laptop text Stage 1
    graphic with laptop and building text Stage 2
    graphic with laptop and building text Stage 3
    graphic with building text Stage 4



    Top 10 Things SPS Families Need to Know

    A summary of the top 10 is below and see full text on the Return to In-Person Learning: Top 10 Things SPS Families Need to Know Infographic

    1. There will be a required, daily health screening.
    2. Students will be required to wear a mask.
    3. One student will be assigned to each bus seat, unless from the same household.
    4. All students will be met by staff at a designated drop off area.
    5. All classrooms are 15 students or less.
    6. In the classroom, students will be assigned to seats that are six feet apart and face the same direction.
    7. Students will have their own materials for daily use and items will not be shared.
    8. Hand washing will be prioritized throughout the day including but not limited to on arrival, before lunch, after recess, and after using the restroom.
    9. Daily cleaning of common areas will be done in compliance with CDC and Public Health recommendations.
    10. When heading home, students will line up maintaining six feet between them.



    Planning Updates

    Bargaining Updates

    SPS and Seattle Education Association are in the process of bargaining working conditions for an increase to in-person instruction. Students enrolled in Special Education Intensive Service Pathways will be prioritized first for a phased-in return to school buildings and classrooms.

    Get the most up to date information including next steps.



    Cohort Model (Stages 2 and 3)

    The Washington Department of Health Decision Making Tree for K-12 Students at Public and Private Schools, recommends phasing in small groups of students, starting with elementary students and students receiving special education services. To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Seattle Public Schools is taking a cohort approach.

    A cohort is a small group of students that stay together throughout the school day. We will meet a 1 to 15 teacher-student ratio, or less, in all classrooms.

    Teacher-Student Ratios

    • Kindergarten and first grade classrooms will support up to a 1:15 teacher-student ratio.
    • Preschool, including Special Education Preschool, will operate in small subgroups with a maximum group size of 6-10 students.
    • Intensive Service Pathway classes (SEL, Moderate Intensive, Focus, Distinct, and Medically Fragile) will meet the cohort ratio of 1:15 or less.

    Cohort Zonesschool building map with student groups

    Working with five architectural firms, SPS facilities has organized elementary and K-8 schools into "cohort zones" with separate entrances/exits and bathroom facilities to reduce physical interaction between different groups of students.


    Outdoor access and physical movement are important for learning. Students will be released for recess with their cohort zone and will only interact with students from their specific classrooms. The playground structures will be wiped down once a day. Playgrounds will remain closed to the public during non-school hours to support social distancing. Cohorts will have their own playground equipment that can be easily cleaned and disinfected between use.


    In order to reduce interaction between groups of students (classroom cohort), breakfast and lunch will be eaten in the classroom.  



    School Day Schedules

    Bell Schedules (Start and End Times)

    School start and end times for students receiving in-person instruction may need to change because of transportation. If start and end times change, it is likely bell schedules would revert back to the 2019-20 schedule. Transportation is building routes in response to the January family survey. More information will be shared as soon as possible.

    Intensive Service Pathway Schedule

    District staff is negotiating for students enrolled in Special Education Intensive Service Pathways to be the first large group to return for in-person learning beginning on March 1. The district’s current bargaining proposal for PreK-12th grade students enrolled in Special Education Intensive Service Pathways includes four, full days of instruction (M/T/TH/F). To learn more and view sample schedules and the district’s bargaining proposal please visit the bargaining updates announcement.

    The district and SEA are scheduled to conclude bargaining in mid-February. By February 22, 2021 plans for in-person learning will be confirmed and communicated.

    PreK-1 Grade Schedule

    Negotiations regarding PreK-1 in-person learning and the schedule are also underway. Conversations continue about how to best support PreK-1 students and staff while adhering to health and safety protocols and prioritizing consistency of teachers for our youngest learners. Families and staff have shared how important it is for students to remain with their current teacher. Recognizing some teachers may not be able to return to provide in-person services this spring, we are working to minimize the change in student assignments.

    The district shared a revised proposal with SEA that keeps students in an A or B group with two days of in-person instruction for each group. To learn more and view sample schedules and the district's bargaining proposal please visit the bargaining updates announcement.

    The district and SEA are scheduled to conclude bargaining in mid-February. By February 22, 2021 plans for in-person learning will be confirmed and communicated.




