Frequently Asked Questions

Returning to School 2021-2022 FAQ

This page will be regularly updated as school guidance evolves from various parties, including King County Public Health, the Washington State Department of Health, and Center for Disease Control. 

General FAQ's as it relates to COVID-19 are available on the Washington State Department of Health website. Here you can get all of your questions answered including COVID-19 basics, face coverings, vaccinations, and guidance for you and your family.

Thank you to everyone in our community that provided feedback on our FAQ in mid-August via the ThoughtExchange. We have updated this webpage with your feedback and will continue to add questions as they arise.

General Questions

We acknowledge that going back to school this year is different from most. It will be especially important this year to normalize student’s feelings. Our Positive Behavior and Social Emotional Support (PBSES) program in our schools focuses on the social and emotional needs of students, particularly the importance of explicitly teaching expected behaviors and positively reinforcing those behaviors. The district’s Teaching and Learning Department is working on identifying essential learnings and building up students’ stamina for learning. We will continue to implement social and emotional lessons to support students will the skills necessary to have positive relationships with others, manage their stress, and develop resilience.

The district will also use universal screening to identify K-12 students that may need additional support. We have school counselors on-site at every school that have received training on school anxiety and cognitive behavioral skills training. We also have access to Swedish Hospital Social Workers if students need additional support or referrals to outside agencies. 

Parents can collaborate with the school in these efforts by explaining that other students and even adults may be feeling similar to how they are feeling about returning to school. Observe your child’s behavior, you know them better than anyone else, and notify the school when you feel they need support. 

The three feet distance required for physical distancing is measured from center of desk to center of desk. 

District custodial teams are cleaning and disinfecting schools in accordance with the K-12 COVID-19 Requirements for Summer 2021 and the 2021-2022 School Year document issued by the Washington State Department of Health. This includes nightly cleaning and disinfecting of high touch surfaces such as door handles, sinks, faucets, and handrails. The custodial team uses a hydrogen peroxide-based disinfection product the is registered with the EPA as effective in killing the coronavirus. Additionally, the custodial team only uses cleaning products that are unscented and are not considered irritants for staff and students that have sensitivities to smells and other indoor air pollutants. 

We remain steadfast in our goal and desire and direction from the ISD School Board, Governor of Washington State, Superintendent of Public Instruction OSPI, Washington State Department of Health, Seattle King County DOH, Center for Disease Control and President of the United States to open our schools full-time to in-person learning for all students. With that consideration, and based on feedback regarding in-person versus remote learning for the 2021-2022 school year, the district has chosen to use our limited staff and financial resources to focus solely on in-person schooling. Operating in-person with the addition of COVID mitigation personnel takes additional resources, and if we were to divert or divide those resources to offer multiple learning models that could diminish our ability to offer the robust in-person experience desired. It may also result in a less than adequate fully remote program.

For remote learning options, we are encouraging families to look into one of the many OSPI approved and accredited on-line programs. If families choose to enroll in an on-line program, but later decide they are comfortable sending their student back to the ISD for in-person learning, they are more than welcome to do so. Please contact your school’s registrar to re-enroll.

The district also continues to offers a part-time Online Learning program for grades 7-12. Students can take 1-2 semester long online learning courses each semester, with a maximum of 8 total online learning courses (4 credits) during their high school career. For more information on this model, please visit our Online Learning webpage.

There are no plans currently to create a hybrid learning option. If hybrid learning returns it will be per guidance from the Washington State Department of Health or Governor’s Office.

What is the ISD’s plan if schools are closed again? The district continues to develop contingency plans as the situation with COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve. As each wave of the pandemic has proved to be different, we will follow guidance provided by the State of Washington if schools are closed again. All details will be released on the ISD website as they become available.

Currently we are developing a plan for technology distribution for those in need in the event schools are closed. That plan will be detailed on our website in the next couple of weeks.

Is there a threshold of cases for returning to hybrid or remote learning? No. If a return to hybrid or remote learning is necessary due to increasing COVID-19 cases, guidance will be received from the Washington State Department of Health or the Governor’s Office.

The reduction in force (RIF) this past spring did not increase class sizes. Rather, this “right sizing” ensured we had the appropriate number of staff hired to serve our current enrollment of students. With the drop in enrollment in 2020-21, and a projected decrease this coming school year, the District will likely have an enrollment decline totaling nearly 1,600 students over a two-year period. In this case, fewer students means fewer staff services are needed. 

Layered mitigation is the utilization of multiple mitigation strategies together. This has proven to be the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The layers, as required by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), that we are utilizing as a District include vaccines, masks, physical distancing, improved ventilation, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, cleaning and disinfecting, staying home when sick, testing, and contact tracing in combination with quarantining. Please remember that masks are to be worn by all individuals, regardless of vaccination status. 

Staff are excited to have students back to school learning this fall. To preserve learning time, any travel is recommended to be done outside of the days where school is in session. If you do plan to travel, King County has outlined travel recommendations.
 

At this time the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has shared that they have no particular number of students or classrooms that would necessitate the closing of a whole classroom, whole school, or our entire school system. Regardless, the District has plans of how we will modify student learning if such closures became required.

As you are likely aware, if a vaccinated individual has a close contact and they remain asymptomatic, they are not required to quarantine. If an individual does experience symptoms, despite receiving the required vaccine, they will be required to use sick leave as appropriate. In the case of high levels of close contacts the following will happen:

  • Whole classroom quarantine: teachers who are not required to quarantine will teach from their classrooms to students who will learn from home using appropriate technology. Laptops and internet access are available for families to pick up at their school site immediately, if/when this process is triggered. Students will learn digitally through Teams or Zoom and the Learning Management System (LMS) tied to their grade level. The LMS's at the elementary level are Clever and Seesaw and at the middle and high school level, Canvas. If a teacher is required to quarantine they will use sick leave and a substitute teacher will teach from the teacher’s classroom to students who will learn from home using appropriate technology.
  • Whole school quarantine: teachers who are not required to quarantine will teach from their classrooms to students who will learn from home using appropriate technology. Laptops and internet access are available for families to pick up at their school site immediately, if/when this process is triggered. Students will learn digitally through Teams or Zoom and the Learning Management System (LMS) tied to their grade level. The LMS's at the elementary level are Clever and Seesaw and at the middle and high school level, Canvas. If a teacher is required to quarantine they will use sick leave and a substitute teacher will teach from the teacher’s classroom to students who will learn from home using appropriate technology.
  • Entire school system quarantine: teachers who are not required to quarantine will teach from their classrooms to students who will learn from home using appropriate technology. Laptops and internet access are available for families to pick up at their school site immediately, if/when this process is triggered. Students will learn digitally through Teams or Zoom and the Learning Management System (LMS) tied to their grade level. The LMS's at the elementary level are Clever and Seesaw and at the middle and high school level, Canvas. If a teacher is required to quarantine they will use sick leave and a substitute teacher will teach from the teacher’s classroom to students who will learn from home using appropriate technology.

If the DOH changes their guidance and/or develops a metric for the District to follow, our plans will adjust, in partnership with our labor organizations.