BOTHELL — Staying true to her word of sharing fall reopening information as it becomes available, Northshore School Superintendent Michelle Reid said recently released reports show it is not advisable to allow students to walk through the doors come September.
“Guidance from Seattle King County Public Health indicates that with the current community transmission rate data, it is not safe to reopen schools in person at this time,” Reid said during a recent live stream video on YouTube. "Further with Governor Inslee reducing the number of congregants even in Phase 3, we do not we do not find reopening school in person feasible now.”
Reid went on to say as the science of COVID-19 continues to evolve the district's understanding of the impact of young people on the possible community transmission rates has become better known.
“What’s really clear as we look at other countries’ dilemma is, science is evolving rapidly,” Reid said. “A recent study out of South Korea that looked at teenagers and adolescents who would be in our secondary schools indicates the transmission rate could be higher than our adult transmission. We also have a significant number of high-risk staff we have in critical positions, which makes the task of reopening schools in person compounded.”
So, unless there is a drastic change in the slowing of the spread of the coronavirus, and King and Snohomish County moves into a Phase 3 plus situation, Reid said the district’s plan has students begin the 2020-21 school year with a robust and flexible 100% distance learning model.
“We’re calling it Northshore Learns 3.0, and will be using a staged approach for students to be re-entering school in person,” Reid said. “Our district leadership and staff have been working closely with labor groups on planning for a number of instructional scenarios in the fall — instruction that continues to align with our 2017-22 strategic plan goals and yet is and yet is flexible and responsive to restrictions presented by our region’s current health crisis.”
Northshore Learns 3.0 spells out a hybrid and 100% in-person learning plan too. The in-depth planning process, Reid said is a collaborative effort with a mutual commitment to the health and safety of our students, staff and their families.
“Under these scenarios, there is a breakdown of in-person/distance learning hybrid stages that allow our educational model to pivot at any time between the three scenarios,” Reid said. “These six stages will be determined by the impacts of a changing health situation, available resources, and direction from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, our Governor and our Health Departments. As the public health situation continues to evolve, the district, the Northshore Education Association, and other labor groups will continue to work together to adjust.”
One of the labors groups the district is working with is the Northshore Education Association (NEA).
“Over the past couple of weeks, I think the groups have developed some very good learning plans with video and camera equipment to up the game in 3.0,” said Tim Brittell, president of Northshore Education Association.”
Reid said she also wants parents in the district to know their responses from recent surveys have not fallen on deaf ears.
“We have reviewed 12,600 pieces of feedback and have had conversations with staff, student groups, parent groups, and in emails and phone calls," Reid said. "A number of teams are thoughtfully working on the implementation detail planning to begin the 2020-21 school year with distance learning in a Northshore modified Stage 2 of Governor Inslee’s plan."
Several questions have arisen including how virtual learning will impact the in-person teacher-students relationship typically developed in the classroom.
“That’s been a big topic of conversation with all of us the last several days,” Brittell said. “We are planning on doing what we call a soft start, which will allow parents, students and teachers they are assigned to get to know each other as much as possible. All of this takes time to plan and figure out and that’s what we are focusing on right now.”
If students are allowed back in the classroom this year, the first group, Reid said, are those in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and Flexible Spending Account (FSA) program.
"They will be the first coming back to in-person," Reid said. "We recognize that the challenges for some students are more significant than the challenges are for other students in terms of the direct support they need."
A link to the YouTube video Northshore Learns News and frequents updates on the fall reopening of schools can be found on the Northshore School District website.