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Moving Forward Together 2020-21 School Reopening Update

Dear PSD Staff and Families,

We are writing to share an important update as we move forward together in providing education this fall while holding health and safety as a top priority for students, families, and staff.  

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have followed and continue to follow the guidance of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) on issues of health and safety. Superintendents from Pierce County school districts have been consulting with Dr. Anthony Chen, Director of Health for TPCHD. Dr. Chen told superintendents on Thursday, July 23 that due to the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, he could not recommend school districts open schools for in-person instruction in September.

In a follow-up letter sent by Dr. Chen to superintendents last night, he wrote: “Based on the COVID‐19 disease activity in Pierce County and our region, I do not feel it is safe to open schools in September for traditional classroom learning.” Read the full letter.

Superintendent Jarvis agrees with Dr. Chen and supported his recommendation in a statement he read at last night’s Peninsula School Board of Directors’ meeting. Read Dr. Jarvis’ Reopening Peninsula Schools statement to the school board.

Dr. Jarvis and district leadership recommended a dual learning platform to the board, where students will start remotely in the fall and come back to school in-person later this year if possible. A six staged approach will be used for resuming in-person traditional school. These 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 (OSPI), our governor, and the TPCHD. As the public health situation continues to evolve, we will work with our staff, union leaders, and other stakeholders to adjust our plans. The target date for full implementation of both platforms is January 2021. After hearing public comment and holding discussion, the board approved the district’s plan. 

Therefore, Peninsula School District will:

  1. Plan for almost all students to begin the 2020-2021 school year with a full remote learning model, called Remote Learning 2.0, when classes start on September 8, 2020; and

  2. Bring students back for in-person learning later this year if possible. 

We recognize that remote learning cannot fully meet the needs of all students and we are evaluating how we can safely provide services to students with the most significant needs who require intensive services as defined by an established criteria. Students who meet this criteria may attend in person school for one or more days per week.  

Families will no longer be asked to designate whether their student will be opting for in-person or remote learning for fall. 

We ask for your understanding as we continue with plans for full remote learning to begin the school year. We are committed to sharing information with staff and families as soon as it becomes available.

We recognize these are unprecedented times and decisions about how to navigate school during the pandemic may represent relief for some and significant disappointment and hardship for others.

We know there are many questions, including questions we do not have answers to at this moment. We are working extremely hard to plan and provide answers as soon as possible.

Here are two of key dates with plans to share further information:

  • Monday, August 3: All PSD staff members will have an opportunity to preview the Remote Learning 2.0 Guidebook.

  • Wednesday, August 5: We will share a Remote Learning 2.0 Guidebook with students, staff and community. The detailed guidebook will provide a comprehensive summary of remote learning. It will be emailed to all families, posted to our website, and print copies will be available upon request.

Thank you for partnering with us through this ever-changing and challenging time. This is difficult for all of us, especially our students. Please take a moment to reassure them that we miss them and will do everything we can to make this situation as easy for them as we possibly can. By moving forward together, we can and will get through this.

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