Back to the classroom: What Federal Way middle and high school students need to know

The Federal Way Public Schools district has clarified plans in preparing to bring middle and high school students back to classrooms next month.

Previously, the district announced plans in response to Gov. Jay Inslee’s new requirement for all Washington schools to offer at least two days of in-person instruction by April 19.

On March 24, FWPS offered clarification on the classroom return guidelines for middle and high school students for in-person instruction after their regularly scheduled remote Zoom classes.

Students will receive on-campus instruction about two hours per day for four days of the week by their existing teachers for all classes beginning April 19, except for Wednesdays, which remain an asynchronous learning day districtwide.

The in-person instruction option will be mixed in with students’ remote Zoom classes. At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Tammy Campbell outlined a sample schedule for the upcoming return.

If students choose hybrid learning, two in-person classes will be held from 7:50-10 a.m. with a travel and lunch-at-home break before remote Zoom classes for the remaining two periods are held in the afternoon. To decrease the separation of students from their regular teachers, students in remote learning will attend the in-person morning classes via Zoom.

The detailed specifics of returning to classrooms is contingent on the district’s abilities for transporation, reduction in class sizes to accommodate social distancing, and staffing, the district said.

Several parents have claimed this in-person instruction to be “study hall.” The district refuted this claim. by stating and showing that structured academic instruction will be provided.

A March 22 blog post by the Washington Policy Center notes several private schools within the Federal Way area have been fully open with in-person operations since fall 2020. The post alleges the FWPS district is defying the state’s orders by providing the mixture of remote and in-person learning.

Gov. Inslee’s emergency proclamation states all schools will be expected to provide an in-person learning option that is equal to at least 30% of instructional time. A spokesperson for the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) said they are continuing to answer questions and support the Federal Way district to achieve the governor’s requirements.

Families in middle and high schools around the FWPS district have until March 30 to choose to begin in-person instruction or remain in remote learning. The school district has sent surveys to families to make their final choice for the remainder of the school year.

The latest survey allows for parents to change their previous learning option choice if needed. If a response is not submitted, students will remain in remote learning for the remainder of the year.

The deadline for the surveys is noon Tuesday, March 30. For more information, visit

For other grades, the district in-person plans include:

• Grades 2-3 and special education students in grades 3-5 returning to classrooms Monday, March 29.

• Grades 4-5 returning to classrooms Thursday, April 1.

• Grades 6-12 offered in-person academic and emotional support time Monday, April 19.