The Auburn School District is at work on getting students back to school in the fall.
But the question on everyone’s mind is just what “back to school” will mean during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some days a week at home and virtual, with a couple of days at school?
“Based on what we know today, we will have school in the fall, but it will look significantly different,” said Dr. Alan Spicciati, Auburn School District Superintendent. “The biggest factor out of our control is the virus. We need all Washingtonians to act responsibly and use common sense so we can get our kids back to school in the fall.
“Beyond that, OSPI and the Department of Health really determine a lot of the parameters for reopening, and from there we design the details. So, we don’t have a lot of flexibility, but we do have ways to do things that will make this work best for Auburn families and staff,” Spicciati said.
Guided by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the state Department of Health, and state Department of Labor and Industries, Spicciati said in a letter to district parents last week that five work groups composed of students, teachers, custodians, child nutrition personnel, transportation personnel, parents, school board members, principals, nurses and others are working on recommendations for an executive committee that is overseeing plans for next year.
The work groups are at work on five areas:
■ Inclusive teaching and learning practices
■ Teaching and learning logistics
■ Student and staff wellness
■ Student and family engagement
■ Health and safety
The workgroups plan to make their preliminary recommendations next week, and the executive committee and district administrators will then evaluate the feasibility and logistics of the recommendations that will address different scenarios for the 2020-21 school year.
Already settled is that the school district will have a fully online option for families who want that choice for their student, and that the state requirement to keep a 6-foot distance between students will limit classroom sizes.
“We are examining all options to maximize in-person education, including a hybrid model for students to attend in-person part-time and do part-time work online,” Spicciati said.
The district is likewise planning for the possibility of having to switch from part-time in-person to full-time online, should Gov. Jay Inslee close schools again. The district also is in regular contact with the state health department.
“This work is of paramount importance as we prepare to reopen schools safely to serve our students, families, staff and the community of Auburn,” Spicciati said. “Our target is to provide the community with an opportunity to review the plans for the 2020-21 school year by mid-July. We created a website to update the community on the planning process.”
Spicciati added that the new Bowman Creek elementary School on Kersey Way and the rebuilt Dick Scobee elementary school on 14th Street Northeast will be ready in September, “and if the virus lets us be back in school in September, we will have students in both of those buildings.”
The district will continue to provide updates in the coming weeks.