Planning for 2020-21 School Year
We are planning for students to return to school in Fall 2020, but school will have to be different to keep students, staff and families safe during the pandemic. As always, our priority is the health and safety of students and staff.
Based on the trajectory of COVID infections in King County, feedback from staff and families, and conversations with our neighboring school districts, we have decided that Highline schools will open in September with distance learning.
At this time, we cannot predict how long we will remain in distance learning. We will monitor infection rates and rely on public health guidance to determine when we can safely reopen school buildings. We will consult the Department of Health decision making tool when deciding to transition to in-person learning and activities.
We are still planning for a return to in-person instruction in our hybrid model with social distancing when we are able to reopen school buildings. When we do reopen, students will have the option to continue distance learning if they choose. As much as possible, students will stay with their teachers and classmates while learning from home.
We have learned from your feedback and our experience last spring, and our Academics workgroup is developing a significantly improved distance learning program that includes:
- Live instruction via zoom
- Virtual small group support.
- Improved broadband internet access, with support from our cities
- A device for EVERY individual student
- Non-digital learning materials (math books and manipulatives, literacy notebooks, etc.)
We recognize that distance learning cannot fully meet the needs of some students with special needs, and we are evaluating the extent to which we can provide therapeutic services to students who need them.
Since we will offer distance learning as an option after hybrid learning starts, we will postpone the opening of Highline Virtual Academy until Fall 2021. This allows us to fully focus on our improved distance learning program, which will be significantly different than what students experienced last spring.
This gives also us the opportunity to thoughtfully develop a permanent high-quality, challenging online school for Highline students who thrive in this environment.
We believe that keeping our students and teachers together--in distance learning or hybrid models--throughout this school year is critical for meeting the social-emotional needs of our students, which is especially important during a time of crisis and upheaval.
When infection rates decrease, we will move into a hybrid model where all students in grades 1-12 return to in-person learning two days a week, 50 percent of students attending Monday-Tuesday and the other 50 percent Thursday-Friday. Wednesday would be a day for teacher collaboration and planning and for thorough cleaning to sanitize the school between groups. Students would do distance learning on the three days they are not in school buildings.
Pre-k and kindergarten students would attend school four days a week (M, T, TH, F), and potentially some students with special needs that cannot be met through distance learning.
Families who wish to stay in distance learning throughout the 2020-21 school year will have that option.
We are developing Highline Virtual Academy as an all online option for students who thrive in that educational environment. Our goal is to have it operational and ready for enrollment in Fall 2021.
We anticipate the virtual academy schedule would follow a typical school day schedule. It may include virtual live instruction and/or recorded video lessons.