Seattle Public Schools


2021-22 School Year: 180 Days of Excellence

Returning to In-Person Learning for 2021-2022 from Seattle Public Schools (SPSTV) Vimeo.

2021-22 School Year

Seattle Public Schools is planning for five full days of in-person instruction at all 104 schools beginning on September 1, 2021 as required by the state.

We are committed to working with our families, students, and staff to open schools and welcome back all students while continuing to prioritize the health of our school communities.

As we plan for the 2021-22 school year — 180 Days of Excellence — we will be on focused creating the conditions necessary for students to thrive. Seattle Public Schools will provide high-quality and engaging learning, a culture of care for students and staff, and will be prepared to respond to the needs of our students and school communities.

We will share regular planning updates on this webpage and through School Beat, the district newsletter, including information for new and returning families, students of all grade levels and schools, and details on nutrition, transportation, family engagement, and more.

High Quality Learning Environments

In-Person Learning: The 2021-22 school year will resume five full days of in-person instruction at all 104 schools beginning on Sept 1. We are committed to working with our families, students, labor partners, and staff to open schools and welcome back all students.

Virtual Learning Option: We are pleased to offer the Virtual Option Pilot Program (VOPP) for students. Students with existing, documented health issues or concerns, including mental and emotional health concerns, were prioritized for this virtual pilot.

Read more about the alternative Online Learning Options for the 2021-22 School Year.

Activities and Athletics

In-School Assemblies: In-school assemblies are not encouraged. Schools  must continue to follow DOH guidance for in-school assemblies, including physical distancing recommendations.

Athletics: Both high school and middle school students will be allowed to participate in athletics. We follow WIAA guidelines governing athletics and DOH health and safety requirements. COVID-19 testing is required for athletes and coaches participating in indoor high-risk sports who are not vaccinated. High risk indoor sports include: boys and girls basketball, wrestling, and cheer, if indoors. These sports happen during our winter season, which starts around mid-November.

Use of Lockers, Showers, Weight rooms:  Use of weight rooms is allowed with masks and physical distancing. Students will not use locker rooms and showers in physical education classes during the school day.

Field Trips

  • Day trips: Day trips are allowed. COVID-19 prevention strategies such as masking, physical distancing, and being outdoors as much as possible must be followed.
  • Overnight trips: Overnight filed trips will not be allowed for the 2021-22 school year. SPS will continue to monitor COVID-19 transmission rates and revisit this policy as new information becomes available.

Specialists (PE, art, music, theatre, dance, media art, and library teachers) will provide in-person instruction in 2021-22.

  • Shared Materials and Equipment: Because the risk of transmitting COVID-19 through surfaces is low, students can share art materials, PE equipment, and books. However, students and staff will be encouraged to wash their hands between classes.
  • Shared Materials for Performing Arts: Shared equipment will be reduced to the degree possible. Students will use hand sanitizer before using any shared equipment. Students should have their own mouthpieces for shared instruments. Shared instruments will sit for 24 hours between uses.
  • Specialized PPE: Instrumental music, choir, and theatre students will continue to use special PPE to reduce airborne COVID-19 spread.
  • Universal masking with appropriate material – MERV13 or 3-layer medical face mask or similar material – is required by all students and staff in performing arts classes and while participating in performing arts activities. Masking with MERV13 or 3-layer medical face mask or similar material is the best way of reducing aerosols from circulating in indoor spaces. These types of masks will be supplied in K-5 general music, choir and theatre classes.
  • Bell covers with appropriate material – MERV 13 or 3-layer medical face mask or similar material – are required for brass and woodwind instruments when indoors. Bell covers are recommended when playing outdoors but not required. These will be supplied in class.
  • For performances, audience members should be seated in “family units” and those small groups should be spaced at least 3 feet apart. All audience members must wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.

Grading Guidelines for 2021-22 School Year 

We are once again taking a close look at our grading guidelines for the 2021-22 school year to ensure that they are promoting equity. We will return to pre-pandemic grading, but we will require educators to do the following: 

  • Secondary students: the grading scale will be “A-E” for most courses.
  • Elementary students will continue to receive progress reports. 
  • Provide biweekly check-ins with students and families for students at risk of earning an Incomplete, No Credit, or a failing grade.   
  • Allow retakes and assignment revisions to the extent possible.   
  • Not give any grades lower than 50% on any assignment, even for a missed assignment.

