MISD Fall 2020 FAQs

  • Our family is considering participating in a learning "pod" (also known as micro-schools and co-ops)

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    Follow this link for more information about "pods" and how the Mercer Island School District views and supports this arrangement.

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  • When will elementary class placements be communicated?

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    Class lists are in flux throughout August, which is consistent with any other school year. Offices are reopening in early August. We are still registering families and updating enrollment numbers. We want to send out teacher assignment information that is accurate. As always, we want to make sure that class lists are balanced and equitably created. Child care/supervision considerations can be independent of classroom assignments. Grade level teachers will be collaborating closely to support the students at their own school. Daily work and grade-level expectations will be fairly consistent. Accordingly, it is not necessary that students of the same grade who are learning together have the same classroom teacher.

    Every child’s placement is important and deserves careful consideration. Groupings based solely on parent requests can result in unequal class size, and/or classes organized by friendship groups, neighborhoods, etc. All classes will be balanced with regard to student instructional levels, gender, learning styles, and the number of students. Our teachers are accustomed to communicating with 20 or more families in any given year, and possible learning "pods" will not impact this commitment. Teacher assignment information will be shared the week before school starts.

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  • Will the District begin the new school year using remote learning?

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    On July 24, Superintendent Colosky made the recommendation to the School Board that the Mercer Island School District begin the 2020-21 school year with a remote learning model. The health and safety of our students, staff, parents and community consistently guided our decisions in the spring and continue to do so now. Therefore, all students from our youngest preschool students through our adult transition students should be preparing for full-time remote learning. 

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  • Why is the District going to start the year with a remote learning model?

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    Public Health – Seattle & King County supports the decisions by school districts to begin the school year with remote learning, given the significant risk of transmission of COVID-19. Over the last seven days, King County averaged 171 new COVID-19 cases per day. This is more than four times higher than the new case rate at the beginning of June. 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. 

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  • What learning models are being developed to engage students and keep all stakeholders safe?

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    The District’s Learning Forward Reopening Schools Plan outlines four phases: Red, Orange, Yellow and Green. Each phase supports student learning regardless of how the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening the community. Our goal has been, and always will be, a safe and healthy return to in-person learning as soon as possible. Along with health and safety, we continue to prioritize the academic, social, and emotional experience of our students. Building on the lessons from this spring, we intend to deliver dynamic learning whether our students are learning remotely, learning in the classroom, or when we can safely offer a combination of the two. 

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  • What is a Red Learning Day?

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    Under the Red Learning Day Plan, all Mercer Island students attend school remotely, implementing a more robust program than was offered last spring. This plan will focus on daily synchronous instruction for students through Zoom which includes extended learning blocks with teachers. There is a commitment to a consistent learning management system for students with expectations and procedures clearly defined for users. Details about the systems and platforms that we will be using will be available in the coming weeks. Please see the links below to the draft Red Learning Day Plans.

    Elementary Red Learning Day

    Middle School Red Learning Day

    High School Red Learning Day

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  • What is an Orange Learning Day?

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    This Orange Day model is a blend of remote and in classroom learning. In this hybrid model, small cohorts of students attend in-person at school with health and safety precautions, including physical distancing requirements, while others continue learning remotely. One of the many difficulties of the Orange Day plans is how to simultaneously manage student learning both in person and remotely. We continue to work to resolve these challenges.

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  • What is a Yellow Learning Day?

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    All students attend in-person on a Yellow Learning Day with health and safety precautions in place. We hope that our youngest and most vulnerable learners will be able to start the year in a Yellow Day scenario. With the limitation of 16 students per classroom, the logistics of space, number of students enrolled, and staffing ratios take precedence. Safely returning all students and staff to the school buildings requires considerations for student and staff movement in the buildings including: hallways, restrooms, entryways, and lunchrooms. No large group gatherings would be allowed. Community access would be restricted.

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  • What is a Green Learning Day?

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    All students attend in-person with reduced precautions.

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  • How were these plans developed?

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    The District’s Learning Forward work groups, composed of staff and parents, meet regularly. The three most important teams, elementary, middle, and high school, are supported by other work groups which include: instructional technology, special services, assessment, professional learning, transportation, health and safety, finance, and food service. Our administrators leading these work groups meet weekly to share progress, discuss current challenges, and plan forward together.   

    In addition to our Learning Forward work groups, we have a district-level advisory charged with reviewing all plans prior to formal submission to the School Board. This group, the Future School Advisory will continue convening throughout the planning process.

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  • Will kindergarten and students with disabilities attend school in person to begin the year?

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    No, not under the current Red Day Learning Plan. 

    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. 

    IEP Teams will consider on an individual basis the need for in-person appointment based services for our youngest learners and those with significant disabilities.

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  • How will the decision be made around reopening school building to students?

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    The District will re-evaluate on a three-week cycle whether we are able to begin bringing students back to our campuses. Ongoing evaluation and consultation with local health authorities will guide our decision-making as we move through the phases. We do know that once we are able to bring students in larger groups back to our buildings that we will phase in their return starting with our youngest learners first. 

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  • What is the timeline for making these decisions?

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    All School Board meetings are open to the public.

    July 30: Community forum on school reopening plans, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
    https://mercerislandschools.zoom.us/j/99856769251?pwd=Y0hwVlhIY0g1RkdvQ0drM29Oa2lPdz09

    Aug. 6: School Board special meeting to review the draft school reopening plan, 5 p.m.

    Aug. 11: School Board linkage special meeting with the community to receive input on the draft reopening plan, 5 p.m.

    Aug. 13: School Board regular meeting to consider adoption of the reopening plan, 6 p.m.

    Aug. 19: The District is required to submit the adopted reopening plan to the state (OSPI).

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  • What safety procedures would be put into place for schools should in-person instruction be available

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    • District-wide face coverings provided for all staff and students (personal masks may be used)
    • District-wide personal hygiene protocols (hand washing or hand sanitizer)
    • Physical distancing requirements (6 feet spacing)
    • Personal Protective Equipment supplies
    • Plexiglass barriers 
    • Enhanced ventilation in each building
    • Daily health attestations by staff and parents for students that they are not experiencing symptoms.
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  • How will you enforce mask wearing? What happens to a student who won’t wear a mask?

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    The Washington Department of Health has stated that masks or face shields are required for students, staff, and any other visitors to the schools.  There are certain exceptions for those who are medically unable to wear a mask.  If a student refuses to wear a mask we will work with the student and family to educate about the requirement and the importance of face coverings in reducing the spread of the virus.  As a last resort we may have to exclude a student from school.  In that case we would ensure that the student has an opportunity to continue receiving their instruction remotely.

    Per OSPI’s Provision of Services with Disabilities during COVID-19 in Summer and Fall 2020 Q&A “students who are unable to consistently wear PPE or maintain physical distance due to sensory, behavioral or other disabilities must not be discipled or denied services as a result.

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  • How will you ensure six-foot distancing?

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    The guidelines from the state schools superintendent (OSPI) are to maintain 6-foot distance “as much as possible.” Desks will be spaced six feet apart and interactions closer than six feet will be limited. The guidelines state that passing briefly in a hallway, especially when everyone is wearing a mask, is low-risk.

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  • How will daily health screening be conducted?

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    The state schools superintendent has acknowledged that it is not practical to screen every student and staff member before entering the school building. We will depend on families to attest that their student does not have a fever or COVID symptoms.

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