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Coupeville Schools Superintendent Steve King

As the world deals with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Coupeville plans to open the 2020-2021 school year with primarily online learning.

Superintendent Steve King released a letter to the community Thursday which said he and the school board are recommending the district start in Phase 2 of a 5-phase plan.

Called the “Remote and Connection Model,” it will incorporate “an improved remote learning model with additional in-person connections for at-school opportunities for specifically identified students.”

The school year is slated to begin September 14.

King’s letter:

 

Over the course of the summer we have been working on multiple options for trying to reopen schools this fall.

As we think about in-person school models, we are following the guidance provided by OSPI, the Governor, and the Department of Health that was provided in June.

This week we received updated K-12 Fall Guidance for opening schools and a K-12 Decision Tree that provides metrics for districts to make decisions about reopening.

The guidance documents include social distancing, face coverings, daily health screenings, and protocols for incidents of COVID exposure that could result in student and/or staff quarantines.

The K-12 Decision Tree puts Island County School Districts in the “Moderate Risk” category for reopening schools.

In addition to all of this guidance, we have surveyed our staff and families in both June and late July and we have reviewed the data from these surveys in order to best serve all of our stakeholders.

We also have been working closely with our local Island County Health Department, OSPI, district administration, union groups, and other school districts in the region to get as much input as possible in order to make this difficult decision.

We are also mindful of the current public health environment in our state and community.

Unfortunately, the rate of COVID infection and the concerns surrounding it have been on the rise over the summer.

We know we do our best work and serve our students, families, and community most effectively when we are able to teach children in our schools 100% of the time, however, it has become clear that we are just not able to fully reopen our schools to in-person instruction this fall.

Given all of these considerations, it is the consensus of our school board and administrative team that our schools open the 20-21 school year in Stage 2, which we are referring to as Coupeville’s Remote and Connection Model.

Coupeville’s Remote and Connection Model means opening schools on September 14 with an improved remote learning model and additional in-person connections for “at-school” opportunities for specifically identified students.

This would provide targeted students some opportunities for face-to-face instruction with staff, while minimizing person-to-person contact.

The additional Connection services would support students with special needs, English language learners, kindergartners, and other students “furthest from educational justice.”

We will also have a strong focus on supporting our students and families with social emotional health this fall which may lead to additional in-person work with students along with remote support.

Throughout this school year we will constantly review our plans, local health outcomes, and the K-12 Decision Tree in order to make school model changes.

Please see our current plans and stages for our phased approach to reopening on our website:

http://www.coupeville.k12.wa.us/c_o_v_i_d_closure_-_c_s_d

The rationale for this plan is as follows:

The public health environment and concern in regards to public health in our state and local community are not improving.

Opening with any in-person school model this fall will likely lead to staff and student cohorts quarantined due to exposures. It may also lead to extended school closures.

This would create significant disruptions and no predictable teaching/learning model.

Students and staff perform most effectively with a stable, consistent instructional plan where expectations for engagement and learning are clear and implemented.

Deciding on this approach now allows us to continue to focus on improving our remote model based upon the successes and lessons learned from our spring experience.

With more time for training and implementation we are very confident we will deliver a better distance learning model this fall.

Making this decision now allows staff to focus on opportunities for specifically identified students with unique needs such as kindergarteners and preschoolers, English language learners (ELL), students with special needs, and other students “furthest from educational justice” to have some level of in-person interaction with staff.

These will be tightly managed small group or individual experiences, adhering to all OSPI, Department of Health, and Governor’s Office guidance.

The current 58 pages of guidelines for reopening schools for in-person instruction would likely have a significant negative impact on the learning environment in our schools and classrooms.

At the next school board meeting, August 24, the board will be asked to approve this plan.

Sadly, this pandemic has challenged all of us in many ways. We recognize any change to our regular school model creates complications.

We make this decision with the strong belief that it is the safest option for our community as a whole.

I am so thankful for your patience and understanding during these unprecedented times.

Please continue to show compassion and grace for others in our great community of Coupeville.

I am saddened by the negative impacts that this decision has on so many people, but I am passionate and continue to be optimistic that we will eventually refill our classrooms and hallways with our amazing students when it is safe to do so.

I am certain everyone has many questions regarding the above plan; please keep an eye out for more information in the days ahead.

Please stay safe, healthy and take care,

Steve King

Superintendent

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Coupeville Schools Superintendent Steve King

Coupeville schools, in whatever form they operate this fall, will open six days later than originally planned.

The first day was set for September 8, but has been moved to Sept. 14 to allow staff members and teachers extra time to prepare for a return to education in the age of coronavirus.

“This will give our district almost two weeks of formal training and preparation so that we can be successful in launching the school year,” Coupeville Schools Superintendent Steve King said in an email sent to parents.

Oak Harbor schools, which were set to start Sept. 3, are also moving to a Sept. 14 start.

