Due to the increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases in King and Snohomish counties, the Northshore School District (NSD) closed all schools for up two weeks as of March 5.
NSD closed Bothell High School (BHS) Feb. 27-28 due to a strong suspicion of a staff member’s contact with someone with the virus. Frank Love Elementary School was closed March 2 after a staff member developed flu-like symptoms and is being tested for the virus. Woodmoor Elementary School closed March 5 after a parent and volunteer tested presumptive positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus after having been diagnosed and hospitalized with a different illness in February.
All NSD schools were closed March 3 to provide training to staff to engage students in remote learning that may take place outside the four walls of their classrooms should it become necessary.
Well, it became necessary.
NSD Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid announced the district’s decision to close all 33 NSD schools for up to 14 days beginning March 5.
“Every step we’ve taken over the past couple of weeks has been taken only after thoughtful consideration and deep discussions with many who are invested in both the education and well-being of our children,” Reid said in a March 4 message to families. “I have also been working closely with our district leadership, school board, educators, labor groups, families, health departments, peer school districts and elected officials to plan for what the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] suggested may be a required change from our daily routines.”
Following school closures at BHS and Frank Love, Reid said 26 NSD schools have been affected via direct or indirect exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
“We are receiving numerous calls and emails from parents and staff who are self-quarantining or are choosing to keep their students home. Today, our absentee rate for students district wide was 20 percent,” Reid said in her message.
Education will continue via the Internet, Reid said.
“Our job is to provide quality instruction to our students in a safe and welcoming environment, and we are no longer able to provide quality instruction and maintain an environment that is safe for our staff and students to learn as we do not have sufficient staff to safely operate our schools. By transitioning from the classroom to the cloud, we are also giving medical/public health officials and the community time to get some critical answers regarding incubation period, level and length of contagious status, and fatality rates, as well as a communication strategy that includes all necessary partners,” Reid said. “We want to do our part to slow the spread of this coronavirus.”
After Tuesday’s training, Reid said the district is now prepared to transition from the classroom to the cloud.
“Our instructional staff have and will continue to develop their skills for providing instruction to our students within an online environment. The team worked with students today to make sure they are acquainted with the online platform(s) they will be using and that students are equipped with a device and Wi-Fi to engage in virtual learning,” she said March 4.
NSD students will officially start online learning on March 9.
The Northshore Learns webpage provides classroom to cloud information and instructions for students and parents/guardians.
All Northshore students have Gmail accounts. Students should check these accounts every day for messages from their teachers about the daily learning expectations. Educators will also communicate with students about how to share their learning.
The webpage offered a sample education schedule, which included times for activities ranging from waking up and getting ready for the day and video tutorials, to times for working on and turning in assignments and lunch and movement.
“Learning in the cloud is just as challenging and rigorous as a day of learning in the classroom. Teaching and learning just happens in a different place,” the Northshore Learns webpage states. “The more time your student spends learning virtually, the more you and your student will know about what works best in terms of keeping focused, on task, and engaged in meaningful academic endeavors.”
For students without computing devices and/or an Internet connection, families can submit a form to receive a device at form.jotform.com/200609371121039.
“I understand that transitioning from the classroom to the cloud will require computing devices for all of our students. If you are in this situation, I am asking you to complete this form and we will arrange to loan your student a computing device and if necessary an accompanying Internet hot spot,” Reid said in a message to families.
More information about online learning will be shared in the coming days.