It’s May, parents. Do you know if your child’s school district is preparing to reopen classrooms this fall?
If not, now is the time to give school boards and superintendents a nudge.
Parental pressure will be especially important in public school districts — such as Seattle, Bellevue, Federal Way, Highline, Issaquah, Kent, Lake Washington, Monroe, Renton and Tukwila — that were slow to offer hybrid learning, giving students as little as eight weeks of in-person instruction.
Now that vaccines are widely available and best practices well established, there’s no guarantee the painstaking groundwork laid this spring will make the 2021-22 school year any easier. For one thing, union agreements, a major stumbling block for slow-returning districts, will likely have to be negotiated again.
This year, it took an order from Gov. Jay Inslee and State Education Secretary Chris Reykdal’s threat to withhold federal pandemic relief funding to ensure every Washington K-12 student had the option of a few hours per week of in-class learning. Never mind that some districts had been safely teaching some students in classrooms for the entire school year. Parents should know if their district is actively engaged in preparations to reopen classrooms in September.
The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction recently issued a template and guidance intended to make fall planning easier. They’ve asked districts to share their plans with OSPI in June and again in November. In the interim, it will be up to parents and other community stakeholders to make sure kids’ best interests are at the center of districts’ plans. Parents with children in Seattle Public Schools will have to be especially diligent, since the district still, inexplicably, isn’t posting recordings of special meetings online.
It’s been well over a year since this pandemic threw school operations into chaos. There can be no more justification for jeopardizing the academic, social, mental and physical well-being of Washington’s children.
It may be spring, but fall semester is just a few short months away.
Parents, ask your district, “What’s the plan?”