MSD 2020-21 School Year to Start with Distance Learning

MSD 2020-21 School Year to Start with Distance Learning

Dear Monroe School District Community,

As we continue to navigate returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have to keep the safety of our students, staff and the greater community at the top of mind. Our School Reopening Committee has been actively working through the details of developing a hybrid model of instructional delivery. At this moment, we are not confident that we can safely return to school in-person on a large scale.

After much deliberation and consultation with the Snohomish County Health District and collaboration with our labor unions, we are announcing that Monroe School District will start the 2020-21 school year with distance learning with the ultimate goal to have all students in our buildings as soon as it can be safely done. This was not an easy decision and was made after a thorough review of available reports, local models, and guidance from the Snohomish County Health Department.

Monroe families, I know you want to understand what distance learning will look like for the 2020-21 school year. We have reviewed survey responses from last week and the spring, we have had conversations with staff, student groups, parent groups, and in emails and phone calls. Here are some of the changes that are being made to MSD distance learning for the fall:

  • The use of Canvas as the sole districtwide Learning Management System (LMS)
  • Daily attendance and typical grading practices
  • Essential standards to be identified for each subject area and used to focus deep and lasting learning
  • A mix of synchronous (using Zoom for class discussions, read alouds, some instruction, and assessment) and asynchronous (at home and at times that work for you - examples: video-recorded reading and lessons, physical education, enrichment, etc.) learning working to meet the needs of students and families
  • We recognize that distance learning cannot fully meet the needs of some students and 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. The most recent Health Department guidance recognizes this need and recommends groups of no more than five meet at any given time. We will work through this recommendation and determine safe protocols for serving our students within this recommendation.

Our main focus over the next six weeks will be to further develop our systems, provide training for staff, and ensure that all students and families are connected to their school, their classroom, and their teacher to begin learning on the first day of school.

Another question I anticipate you may have is how and when we will have students return to in-person learning. We will continue to collaborate with Snohomish County Health District and Washington State Department of Health to help guide our next steps and decisions. Our goal is to continuously review the return to school benchmarks set by the Snohomish County Health District. We anticipate planning around a quarterly (11/13/20, 1/29/21 and 4/2/21) determination if school will continue as distance learning, move to a hybrid model or fully return to school in-person. We believe this provides a predictable timeframe for our families to coordinate their schedules and childcare while our system can prepare for the potential return to classrooms for our students.

There is much work to still be done and we will be updating our community frequently so please monitor your email and visit our district website. We know this presents hardships for many in our community and we hope that by announcing the move to fully distance learning for the start of the 2020-21 school year as soon as we possibly could, it will allow our families and staff time to plan for the fall.

I am incredibly proud of our MSD staff, leaders and community for the work they have done since March to learn more about best practices for distance and online learning. I am confident that the distance learning and teaching students will experience this fall will allow them to continue to learn and grow. The Monroe School District is committed to providing your child with a positive and meaningful school experience. We appreciate your patience as we move forward together.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

Dr. Justin Blasko

You can view Dr. Blasko's video message to the community here.