SEATTLE — Education will continue for Washington state students, despite all private and public schools being closed through at least April 24 to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Since Gov. Jay Inslee ordered the closure, parents have had to put their teaching hats on and adjust to an online and/or homeschool learning experience.
While most Washington school districts have already begun engaging students and families in learning of some sort, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction expects educational services for all students to start by Monday, March 30.
Some teachers KING 5 spoke with said they've been waiting on guidelines from districts on how to proceed. Jessica Ingersoll, an elementary teacher for Highline Public Schools, is trying to figure out how she'll teach a special education class remotely.
"So much of what we do is hands-on and teaching our students how to solve problems and do their work," said Ingersoll. "I think we're going to have to be creative with it, but it will be possible."
Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau said in a video statement last week the district is working to find the answers for parents and staff.
“I know that this is an unprecedented time and there are so many questions about grades credits and academic learning, we are also still figuring out many things as this closure continues,” said Juneau.
Seattle Public Schools officials said there was no plan in place to transition all 50,000 students to full-time online learning, so it's a lesson plan that's currently being written.
“This idea of online learning is coming a bit more into focus and everything that that means, but that being said I can’t really give you a clear picture of what that means because we’re still trying to work to put that together,” said Tim Robinson, spokesperson for Seattle Public Schools.
Educators were briefly asked to stop online learning unless they could find a way to provide it to all students, but that guidance has since been revised to ensure equity for all students.
"We should avoid assuming that continuity of education outside of a typical school building can only occur through online means," said Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction in a bulletin last week. "Districts will provide instruction using printed learning materials, phone contact, email, technology-based virtual instruction, or a combination to meet student needs."
Robinson said Seattle Public Schools handed out 6,500 paper packets to students who may not be able to access the internet. Teachers have also been asked to contact students by phone twice a week to check-in.
“To our students and families, thank you for working with us during this transition, we are working to find a new normal with you even as things continue to change,” Juneau continued.
In Edmonds, the district handed out more than 7,000 Chromebooks to students to use for remote learning.
"To have a Chromebook and to be able to connect with there teachers makes them feel special and it give us some direction about what we can be doing with our kids," said a mother picking up supplies for her young students.
As teachers in many districts continue to wait for guidance, this week will be the first glimpse at what education looks like amidst the coronavirus.
“A lot of anxiety but also a lot of positivity as teachers have just continued to rise to the occasion and continue to provide for our students,” Ingersoll said.