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Seattle Public Schools will replace snow days with remote learning for the rest of the year

Seattle Public Schools sent a memo out to parents this week advising them that remote learning will take the place of snow days for the rest of the school year.

SEATTLE — Snow days are now a thing of the past for Seattle Public Schools, at least for this school year. 

The district sent out a memo to parents this week saying snow days will now be remote instruction days. The memo stated that the decision was based off parent and staff requests to not extend the school year into July with makeup days. But some parents say they feel like their children were not considered in this decision.

“All of these students that already proved that this doesn't work and it causes regression or no progress, like we're doing this all over again,” said Adele Kulisewa, a parent of two students in Seattle Public Schools.

Kulisewa said one of her children has physical and intellectual disabilities and she says remote learning is not a viable option and did not work for them during the peak of the pandemic.

“It was really difficult both emotionally and also just developmentally to just watch my student really struggle,” said Kulisewa.

Kulisewa is not the only parent with concerns, according to Samantha Fogg, who is the co-president of Seattle Council PTSA.

“There are still students who will not be able to access education remotely,” said Fogg. “That is still going to be the case.”

Seattle Public Schools started its school year late because teachers were on strike, which is already causing school to go until June 30 this year. Makeup days from snow days would be at the start of July, which is why the district is now doing remote learning on snow days.

"I have had calls and conversations with families who've felt really passionate about both options,” said Fogg.

But she said it is important to listen to those families who face barriers and are most impacted.

Community engagement, family engagement, talking to impacted families can help us get to the best solutions and also can help us to mitigate issues,” said Fogg.

Parents like Kulisewa did not feel like community engagement happened this time around.

“We should look to educate those kids who really need us there the most, because everyone is going to be okay if we take care of those kids who have the highest needs,” said Kulisewa.

The district said that on the first day of remote instruction due to weather, there will be a two-hour delayed start to ensure staff and students are ready to begin learning. The district said if there are consecutive days of inclement weather, the following days will begin at the normal start time.

Seattle Public Schools is making laptops and iPads available to students and are telling students to take them home before the Christmas break. The district said families in need of internet access at home should apply to the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The district said this will be a year-by-year decision.

KING 5 reached out to other districts to see if they would be doing remote learning in place of snow days. We heard back from Bellevue School District No. 405 and the Snohomish School District. Both districts said that they will continue to have snow days and will use make-up days that are already included in the calendar.

We also reached out to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction about this decision. They sent us the following statement:

“OSPI continues to advise school districts to use caution when deciding to switch to remote instruction when students cannot learn from their school buildings due to unforeseen circumstances, like weather-related events or other short-term closures. School districts are advised to consider whether each and every student will have access to the equipment, materials, and household environment needed to fully engage with their learning away from the school building and ensure the proper planning has occurred for the shift to be successful. If a district determines they can provide equitable access to remote learning and it is the best alternative for all students, families, and educators, they have the option to provide continuous learning through remote instruction. So far this school year, OSPI has seen most school districts take “snow days” instead of providing continuous learning.”

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