A majority of schools in western Washington have opted to start the 2020-21 school year remotely in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
As coronavirus cases continue to generally decrease in the state, some schools have already created tentative plans to return students back to the classrooms for in-person learning or a hybrid learning plan:
Arlington Public Schools
The Arlington Public Schools Board of Directors voted on Sept. 28 to push back the start of hybrid learning.
Hybrid learning for kindergarteners and first-grade students in the district will begin Monday, Oct. 12. The board previously voted to start hybrid learning on Oct. 5.
“The board moved the start of hybrid learning for our youngest elementary students to give teachers more time to transition from full-time distance learning to a hybrid model,” said Arlington Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Chrys Sweeting. “We want to make sure this hybrid model is successful for our students.”
Kindergartners and first graders will be in the classroom two days a week and will have three days of remote learning, according to the district’s website. Half of the students will be on campus Monday and Tuesday, and the other half will be on campus Wednesday and Thursday.
Students and staff will be required to wear a face-covering, and desks will be separated by at least six feet. Students and staff will also have their temperature checked when they arrive at school. Students will each lunch in their classrooms and have recess with their own class.
Arlington Public Schools students have been learning from home since Sept. 1.
The district has not released any information about when older students will return to the classroom at this time.
Bellevue School District
Due to rising coronavirus cases, Bellevue postponed a return to in-person learning until January.
Pending health data, elementary students could resume in-person classes after Winter Break, and secondary students could resume in-person learning during the second semester.
Previously the district was planning to bring first and second graders back into the classroom by Oct. 26 and all elementary students back by Nov. 9.
Bellingham Public Schools
Bellingham Public Schools announced Oct. 15 that kindergarten, first grade and elementary special education students will return to the classroom in November.
Here's the timeline to resume in-person learning for those groups:
Nov. 2: Kindergarten and Kindergarten through second grade students who receive special education services through Life Skills and BRIDGES
Nov. 12: First grade and third through fifth grade students who receive special education services through Life Skills and BRIDGES
The schedule will be Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Bethel School District
Bethel School District announced Sept. 23 it plans to start bringing students back into classrooms in mid- to late October using a hybrid model.
Under this model, students would either be in the classroom on Mondays and Thursdays or Tuesdays and Fridays. On the other days, students would learn independently under the teacher's direction.
The school district provided the following target timeline to resume in-person classes:
Mid- to late October: Students in preschool through second grade begin a hybrid model.
About one week later: Students in third through fifth grade begin a hybrid model.
A date hasn't been set for middle and high school students to return.
Central Kitsap School District
Preschool, kindergarten, and first grade students could be back in the classroom for four half days by Nov. 9.
The students will learn remotely on the other half of each day and all Wednesday.
The plan is a departure from what the district originally planned on, but district officials say the remote learning portion of the schedule will be "more manageable," and reduce the number of videos students need to watch.
If the district can successfully bring back those students, it will gradually add in students up to fifth grade through the beginning of next year. Second and third graders could be back in the classroom by December. Fourth and Fifth graders back by January. These students will attend via the same half-day model.
Students in sixth grade and up will likely remain in fully remote learning until at least Jan. 28. Some small groups may begin transitioning back during the first semester, however.
Lynden School District
Lynden School District announced Sept. 21 that its youngest students will return to the classroom starting Oct. 5 with more students returning incrementally over time.
Here are highlights of the district's phased reopening plan with target dates based on estimated COVID-19 activity:
Oct. 5: Kindergarten and first and second grade students return to in-person classes. The district will decide by Sept. 25 whether that's full-time or a hybrid model.
Oct. 23: Possible start for in-person learning for third, fourth and fifth grade students. Model to be determined.
Nov. 2: Possible start for in-person learning for middle school students. Model to be determined.
Nov. 16: Possible start for in-person learning for high school students. Model to be determined.
Monroe School District
With the Snohomish Health District recommending districts prepare to incrementally bring back elementary students, the Monroe School District is preparing to bring back its developmental preschool and all kindergarten students by Oct. 12.
The district will wait at least three weeks after those students return before bringing any additional grade levels back for in-person learning.
It is currently not recommended that students in grades six through 12 return to in-person learning.
A fully-remote option will remain.
Mount Vernon School District
The Mount Vernon School District sent a letter to parents Sept. 28 announcing its plans to start bringing students in small groups back into classrooms.
The district cited a declining number of new COVID-19 cases in Skagit County as a reason to start bringing students back. The district said it believes the decline “creates an opportunity to begin to safely expand on-site, in-person educational programming.”
As part of the district’s Remote Plus Model, there is already an initial group of high need students receiving in-person support.
The letter to parents from Superintendent Ismael Vivanco says the district will add “another layer of students to our in-person educational program” the week of Sept. 28 for elementary, and “during the week of Oct. 12 for our secondary schools.”
Vivanco said in the letter that the district’s planning teams and labor leaders are working to make the transitions successful, and that “increasing in-person opportunities while remaining safe for students and staff is paramount in our planning.”
“The challenge with planning and establishing specific dates for additional in-person learning is that there are many variables that may prevent those plans from proceeding,” Vivanco wrote. “Several districts have set dates, only to have to pull them back. To that point, I am reluctant to put out specific dates too far into the future. We will continue to communicate with the local and state Health Departments, closely monitor our status, and continue to adjust as quickly as possible.”
North Thurston Public Schools
Planning for bringing small groups of students on site has resumed after North Thurston Public Schools officials evaluated new guidance and clarifications from the Washington Department of Labor and Industries.
All required personal protective equipment has been delivered to buildings and administrators.
Peninsula School District
Students in early learning, kindergarten, first grade, and special education returned to school in September.
All other students continue to learn remotely.
Puyallup School District
Puyallup School District students will begin to return to in-person instruction beginning Sept. 29 if Pierce County continues to meet COVID-19 targets set by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and state Department of Health, the district said on its website.
The phased approach will start with offering a hybrid in-person schedule to the most vulnerable students first:
Special education and developmental preschool: On Sept. 29, small groups of self-contained special education students including developmental preschool, secondary McKinney Vento students will return on a reduced schedule which will be communicated directly to families by their schools and teachers.
K-1st grade: On Oct. 6, students in grades K-1 would return to in-person instruction four days a week, with Mondays in a Continuous (Distance) Learning from home model.
Grades 2-6: Starting Oct. 13, students in grades 2-6 would return to a hybrid in-person A/B schedule two days a week—either Tuesday and Thursday OR Wednesday and Friday, with Mondays in a Continuous (Distance) Learning from home model.
Junior and Senior High: No sooner than Nov. 3, secondary students in junior and senior high schools would return to a hybrid in-person A/B schedule two days a week—either Tuesday and Thursday or Wednesday and Friday, with Mondays in a Continuous (Distance) Learning from home model.
The district advises parents to review the PSD Reopening Playbook as the district prepares for a hybrid in-person learning model
Tacoma Public Schools
Tacoma Public Schools pulled back on plans to resume in-person instruction for kindergartners and special education students after receiving clarified guidance on personal protective equipment from the Department of Labor and Industries.
Those groups of students were originally supposed to resume in-person classes Sept. 28.
Under the clarified guidance, Tacoma Public Schools says "a significant number of staff members" are required to be trained and fitted with N95 masks, which the district has begun the process of doing.
During safety testing, the district also discovered many of its N95 masks did not pass safety standards.
The district did not provide a new timeline for in-person classes.