Special education services will be provided in-person in 2021-22.  If your student may require a alternative accommodations through the IEP process, you may start this process by emailing Recovery services are additional special education and related services for students with disabilities that are designed to address lack of appropriate progress on IEP goals because of the pandemic.

  • Discussions to determine and plan for needed recovery services can happen this fall or during the 2021-22 school year.
  • Decisions can take place prior to the start of the 2021–22 school year, prior to the annual IEP meeting, or could happen at the upcoming annual review date if the district and parent agree.
  • Decisions about recovery services will be documented and communicated, and will be based on individual IEP decisions.

Students without an IEP with a medical, social emotional or mental health condition and/or are not able to get vaccinated due to medical conditions are encouraged to apply for a 504 evaluation if one is not already in place. Please reach out the to the SPS district 504 coordinator at and they will connect you with your school 504 team or provide guidance.

Virtual Learning Option: We are pleased to offer the Virtual Option Pilot Program (VOPP) for students. Students with existing, documented health issues or concerns, including mental and emotional health concerns, were prioritized for this virtual pilot.

Read more about the alternative Online Learning Options for the 2021-22 School Year.

Student and Staff Wellness and Health Safety

Healthy and Safety Protocols for 2021-2022 from Seattle Public Schools (SPSTV) Vimeo.

SPS continues to follow the requirements and guidance of the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), Labor & Industries, and Public Health – Seattle & King County as we plan for Fall 2021. Labor & Industries, and Public Health – Seattle & King County as we plan for Fall 2021.

This school year, new COVID-19 prevention strategies will be implemented in response to public health guidance. Vaccination and face coverings/masks are the most effective tools to prevent transmission of COVID-19.  Seattle Education Association (SEA) and Seattle Public Schools (SPS) have reached a tentative agreement to support layered COVID-19 health and safety strategies to protect our schools and communities. We will work with labor partners as needed to adopt new strategies designed to keep our communities safe.

Stay Home When Sick

At SPS, we are committed to keeping our school communities safe. You can help us by keeping your student home when they have a known exposure to someone with COVID-19, or new symptoms that are not caused by another condition. Read more about COVID-19 symptoms.

2021-22 Health and Safety Protocols

Ventilation and Air Quality: We will maintain air quality by managing air circulation and using high-performance air filters. MERV 13 filters have been installed in building HVAC systems and are being supplemented with free-standing HEPA filters in classrooms and other spaces.  SPS has worked with an external ventilation expert who ensured that current practices meet or exceed standards. School spaces  will have four  to six effective air exchanges per hour, except for music rooms and protected health care rooms which will be ten effective air exchanges per hour. The range of 4 to 6 depends on the size of the space and occupancy. School air will be completely flushed for two hours prior to and after occupancy each day.

Cleaning: Classrooms and common spaces will be cleaned and disinfected each day.

Physical Distancing:

  • In classrooms, to the extent possible, students should practice physical distancing of three feet. Staff will should practice physical distancing of six feet to the extent possible per Labor & Industries guidance.
  • In common areas, to the extent possible, maximize physical distancing between students with the goal to maintain six feet physical distance per our agreement with SEA.
  • When possible, students will face the same direction in class or be staggered or sitting at an angle so they aren’t sitting directly across from each other.
  • At lunch, when students have their masks removed, they will sit so that they don’t face each other directly.
  • In hallways, schools will continue to support physical distancing and directional flow.
  • Use of cohorts: Cohorts (keeping small groups of students together during the school day) will not be used in 2021-22 except for lunchrooms or alternative lunch spaces to support contact tracing.

Class size: In-person class size will return to pre-pandemic teacher-to-student ratios.

Plexiglass Barriers: No additional plexiglass barriers will be installed in school buildings. Barriers are no longer listed as an effective COVID-19 prevention strategy in schools by DOH or the CDC.

Contingency Planning: We know families and staff are concerned about the Delta variant and our unvaccinated students. We continue to work in alignment with the Department of Health (DOH) and Public Health requirements and recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep our school communities healthy. If COVID-19 transmission rates continue to increase significantly in our community, our schools and district will be affected.  

You can help us support a safe return to school buildings by continuing to follow the guidance of public health experts, including wearing a mask, getting vaccinated, and limiting non-essential activities if not vaccinated.   

