Snoqualmie Valley School District will be entirely online this fall

The school board approved the move amid rising numbers of coronavirus cases in King County.

When classes return to Snoqualmie Valley School District this fall, they will be entirely online, as the district joins its peers in Puget Sound.

The school board voted July 30 to approve recommendations from Superintendent Robert Manahan to resume school entirely online when classes begin Aug. 31. The decision is a reversal of a previously proposed plan that would have allowed for some hybrid in-class and online courses for certain grades.

The previously proposed plan was released on July 8, when the number of coronavirus cases in King County was lower.

“Things have changed,” Manahan said at the board meeting.

The board has concerns about the increasing number of cases. While the Snoqualmie Valley case rates remain relatively low, many school staff live outside of the valley, and many parents work in other cities. There would also likely be a shortage of staff and substitute teachers due to health concerns. Finally there are challenges related to monitoring and tracking and responding to a potential outbreak at a school.

A press release from the school district stated this is the “right decision at this time to ensure the safety of our students, staff and families.”

Snoqualmie Valley School District joins 35 other districts in Puget Sound in its decision to start school entirely remote.

A survey of district staff found that only half were comfortable working on-site, while 32 percent were not. Teachers will be able to access classrooms for additional tools and tech support.

The district will reassess its decision six weeks into the school year, and if conditions improve, will begin to work toward reopening in-classroom options by early November. This could take the form of in-class instruction or a hybrid model.

“While our strongest desire and goal is to welcome all Snoqualmie Valley students back for in-person teaching and learning, we will continue to monitor conditions and prepare for our eventual reopening, when it is safe to do so,” Manahan wrote in a statement.

During remote learning this fall, the district will be looking to help families with special education students who may have trouble using online courses. And for students who don’t speak English at home, they’ve added tools to assist with translations.

However, school nutrition programs are still a question mark. Manahan said in a release that the federal government hasn’t supported its own school lunch program like it did last spring, which let the school district offer free breakfast and lunches to all students. As a result, the plan for this fall will prioritize providing meal service to students who qualify for free or reduced price meals.

A complete reopening plan will be presented to the school board on Aug. 13 and submitted to the state for approval by Aug. 15.