Dear PSD Families and Staff,
Although we have safely and successfully provided in-person learning to over 800 of our district’s Kindergarten and 1st grade students since Sept. 28, we learned Thursday that we will be asked by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) to discontinue in-person learning indefinitely for K-1 students. The Pierce County COVID-19 case count average metric has moved to the High range, as defined by the Washington State Department of Health Decision Tree for Provision of In-Person Learning. Although Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula area cases are lower than Pierce County’s, TPCHD has local control over the county as a whole and will not make exceptions for specific areas within the county.
We know this change to remote learning may be challenging for many families; therefore, we will continue with our plans for instruction and conferences the week of October 26-30. Kindergarten and 1st grade students will attend school in-person for half-days and then will return to full remote learning on Monday, Nov. 2. Students will remain with their current teacher as we go into our remote environment. Students will still be allowed to meet in small groups (5 or fewer) with up to two staff members in-person, according to health department protocols.
In-person learning opportunities for K-1 children will resume when health measures permit. Additionally, we have completed our plans to integrate our 2nd grade students into our in-person learning model when allowed to return. Planning will also include considerations for a hybrid model for grades 3-12; an advisory group of teachers and district staff will meet next week to discuss hybrid models. We are committed to continue planning to ensure we will be ready for a staged reentry to in-person learning when we are given the opportunity.
As previously shared, 78% of 2nd grade families surveyed requested in-person learning for their child. This percentage is similar to kindergarten and 1st grade families when they were surveyed.
As we toured schools and classrooms this week, we were uplifted as we watched interactions between teachers and our youngest learners. Seeing the learning and hearing the laughter were good reminders of why we continue to advocate for the return of all of our students as soon as safely possible. Our students need to be in school and we want them to be in school. However, the health department currently believes this action is necessary to keep everyone safe during the pandemic.
Thanks to all of you for working tirelessly to make this school year the best it can be during these unprecedented times.
Art Jarvis, Superintendent