Mercer Island School District (MISD) Superintendent Donna Colosky announced July 24 that she has formally recommended to the school board that the district begin the 2020-2021 school year remotely.
“The health and safety of our students, staff, parents and community consistently guided our decisions in the spring and continue to do so now,” Colosky wrote in an update posted to the MISD website. “Therefore, all students from our youngest preschool students through our adult transition students should be preparing for full-time remote learning.”
Colosky noted in her letter that Public Health — Seattle & King County told districts countywide earlier in the week that it was supportive of school years beginning remotely due to the potential spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
In a previous update about fall schooling, Colosky went into detail about how a typical school day moving forward will likely unfold once the school year begins Sept. 2, as well as what different learning models based on health guidelines may be enacted as the year unravels.
“Our goal has been, and always will be, a safe and healthy return to in-person learning as soon as possible,” Colosky said in the July 24 statement. “Along with health and safety, we continue to prioritize the academic, social and emotional experience of our students. Building on the lessons from this spring, we intend to deliver dynamic learning whether our students are learning remotely, learning in the classroom, or when we can safely offer a combination of the two.”
Colosky said in the letter that the district is prioritizing younger learners and students who “have the most significant needs and require the most acute services.”
She said that the district is hoping that these students will be able to attend in-person school with precautions in place “as soon as we can safely do so.”
In the meantime, Colosky wrote, “remote learning will continue to be the primary format for student learning until we are able to bring students back to our buildings.”
She added that details about systems and platforms that will be used under a “red learning day” (i.e., remotely conducted schooling) will be available in the coming weeks.
Colosky said the MISD will be reevaluating every three weeks whether it’s safe to invite students back to campuses.
“Ongoing evaluation and consultation with local health authorities will guide our decision-making as we move through the phases,” she said. “We do know that once we are able to bring students in larger groups back to our buildings that we will phase in their return starting with our youngest learners first.”
At the end of the update, Colosky noted a handful of dates to be mindful of regarding the 2020-‘21 school year.
The district will be hosting a webinar from 5:30-6:30 p.m. July 30 (via Zoom) about remote learning and other facets of school-year planning. After the school board meets for a special session at 5 p.m. Aug. 6, during which it will review the MISD’s entire reopening plan, a community-input meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Aug. 11.
The learning plan for the upcoming school year will be formally adopted by the school board at its Aug. 13 meeting. For more details, go to the MISD website.