Back-to-school: Here’s a list of school districts that will start with remote learning this fall

VIDEO: Seattle, several other school districts will start school year with remote learning

Several school districts, including Seattle Public Schools, announced Wednesday that students will not be returning to classrooms for in-person learning this fall and will start the upcoming school year with remote learning.

“I know a lot of factors went into these decisions, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for the school board members, administrators, classroom educators, support staff, parents and families, and community partners who landed on these tough decisions after important community engagement,” said state superintendent of public instruction Chris Reykdal.

Auburn School District

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Auburn students will not be returning this fall with in-person instruction.

Superintendent Alan Spicciati announced that the school will begin in a full distance learning model in September.

It’s unknown how long the district will remain in remote learning but Spicciati said the district will monitor infection rates and rely on public health to determine when schools can reopen.

“We are still planning for a return to in-person instruction in a hybrid or full-time model when public health authorities advise it is safe,” Spicciati said.

Bellevue School District

Bellevue School District’s Superintendent Ivan Duran said Wednesday there was no substitute for in-person learning for its 29 school campuses.

“The school board and I have been planning for a safe return to school as we monitored public health data, gathered information and input from our staff and families, and weighed all of the risks and competing interests,” Duran said. “Based on the steady increase of COVID-19 infections in King County over the last several weeks, they cannot imagine a way to have on-campus learning in the fall without the risk of significant transmission of the virus to students, educators, staff, and the general public.”

The district’s plan is to evaluate the remote start for all after the first six weeks of school.

Edmonds School District

The Edmonds School District will begin the school year on Sept. 9 with fully remote learning model of Continuous Learning 2.0.

Superintendent Dr. Gustavo Balderas said remote learning will be better than it was in spring:

--Streamline digital resources: We plan to offer one digital platform for our 3rd through 12th grade students. Our pre-k through 2nd grade students will have a separate digital platform that we believe is more suitable for younger students. We will share more specifics with families, including how to use these platforms, in the coming weeks.

--Provide clear and consistent expectations: We want our students, families and staff to have a clear understanding of expectations for learning. Students in our advisory group for the planning of Reopening Edmonds Schools 2020 told us they want more day-to-day structure. With that in mind, we will continue to be flexible for our families and meet them where they are when it comes to remote learning.

--Focus on providing a sense of belonging in a virtual environment: We want to have more opportunities for students to connect with their classmates and their teachers, which could include more virtual small group activities. We also will improve communication between families and teachers.

As far as when the district could return to in-person learning, any switch would be done at the start of each new quarter or semester. Health authorities and COVID-19 will ultimately make the decision.

Approximate dates to transition to in-person learning, if it is safe to do so, are Nov. 12, 2020, Feb 3, 2021 and April 14, 2021.

For more information, visit the Reopening Edmonds Schools 2020 FAQ website.

Everett Public Schools

Everett Public Schools will begin the 2020-21 school year with 100% remote learning, Superintendent Ian Saltzman said. The district plans for a staged approach for in-person reentry into its school buildings.

“The staged reentry to schools will be determined by the impacts of a changing COVID-19 pandemic, available resources, direction from Snohomish Health District, OSPI and our Governor. Having the flexibility and agility to move to different models will enable us to provide the best education possible in whatever scenario presents itself. We will continue to focus on supporting students and families with unique needs, including special education services, English language learners, students experiencing homelessness and others.”

There are three scenarios for teaching and learning: 100% in-person learning, hybrid learning, and 100% remote learning. Under the scenarios, there is a breakdown of hybrid stages to allow us to pivot quickly when needed. We have developed a Learning Model Status page, which describes the different models and will be used throughout the year to indicate which stages the district is in at the current moment.

Federal Way Public Schools

Federal Way Public Schools will begin the 2020-21 school year with 100% remote learning, the district said.

The district has 23,000 students and nearly 3,000 staff.

District officials said the remote learning model we will be rolling out in September and it is not the same model students had in the spring.

‘It will be much more robust, structured, and consistent. We are also continuing to refine the hybrid model, so when it’s time to resume in-person instruction, we are ready to do so safely,” the district said.

Anyone with questions is asked to email at or call 253-945-2000.

Highline Public Schools

The school district announced that it will start the upcoming school year in distant learning.

Superintendent Susan Enfield spoke with several nearby districts and after reviewing all the data and feedback, the best course of action was to begin the school year in full distant learning.