    Priority Standards

    In a typical school year, student learning is aligned to the Washington State Learning Standards. This year, educators across the district, state, and country need to prioritize some of these learning standards to address disruption to instruction in Spring 2020 and the constraints of the remote learning schedule in 2020-21.

    The SPS Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction team has selected priority standards from the Washington State Learning Standards for each grade-level and course. Whether students are learning remotely or in-person, they will be supported in mastering these standards.


    At Seattle Public Schools, we are focused on anti-racist, equity-aligned grading practices that support greater accuracy, anti-bias, and student motivation and growth mindset in classroom grading.

    On August 12, 2020, the SPS School Board voted to temporarily suspend portions of the district's high school grading policy (Policy 2420pdf icon ) so that students taking high school or middle school courses will earn "A-C-" or "Incomplete" final grades as measures of their learning progress.

    Elementary will be reporting progress toward prioritized standards for the 2020-21 school year.

    This revised grading scale, along with associated grading practice guidance given to educators, seeks to minimize harm to students and promote equity during remote learning and our response to the pandemic.

    Specialist and Support Services

    Students receiving in-person learning will continue to have access to specialists including physical education, arts, music, etc. How instruction is provided, in-person or remote or a combination is still being determined. We are reviewing best practices from other districts and their reopening plans and schedules.




    Washington Interscholastic Activity Association (WIAA), the governing body for high school athletics and activities provided guidance on January 6, 2021 based on Governor Inslee's "Healthy Washington Roadmap to Recovery" plan pdf icon announcement. Seattle Public Schools has plans to begin sports during Phase 2 as approved by WIAA. The Athletics Department has been working since fall to establish safety protocols and is ready to begin when Seattle enters Phase 2.

    The Metro League adopted a two-season sports model for this year only. This format protects participants’ safety while providing student-athletes the best possible quality athletic experience.

    Season 1: Feb. 22 to April 17

    • Boys: Football
    • Girls: Bowling, Soccer, Slowpitch Softball, Swim and Dive, and Volleyball
    • Co-Ed: Cross Country and Golf

    Season 2: April 19 – June 12

    • Boys: Baseball, Basketball, Soccer, Swim and Dive
    • Girls: Basketball and Fastpitch Softball
    • Co-Ed: Tennis, Track and Field, and Wrestling

    Seasons and/or sports may need to be adjusted based on Puget Sound Region's metrics.

    As February 22nd approaches, the Metro League reminds all its students and families to follow all pre-participation protocol such as completed online athletic registration (including updated physical examination on file). Each Metro school will continue its established comprehensive COVID-19 safety plan and protocols. The League also urges families to remain aware of COVID-19 protocols surrounding travel and quarantines.



    Health and Safety Protocols

    Reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission is everyone's responsibility. Local, state, and federal health guidelines have informed the development of the SPS COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols pdf icon. The district has been using these protocols since the beginning of the pandemic, and while there have been COVID-19 cases at some school sites, they have been isolated and contained.

    These health and safety protocols are updated as our understanding of COVID-19 continues to evolve.



    Keeping our Facilities Safe

    Classroom Setup

    Classes are limited to a cohort of 15 students or fewer. Only the assigned student cohort, educator(s), and assigned custodian will have access room to reduce exposure.

    • Furniture from classrooms has been removed or rearranged to accommodate six feet between each student and 10 feet in the front of the classroom for the teacher. Desks are now arranged facing the same direction with required distancing in all directions
    • Students will be assigned seating, and physical distancing visuals/signage added to the floor and walls.
    • Group resources have been removed from classrooms. Students will use individual resources at their desk/individual area, including individual books, learning packets and computers.
    • Student belonging will be separated using designated areas or individual containers.
    • Excess furniture and soft furniture have been removed and countertops cleared of all extra items.
    • A hand sanitizer station is positioned by the door.

    Plexiglass barriers have also been installed in the school offices and in some specialized classrooms to support students who may not be able to wear a mask.

