A kindergarten student at Panther Lake Elementary raises her hand during attendance on the first day of in-person learning on March 15. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

A kindergarten student at Panther Lake Elementary raises her hand during attendance on the first day of in-person learning on March 15. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror

Federal Way students and staff return to full day in-person learning this fall

Daily health screenings will no longer be required for students, according to the district.

Federal Way Public Schools is gearing up to welcome students, staff and faculty back to fully in-person learning this September.

The first day of school for the 2021-2022 year is Wednesday, Sept. 1.

“Like the rest of the world, the last 17 months brought new challenges for each and every scholar, family, and staff member in our district, as we all felt the effects of the global pandemic,” said Whitney Chiang, chief of communications for Federal Way Public Schools. “As we prepare to return to in-person instruction, we’re focused on creating a safe and welcoming return to our school buildings.”

When students and staff return to full day in-person learning this fall, several precautions will remain in place, according to the district.

Masks are required to be worn by all students and staff members, regardless of their vaccination status, according to the district. If and when students or staff are outdoors, masks are not required, but are highly recommended for unvaccinated people in crowded spaces.

In addition, the district is planning to implement a 3-foot social distancing guideline in classrooms and lunchrooms. A guideline of 6-feet of social distancing will be used when possible in lunchrooms, common areas, lobbies, or other activities such as physical education classes.

The first three days of school are dedicated to rebuilding the sense of school community, and will be focused on allowing students to readjust to their school routines.

Daily health screenings will no longer be required for students, according to the district.

As of Aug. 16, the district has had 292 COVID-19 cases with no staff members in quarantine at the time of the announcement.

In March 2020, school districts across the state and nation quickly transitioned into remote learning. Face-to-face interactions came to a halt as classes were conducted via screens and over Zoom video conferencing.

Last spring, Federal Way schools eased back to in-person classes with several precautions — such as distanced desks, mandatory mask wearing, and alternating schedules to accommodate smaller class sizes throughout the day.

If a family prefers fully remote learning, the district will continue to offer its Internet Academy for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The fully online school was founded in 1996.

The Federal Way district is following recommendations provided by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the Washington State Department of Health.

Each school is hosting an informational Zoom session for parents 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26, and Monday, Aug. 30. Principals will share important back-to-school information, such as health and safety protocols and an overview of the first few days of school.


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