We are organized and prepared to respond to the changing context and needs of students, staff, and families. Learn more about our contingency planning, including how learning is supported if students, classrooms, or schools need to quarantine.

Daily Health Screening/Attestation: SPS will launch a Healthy Schools campaign that will encourage families to keep students home when they have been exposed to COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19, or are sick with other illnesses. Daily health screenings will no longer be used for students and staff and are no longer required by DOH. Visitors, volunteers, and staff who are not regularly at the school building must complete a daily health screening.

COVID-19 Testing: We are excited to offer COVID-19 testing in collaboration with Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and the Health Commons Project. We are starting with testing when symptoms arise or following known exposure – referred to as diagnostic testing. Testing will help us reduce the spread of COVID and will reduce lost instructional time for students.

DOH’s Learn to Return testing program follows a “go slower to go fast” philosophy. By implementing diagnostic testing first, we can have an immediate positive impact in serving our school community while learning how to best expand. Once we get diagnostic testing launched, we will explore a more robust 2021-22 screening program including for students who aren’t vaccinated or are at higher risk.

Contact Tracing: If there is a positive COVID-19 case, our central nursing team will work with Public Health to manage contact tracing. We will notify close contacts, staff, and school community, as needed.

The Washington Department of Health currently defines a close contact as an individual  who was within six feet of a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 total minutes over a 24-hour period during the period of time when the person with COVID-19 was infectious. 

DOH’s definition of a close contact excludes students in an indoor classroom who were at least three feet away from an infected student when: (a) both students were wearing face coverings/masks and (b) other prevention strategies were in place.

Read more about DOH’s definition of a close contactSPS exceeds communication recommendations and notifies families when  there is a positive COVID-19 case in their child’s classroom.

State Guidance on Confirmed Case Threshold: SPS follows the guidance of local and state public health experts to support the health and safety of students and staff in our school buildings. There are not currently any established metrics or thresholds upon which the state would recommend a return to virtual school. As COVID-19 guidance is updated, we will work to keep families informed.

Protected Health Care Room: Per DOH requirements, SPS will continue to have a Protected Health Care Room in each building so that any student or staff who reports COVID-19 symptoms can immediately isolate from others and be sent home as soon as possible. Staff who monitor the room will be provided with enhanced PPE. When a parent or guardian is called to pick up their student, they will be asked if they would like to have their student administer a COVID test.

Limiting High-Risk Activities: Due to high local community COVID-19 transmission and hospitalization rates, we must delay high-risk activities that increase risk of transmission for the first two months of school. 

The following activities will be paused for September and October: 

  • Day field trips to indoor locations  
  • In-person principal chats and all family meetings. Meetings will need to be held remotely through the end of October. 
  • After-school in-person events with families 

Remote Family Meetings: SPS parent meetings with SPS staff will be held virtually via Microsoft Teams. This means curricula nights, family-teacher conferences etc. will be remote. Please check with your student’s school for more information.

Meals: Breakfast and lunch will be provided at no cost for all students at all SPS schools. Meals will look different in order to follow required health and safety protocols. Each school layout is unique, and so each has developed their own meal plan including use of classrooms, outdoor covered areas and tents, gyms, and common spaces to support required physical distancing during lunch. Meals will be grab and go and provide students with a variety of hot and cold options. 

Not all schools have a safe, appropriate space to hold lunch outdoors permanently and for any school there will be times when lunch will have to occur indoors such as heavy rain, snow, extreme wind, and unsafe outdoor air quality (e.g., smoke). SPS can safely implement lunch plans that allow all students to eat inside with the use of effective mitigation strategies. 

Lunch at School

We know that there is concern about safety for students eating lunch at school. We share these concerns and our school leaders have spent the summer developing lunch plans appropriate to their buildings. Not all schools have a safe, appropriate space to hold lunch outdoors and for any school, there will be times when lunch would have to occur indoors such as snow, extreme wind, and unsafe outdoor air quality (e.g., smoke).

SPS can safely implement lunch plans that allow all students to eat inside with use of effective mitigation strategies, such as:

  • Limiting time that students are sitting at lunch
  • Supporting indoor effective air change so that we are either changing or cleaning the air 4-6 times per hour for excellent ventilation.
  • Maximizing physical distancing to the extent possible.
  • Adding lunch periods to reduce the number of students
  • Organizing students so they will not be facing directly across from each other while eating/drinking. They will either be staggered or facing the same direction.

