In the March 26 edition of the Federal Way Mirror, there was a letter by Brian Adams of Federal Way titled “Thoughts on FW Schools.”
I have worked at the Federal Way Public Schools since 1997 as a subsititute para-educator at a majority of the schools in the district and was one of the first recipients of the annual Heroes awards program established by the Superintendent Dr. Tammy Campbell.
In his letter, Adams stated “yet for over a year now my kids are still sitting in their rooms alone all day as part of a phoney remote education program by Federal Way Public Schools. There is currently no science, logic or common sense that justifies not having our K-12 students back in school. They should have returned several months ago.”
This statement is incorrect and misleading. In March 2020, our country was hit by a serious worldwide pandemic called COVID-19, which has killed 549,000 people in a year. Common sense would dictate that is not realistic to put children at risk by having in-class schooling under such an environment. We have a national public health agency in our country to deal with such crises called the Centers for Disease Control or CDC. It is staffed by some of the most knowledgeable and qualified medical personnel in our country. Their mission is to give out guidance to the states on how to stay safe and protect their residents during the pandemic based on the science they know about this disease. This is what our state and the Federal Way Public Schools have followed, so their remote education program is anything but “phoney.” Given the guidelines/restrictions from the CDC and Washington state, the superintendent and school board came up with the best program to continue the remote education of their students while they were safe at home.
After the vaccination program was ramped up by President Joe Biden, the CDC came up with an operational strategy for K-12 schools through phased prevention, which includes the wearing of masks and three feet of social distancing. The governor gave his guidance, but the programs for school districts can be different. Some school districts have full classroom teaching (like before the pandemic) while others (like Federal Way) have gone to a “hybrid model.”
For Federal Way Public Schools, K-1 and some special education classes returned on March 5. Grades 2 and 3 returned March 29. Grades 4 and 5 returned on April 1, and middle/high schools return on April 19 with two days of in-class learning and three days of remote learning. Students and school staff must be checked daily, must wear masks and must be socially distanced (changed from six feet to three feet).
My sincere hope is that, if the vaccinations continue/increase from the current rate (3 million-plus shots per day), we can reach “herd immunity” by the end of this summer and that next school year (starting in September), the schools will back to the same program that was in place prior to COVID-19.