    Improved Air Quality and Ventilation

    Following the guidelines provided by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), Washington State Department of Health, and Seattle-King County Health Department, the following actions have been taken/are being taken to provide staff and students a safe facility:

    • All HVAC systems in each school building has been inspected and repaired, if needed.
    • Every school's HVAC system has been evaluated to determine if we are maintaining air circulation rates of 25 CFM per occupant and CO2 at a maximum level of 700 parts per million in classroom spaces. Protocols to increase airflow have been developed and custodial staff has been trained.
    • The Facilities Department is using the highest rated filtration compatible with the school's installed HVAC system. In most cases, filters are being upgraded from MERV 8 to MERV 13 – a hospital grade filter.
    • Free standing filtration systems (HEPA air purifiers) are being added to classrooms and other spaces where an airflow of 25 CFM can't be achieved through other measures.
    • Ventilation systems have been adjusted to their maximizing ventilation rates while maintaining occupant comfort.
    • Building temperature set points have been adjusted up to off-set for the additional colder outside air.
    • System running schedules have been extended two-hours, pre-and-post-occupancy to flush the schools with fresh air.
    • Window systems have been inspected and repairs are being made to increase the outside air ventilation.


    Signage is placed throughout the school to remind students and staff about the daily health screening, face covering, and physical distancing. Signs will be placed to direct foot traffic throughout the hallways and entry and exit doors to indicate directional flow.

    Daily Cleaning

    Seattle Public Schools follows the Washington Department of Health, Public Health, and CDC Cleaning and Disinfecting guidelines.

    Daily cleaning schedule:

    • High touch surfaces/points cleaning and disinfectant occurs at least three times a day and includes but is not limited to the following: doorknobs, door hardware, drinking fountains, stair rails, common areas, desks, tables, light switches, elevator buttons, and any other touchpoints in high traffic/common spaces.
    • All restrooms are serviced and disinfected three times per day, with at least 2 hours between servicing. Common spaces used by childcare (hallways, gyms, cafeterias, etc.) are cleaned and disinfected daily.
    • If there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, Seattle Public Schools will follow the CDC Cleaning and Disinfecting guidelines and communication plan for staff, families, and students.



    Childcare and Outdoor Education


    We have dedicated childcare at 40 school sites that will be maintained with the increase of PreK-1 and students enrolled in Special Education Intensive Service Pathways. We will work to bring back additional childcare operations in our buildings. An increase will need to be evaluated on a case by case basis for each school building and provider. We are working to balance space availability and ensure health and safety protocols can be met.

    Child care partners may have slightly different protocols related to when and for how long they close programming if there is a positive COVID case because, in addition to Department of Health, the guidance they follow is also influenced by licensing requirements from the Department of Children, Youth, and Families. Like SPS, they consult with the Department of Health to determine the safest course of action.

    Outdoor Education

    The School Board adopted Resolution 2020/21-4, which calls for outdoor/community education pilots to be developed. This is one solution to bring back more students for in-person learning. We encourage educators and schools to consider this innovative approach to provide more in-person learning opportunities for students. 



    Snow Days and Power Outages

    Planning for winter weather in 2020-21 is different than in past years. As a result of remote learning, we are better positioned to continue school even when it is snowing, and or the roads are icy.

    If winter weather requires the cancellation of in-person learning or the closure of school buildings, all students will learn remotely. In the event of an extreme weather-related power or connectivity outage impacting large numbers of families and staff, the district will close and cancel all buildings, services, and remote learning. Learn more about weather response.


    Remote Learning Resources and District Announcements

    Online Educational Tools Overview of remote learning tools, FAQ, and contact information. Technology Tools for Students

    Sample Remote School Schedules School specific remote learning schedules are provided on each school's website. The sample schedules reflect fall agreements with SEA and general approach to remote learning and instruction. Sample School Schedules

    Priority Standards The SPS Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction team has selected priority standards from the Washington State Learning Standards for each grade-level and course. Whether students are learning remotely or in-person, they will be supported in mastering these standards. Priority Standards

    Meals for Students Student meals are served at forty school sites and via bus routes. Meals for Students

    Child Care Child Care with SPS Partners


    Health and Wellness Resources

    COVID-19 Data Dashboard – King County Data are updated daily in the early afternoon and reflect laboratory results reported to the Washington State Department of Health as of midnight the day before. King County Health Data Dashboard.

    SPS Health Services and Resources Quick links to SEL family supports, Public Health information, and mental health supports. District Health Resources