In addition, schools will build a common understanding of good habits while eating lunch:

  • Wash your hands before and after lunch
  • Only remove your mask when you are eating and drinking. Remove  your mask to the side when you take a drink or a bite, then put your mask right back on.
  • Use quiet indoor voices while at lunch. Talking will be limited to when student masks are on.

Each school will communicate their lunch plan to the school community. Please help us prepare by talking with your student about these habits prior to the first day of school.


  • Use of cohorts and physical distancing: The use of cohorts (small groups of students) is no longer required for recess. It will still be important for students to maintain physical distancing of six feet or to the extent possible, including on large playground equipment.
  • Masking: At this time, masking is still required for all SPS staff and students outside at recess, including those who have been vaccinated.

Masks: Universal and correct use of cloth face coverings or masks helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 and is still required for all school personnel, PreK-12 students, families, volunteers, and visitors for 2021-22. Schools will have extra masks on hand for students who may need them.

There are specific exceptions based on age, development, or disability.

Regardless of vaccination status, masks will continue to be worn:

  • In classrooms and  common areas, except when eating or drinking
  • On school buses (a medical exemption may be required if mask wearing is not possible for a student)
  • At this time, masks are still required to be worn outdoors on SPS building sites even though guidance from Washington Department of Health has changed.

Snug-fitting masks provide excellent protection.

  • Make sure masks cover your mouth and nose and fit snugly against the sides of your face and under the chin. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and around the edges of the mask.
  • Use a cloth mask with multiple layers of fabric, or wear a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask.
  • Choose masks with a nose wire or mask fitter
  • For visuals of these tips, visit the CDC’s guidance for improved mask use and King County Public Health Masking guidance.

Enhanced PPE will be provided to staff who have contact with students who are unable to wear masks.

Mask Exceptions: Students, staff, and visitors may remove their masks briefly for eating and drinking. For school photos, students may briefly remove their mask for individual photo-taking (inside or outside) and group photos (outside only).

How to Wear a Mask at School Videos

Hand washing: Hand washing is important to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and schools will continue to teach students proper hand washing, reinforce positive behaviors, and provide adequate supplies.

 Students and staff should wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Hand washing will be encouraged throughout the day, especially when students are changing classrooms, prior to eating, and after playing outside or using the restroom.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will continue to be provided for each school classroom and each school will be supplied with replacement PPE.

Family Visitors: All visitors to schools will be required to follow school COVID health and safety protocols including masking and physical distancing. All visitors will be required to have an appointment. When entering the building, visitors will need to complete an electronic or paper health screening and will need show proof of vaccination. Visitors will also sign in to support contact tracing if needed.

All family meetings will be remote from Sept. 1- October 29 in response to the increase of COVID-19 transmission in our community. This means curricula nights etc., will also be remote.

Volunteers: Volunteers also supporting instruction,  health and safety protocols, lunch supervision and are welcome in schools at the discretion of the school leader. Volunteers will be required to complete a video training on health and safety protocols and will follow the same health protocols as staff and students. Volunteers will be required to be vaccinated, per state requirements.

Community-Based Partners: Community partners are needed in schools to support instruction, and implementation of health and safety protocols. Partners will once again be welcome in schools at the discretion of the school leader. Partners will be required to complete a video training on health and safety protocols and will follow the same health protocols as staff and students. Partners will be required to be vaccinated to enter schools.

School Playgrounds Reopen to the Community June 2021

All SPS playgrounds reopened to the public on June 19 except for those in use by summer or child care programs. School playgrounds are available to the community when students are not present. Fields and tennis courts also are open. However, user groups with permits through Seattle Parks have priority.

The community is asked to follow Washington State Department of Health protocols when using playgrounds and fields. District staff will clean the play toys on school playgrounds regularly.

Seattle Public Schools has consistently followed the guidance of Washington State Department of Health (DOH) in our response to the pandemic. By doing so, we have been able to successfully keep schools open and provide a safe and healthy learning environment for our students and staff.  Read more about how to respond to cases or suspected cases of COVID-19.

How will learning be supported during my child’s quarantine?  