While most large school districts across Washington state have publicly announced a move to 100% online learning to start the fall, King has previously said Coupeville will announce a decision Aug. 7.

In his email to parents, the superintendent included a survey, seeking input on four education models.

“I will start by saying that this is all very complex and is a very difficult decision,” King said. “I can tell you that all four models I am giving you and our community members can all be delivered in compliance with the state guidelines for opening.

“If we have students in person we can sanitize and disinfect our schools on a daily basis, we can do health screening, and we can set up classrooms with students six feet apart.

“We also are committed to providing training for whatever model we reopen with.”

King also noted feedback may influence future decisions on how Coupeville phases back into school, if there is a complete online start, either by local decision or state mandate.

So far, Governor Jay Inslee and Superintendent of Public Education Chris Reykdal have left the decision in the hands of local superintendents, but, with COVID-19 cases surging, the decision may come down from the head office.

For now, Coupeville is broaching four plans:

 

Everyday Reopening Model:

Modified schedule (Middle School/High School 8:00 AM-1:30 PM, Elementary 9:30-3:00)

Teacher planning periods will take place outside student school day to maximize teaching force/reduce class size.

Students will lose specialist time at elementary and some electives at secondary, allowing a few elective and specialist teachers to operate as school substitutes to ensure subs are available for sick teachers.

Lunches will be delivered to classrooms, with no school assemblies in order to avoid large gatherings.

Large spaces such as gyms and the CHS Performing Arts Center will be utilized as additional classroom space.

Outdoor learning will be emphasized for classes, with PE taking place outdoors on a daily basis.

 

K-3 Everyday & Hybrid Model:

K-3 will be in class Monday-Friday.

There will be two options for grades 4-12 — in school Monday-Tuesday, online Wednesday-Friday, or online Monday-Tuesday, in school Wednesday-Thursday, online Friday.

Students in 4-12 will be assigned additional work for remote learning days, with teachers available each Friday for virtual check-ins with students and/or family.

 

K-12 All Hybrid Model:

Two options – in school Monday-Tuesday, online Wednesday-Friday, or online Monday-Tuesday, in school Wednesday-Thursday, online Friday.

 

Remote or Distance Model:

Online Monday-Friday.

All students will start school year with remote or distance learning, then be able to transition back to in-person education when it is decided it is safe to hold school.

Likely that schools would transition from this to a hybrid model first, before returning to traditional full in-person school day.

In this model, Coupeville will provide more distance learning training for teachers and parents, and will work with local organizations to assist families with essential workers with childcare.

 

For families who don’t want to return their students to in-person school, the district is also working with Spokane Virtual Learning to create a version of its program which would be provided by Coupeville teachers.

If that option is chosen, a student is locked-in, and can’t return to in-person learning during the 2020-21 school year.

For more info on the program, pop over to:

https://www.spokaneschools.org/svl

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Coupeville Schools Superintendent Steve King

The Coupeville School District is targeting August 7 for an announcement on how it will reopen for the 2020-2021 school year.

The first day of school is currently set for Sept. 8.

“I know that this is a top priority for everyone and I will start by saying that we are committed to educating our students with health and safety as a top priority,” Superintendent Steve King said in an email.

“We also need to make sure that we address issues of equity, giving each and every student in our district the opportunity to be successful.”

Coupeville schools, like all others in Washington state, have been shut down since March as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.

A decision will need to be made as to whether to return to full-time in-person teaching, full-time online learning, or a hybrid of the two.

Many larger school districts in the state, from Seattle to Tahoma, have chosen the 100% online option this week.

Coupeville is in a unique situation, though, as Island County is in Phase 3 of Governor Jay Inslee’s four-phase reopening plan, while all surrounding counties are still in Phase 2.

In his email, King said the district is sending out a second survey to staff and families to gauge where everyone stands on the different educational options.

The Superintendent will also consult with school board members, union group leaders, Island County Public Health officials, and his peers from the Oak Harbor and South Whidbey school districts.

King and his staff are reviewing regional and state health data, and also working closely with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Northwest Educational Service District.

Whatever decision King comes to will need to be approved by the Island County Health Department.

After all that, it is entirely possible the decision will be taken out of his hands, he admitted.

“Over the past several months I have learned that trying to predict things can be dangerous and we can certainly never count on anyone’s predictions during these unprecedented times,” King said.

“Having said that, I want you to know that I do think that there is at least some possibility that the state may only allow remote or distance learning as the school year approaches.”

The Washington Education Association has asked Inslee to mandate all state schools use the 100% online option when schools open, but, for now, the choice remains in the hands of the superintendents.

“At this point opening schools is still a local decision,” King said. “So we will proceed with our decision-making plan as I have outlined.

“I hope that each and every one of you enjoy the rest of your summer and I encourage everyone to enjoy the many positives that continue to exist in our lives even during difficult times like these.”

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