Please read this family message from Superintendent Susan Enfield about our plan to move to in-person hybrid learning.
Dear Highline Families,
Since announcing the March 1 start date for phasing in in-person learning, we have heard concerns from staff and families about safety, scheduling difficulties and potential teacher changes. I want to acknowledge those concerns and the anxiety you are feeling right now.
I know we all want the same things: to keep our families, students and staff safe and to do what is best for our children. I think we can all agree that remote learning is a poor substitute for face-to-face instruction for the vast majority of students and that we all want our students back in school as soon as it is safe to do so.
I promise you, we would not ask students and staff to return to school buildings if we were not confident we can do it safely. Our public health experts are telling us we can do it safely.
About 20 districts in our area have already begun or are soon beginning in-person instruction. Districts across our state and nation--many with COVID rates as high or higher than South King County--have been operating in person for several months safely and successfully. This is consistent with our own experience with students with special needs who are learning in person now; we have had zero transmissions in school since we started in November. Data from other districts show that transmission rates in schools are the same or lower than in the community.
When we look at the data and can objectively say that in-person instruction does not put our staff at greater risk than they experience in the community, it is difficult to justify delaying in-person instruction for families who want it and students who need it. I cannot in good conscience deny our children an opportunity that other children are getting and that our state supports. This will only increase the gaps we are working so hard to close.
The possibility of changing teachers is not what any of us want. I want to reassure you that this is a possibility, not a probability. Try as we might, there was no plan that kept classes together without asking teachers to manage both in-person and remote students at once. We did not feel we could ask that of teachers when they are telling us it would add to their already exhausting workload.
Whether your child has a teacher change or not, this transition will be an adjustment. For some students, though, it will mean they can truly engage in learning for the first time in almost a year. For some families, it will mean they can return to work or increase their work hours and their ability to provide for their families. Our commitment to equity and to becoming an anti-racist organization compels us to hear and serve all students and families in Highline.
We recognize this plan is not ideal for anyone. The unfortunate truth is there is no ideal plan--or even a good plan--but many schools across the country are showing that this plan can work, and work safely.
I know we have all been through so much already. I also know our students are resilient and that with your support and encouragement, they will rise to this challenge, too. I am confident
Our teachers and staff will make the rest of the year a positive experience for your child, in hybrid or remote learning. I know this because if any school district can do it, Highline can--and we will.
Susan Enfield, Ed.D. | Superintendent | Highline Public Schools
Office: 206-631-3070 | email@example.com