SPS is committed to providing high-quality learning, no matter the circumstances. Your student’s teacher will post instructional plans on Schoology and SeeSaw each week. If you have questions about your child’s learning, please communicate directly with your student’s teachers.  

  • Posted plans will include assignments/homework, learning objectives, required activities, and assessments, with any associated due dates, and may also include links to resources. Teachers may also send additional communications such as emails and newsletters.  
  • Classroom teachers are expected to respond to all parent/guardian and student communications within two business days when possible.  
  • If your student has an IEP or 504, please consult with your IEP case manager and/or 504 coordinator for additional supports or accommodations during this time.  

If my child is required to quarantine, is the absence excused?  


If a full class needs to quarantine or a school is directed to shift instructional models or temporarily close in response to COVID-19 transmission, how will learning be supported?  

Students will shift to the 100% remote model used during the 2020-21 school year. Bell times will remain on the current schedule.  

Required training: All in-person staff must take mandatory COVID-19 protocol training to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in school communities.

Counselors and Nurses: SPS will continue to fund the additional nursing staff hired in the 2020-21 school year to support contact tracing.  

SEL lessons, curriculum, and resources are being provided to support the transition back to full-time in person in the fall for staff, students, and parents/guardians.

The first three days of school will be devoted to learning health and safety protocols and to curriculum prioritizing social emotional learning, restorative practices, and student well-being.

Inquiries of Vaccination Status of Students and Staff: Vaccination status of students and staff is confidential medical information, and as such, we will not be disclosing staff or student vaccination status.

SPS is taking significant COVID-19 health and safety measures to protect our schools and communities, and is complying with the legal mandate that all K–12 school district employees receive a COVID-19 vaccination or be approved for a medical or religious exemption by October 18, 2021.

Vaccinations for Students: SPS will continue to promote vaccinations. The State Board of Health, which sets the Washington state immunization requirements for students, has not currently required the COVID-19 vaccine for students. Families that wish to have their 5 – 11 year old student receive a COVID-19 vaccine have several options including vaccine clinics at SPS schools. Read COVID-19 vaccine clinics.

COVID-19 vaccine is always free. You can find a vaccine location at a pharmacy or clinic near you.

Learn more about vaccination for youth.

Vaccinations Required for Staff and Volunteers: Vaccines are another critical strategy in our fight against COVID, including the highly transmissible Delta variant. On August 18, Governor Inslee announced that the State of Washington’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement will be extended to K-12 educators, school staff, coaches, bus drivers, school volunteers and others working in school facilities. Our central office team is working with our labor partners to implement this state mandate for all our staff. Read more about this directive.


SPS uses culturally responsive ways to engage so we build trusting relationships and empower the voices of those who can help us meet these needs.

SPS is committed to keeping families informed as we return to full-time, in-person learning. Stay in the know with the district newsletter, social media, and our websites to get fresh news and announcements from SPS.

Please make sure we have your most up-to-date information, so you can stay informed.

Family and Student Engagement :

The Equity, Partnership, and Engagement Division has hosted a variety of ethnically, culturally and language specific community  group meetings representing families and students furthest away from educational justice and will continue these engagements, in collaboration with other district departments, as we plan for Fall 2021 and next school year. These spaces will continue to help inform details of the implementation plan.

Students will continue to be engaged through the AAMA Student Leadership Council, as well as surveys. SPS’s Parent Advisory Committee, Seattle Council PTSA, and other parent groups will also be engaged throughout school year 2021-22.

Cross-functional work groups representing school leaders and central office staff were created and operationalized, focused on four key areas: school operations including health and safety, student and staff wellness, high-quality and engaging instruction, and communications, engagement, and responsiveness. These work groups launched this past summer and will continue through the 2021-22 school year.

Seattle Education Association (SEA) and Seattle Public Schools (SPS) have reached a tentative agreement to support layered COVID-19 health and safety strategies to protect our schools and communities.

The agreement provides families and staff with transparency around the safety measures agreed to for the 2021-22 school year. This tentative agreement is subject to approval by both SEA members and the Seattle School Board. View the latest bargaining updates.

In addition to the tentative agreement on health and safety, we have a three-year agreement with Seattle Education Association that concludes at the end of the 2021-22 school year.

The district will collaborate with our SEA partners for a successful Fall 2021 and student-focused school year.

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