“I realize this decision is a relief to some and a hardship for others,” Enfield said. “As the person who ultimately bears responsibility for the health and safety of our students and staff in our schools, I cannot in good conscience open schools for in-person instruction in September.”

Kent School District

Earlier this week, the Kent School District announced it will start the upcoming school year with remote learning.

Lake Stevens School District

The district will begin the 2020-21 school year with distance learning only, on Wednesday, Sept. 2.

Distance learning this fall will include:

  • A Learning Management System that provides consistency in the sharing and organizing of assignments and assessments; providing feedback; sharing content; and communicating with students and families
  • Daily student connections with teachers
  • Live and recorded teaching lessons using robust video tools
  • Small group instruction
  • Engagement and assignment expectations
  • Daily student attendance
  • More traditional grading system at all grade levels

Lake Washington School District

Superintendent Jon Holmen announced Thursday that students will be starting the 2020-21 school year learning in a fully remote setting.

“This decision is being made after a thorough review of available reports and local models. Additionally, I have spent time discussing the current state of our community and county with the King County Department of Health. Given this and the limited guidance districts have received related to re-opening school in the fall; it was decided to start the school year in a remote model.”

Mercer Island School District

Superintendent Donna Colosky said all Mercer Island students, from preschool students to adult transition students, should be prepared for full-time remote learning in the fall.

“One of our priorities is our youngest learners and students who have the most significant needs and require the most acute services. To this end, we hope to have our youngest learners and some students with our most significant needs attend in-person at school with precautions in place as soon as we can safely do so. Remote learning will continue to be the primary format for student learning until we are able to bring students back to our buildings.”

Nothshore School District

Superintendent Michelle Reid said the district plans to use a staged approach for when students return to in-person learning.

“Our district leadership and staff have been working closely with the Northshore Education Association and other labor groups on planning for a number of instructional scenarios in the fall,” Reid said. “The planning process continues to be collaborative with a mutual commitment to the health and safety of our students, staff and their families.”

The district developed a Northshore Learning Model Status page, which will be used throughout the school year.

On the page, there are three scenarios for teaching and learning: 100% in-person learning, hybrid learning and 100% distance learning.

Under these scenarios, there is a breakdown of in-person/distance learning hybrid stages that allow the educational model to pivot at any time between the three scenarios.

The 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, Gov. Jay Inslee and the state health department.

“In working closely with our labor groups in this planning, I want to make it clear that we have heard you,” Reid said.

Renton School District

The Renton School District announced that it will start the school year Sept. 2 with in-home learning only.

The district’s superintendent met with officials from Public Health — Seattle & King County and said they can’t open schools without the risk of significant transmission of COVID-19 based on the current trajectory of infections in King County.

“When first tasked with considering potential reopening plans for the 2020-21 school year, I shared that my guiding principle would be the safety of our students and staff,” said superintendent Damien Patenaude. “While I was, and remain, committed in my desire to get our students back into schools with as much face-to-face time as possible with their teachers and peers, any decision regarding the reopening of our school buildings needs to align with the guidance from our public health officials.”

Seattle Public Schools

Seattle Public Schools students will start the 2020-21 school year with remote learning, the district announced.

The district will continue remote learning until the risk of COVID-19 transmission has decreased enough to resume in-person instruction.

“Every recommendation regarding this fall has been made by taking into consideration the latest data and science,” said Superintendent Juneau. “The current trajectory of infection in King County and the most recent data and information from public health makes it clear that resuming school in-person this fall is impossible.”

The SPS Board of Directors will vote on the superintendent’s recommendation and a plan for Fall 2020 during its regular board meeting on Aug. 12.

Sedro-Woolley School District

The district will be starting the 2020-2021 school year with remote learning.

Superintendent Brockman provided letters to families in English, Spanish and Russian here:

More information about the remote learning model will be released after the school board approves the full plan on August 10.

Tacoma Public Schools

Due to the increasing COVID-19 cases, Tacoma Public Schools had to change its plans for the upcoming year.

“The safety of our staff and students is paramount when making decisions about how to educate our students this fall,” the district said.

The district will shift gears and start preparing for remote learning when school starts Sept. 9.

Superintendent Carla Santorno told the School Board Members she will present the remote learning plan to the school board at its next meeting.