As local coronavirus cases spike, the upcoming school year for Federal Way Public Schools may be 100% fully remote, the district announced last Friday.
Superintendent Dr. Tammy Campbell had previously shared plans of a possible hybrid schooling model with students, families and staff. The hybrid model, created from input of families and parents in a June survey, outlined the possibility of two in-person instruction days and three remote learning days when the school year commenced in September.
Because of the continued rise in COVID-19 infections in the region, FWPS is preparing for the possibility of 100% fully remote learning at the start of the school year, Campbell said in a July 17 newsletter.
Previously, the option for fully distanced learning was not available because the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (OSPI) guidance encouraged districts around the state to prioritize serving students with as much face-to-face time with their educators and peers in schools.
Many educators and parents raised concerns over returning to classrooms in the fall, even with the added safety measures such as mask usage and physical distancing arrangements.
The decision to consider fully remote learning is also prompted by a July 15 Washington State Department of Health report, which said school reopenings with no countermeasures may lead to double the amount of COVID-19 cases in the first three months.
While meeting with local leaders in Federal Way to discuss the state’s pandemic response on July 17, Gov. Jay Inslee said virus cases are spiking in the South King County area.
Campbell emphasized the district will continue to monitor and make adjustments as the guidelines for OSPI and the Department of Health are updated.
While transitioning an entire school district poses challenges, the district already has a blueprint model to work with.
FWPS was the first district in Washington to offer a 100% online public school through Internet Academy (iA). Internet Academy, founded in 1996, allows students in kindergarten through 12th grade to complete their high school diploma through a fully online learning environment.
More than 900 students enrolled in iA in 2020 to participate in the school’s 270-plus courses.
To help meet remote learning needs of students, a former MLB player created a fundraiser through Chip-in in hopes of raising $3 million to purchase 5,000 laptops for Federal Way students.
So far, the Chip-in fundraiser has collected $21,000 of a $3 million goal. Donations are open until July 22 at pilot.chip-in.co/pot/1