As Pullman Public Schools plans for the start of the 2020-21 school year, we are committed to keeping our families, staff, students, and community members informed. While there are still many uncertainties regarding what the upcoming school year will look like, we are hard at work to ensure our students continue to have access to a high-quality educational experience.
This web page serves as a hub for updates related to the reopening of our schools. Here, you will find information on potential school schedule changes, cleaning protocols in our buildings, health and safety measures, meal service procedures, and how we plan to provide students with access to technology. It will also include information on athletics and activities, along with answers to frequently asked questions.
The situation surrounding COVID-19 is evolving with time. We will regularly update this page as our plans continue to take shape. We encourage you to keep checking back for the latest information.
Catch up on the latest news related to reopening schools! The full video of the July 22 Zoom conversation with Superintendent Maxwell can be viewed on YouTube.
10 Ways to Prepare for Returning to School
Updates from Pullman Public Schools
Greetings! I know families are anxiously awaiting definite plans for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has communicated an expectation that schools will reopen for “traditional” in-person learning experiences, while following physical distancing protocols as much as possible along with other health and safety practices. Due to this expectation, our school district has been challenged to develop a school reopening plan with a focus on the safety and health of our students and staff. Our planning teams, which include many stakeholders - parents, staff, students, and community health professionals - have spent numerous hours this summer developing models to meet the reopening needs of our community. Meeting minutes and documents from reopening committees can be found on the Reopening Schools Task Force page.
Currently, there are still many challenges related to reopening with a “traditional” in-person learning experience. Due to these challenges, our reopening committee stakeholders have developed two reopening models, described below, providing options for our students and their families.
Model 1: Hybrid In-Person/Distance Learning
A hybrid model is available to families wanting their child(ren) to return to school in-person. This model will include a mix of in-person and distance learning.
Hybrid: In-Person/Distance Learning
• 4.5 days in-person
• 0.5 days distance learning
• 2 days / week in-person
• 3 days / week distance learning
Model 2: Distance Learning 2.0
A model for families wanting their child(ren) to continue distance learning (online and/or instructional packets) at home. The structure and content of Distance Learning 2.0 will be new and improved from the spring experience, since we’ve been given time to plan for this type of learning experience. This will include a combination of synchronous live and asynchronous recorded learning experiences depending on grade level and/or content area.
In the event that circumstances require us to provide only distance learning, all students will participate in Distance Learning 2.0.
Schools will be reaching out to families within the next week or so to identify your family’s model plan for returning to school in the fall. This information will be needed to further structure our reopening.
The models above reflect Pullman Public Schools current plans to reopen. We will continue to keep families informed as we continue to finalize reopening plans consistent with state and local health guidance. As conditions change, planning will continue to evolve. Our goal is to have information to families with finalized schedules mid-August.
We are aware this pandemic has had significant impacts on our students, staff, families and community. It is also creating daily opportunities for new learning and different ways of thinking. Please know that we are committed to your child(ren), you and our community to deliver the best education possible regardless of these challenges.
Bob Maxwell, Superintendent
Pullman Public Schools
July 30, 2020:
It remains possible that some or all of our other athletic seasons may be further restricted, shortened or moved to another season. This will depend largely on decisions made by OSPI and WIAA. These decisions are also subject to change during the season depending on the status of COVID-19 in our state and region.
The WIAA will be deciding what the middle school sports seasons will look like for Lincoln Middle School and the rest of Washington State Middle Schools in the next couple of weeks. There will be more information provided when the WIAA decision is announced.
Based on feedback from families, we are also exploring offering the option for some families to elect to have their student participate in 100% online learning for all or part of the 2020-2021 school year.
We hope to have a decision made about a hybrid in-person and online learning student schedules soon, and will provide more information to families as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience!
We have established a “Reopening Schools” tab on our web page, at www.PullmanSchools.org where you can find updates related to the reopening of our schools. This website will have the most current information about school schedule changes, cleaning protocols in our buildings, health and safety measures, information on activities and athletics, and meal service procedures. There are also answers to frequently asked questions. I encourage you to keep checking our website for the latest information.
There are many moving pieces to these plans and we will need to adapt as the situation surrounding COVID-19 evolves and we receive further guidance from the Whitman County Health Department, OSPI, and the Governor’s office.
The first day of school is scheduled for August 26. In the meantime, I hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer!
Reopening Schools Task Force
The purpose of the Reopening Schools Task Force is to provide guidance and review recommendations from the Reopening Schools subcommittees for finalizing a plan to safely reopen schools in the fall of 2020 in accordance with guidelines provided by the state superintendent's office.
Timeline: Subcommittees are asked to submit recommendations to the Task Force by August 1.
Frequently Asked Questions: P-12 Education
Will students be able to attend in-person classes this fall?
July 16: At this time, we believe we will be able to welcome students and staff back into our buildings for in-person learning at the start of the school year. Specific information will be shared once a schedule is finalized. However, we will adjust our school schedules to accommodate physical distancing, avoid large groups of students gathering in certain areas and ensure we are able to properly clean and disinfect our facilities.
While we may be able to begin the school year with all or most students attending school in person full time, we may also use a hybrid model in which students attend school on certain days of the week and engage in online learning the rest of the time.
We will continue to update our school district community on how teaching and learning will look as we get closer to the first day of school, which is August 26, 2020
The WIAA will be deciding what the middle school sports seasons will look like for Lincoln Middle School and the rest of Washington State Middle Schools in the next couple of weeks. There will be more information provided when the WIAA decision is announced.
What are the district’s plans for transitioning back to remote learning if schools need to be closed again in the future?
July 16: We plan to offer athletics and extracurricular activities in the fall semester, in accordance with guidelines from OSPI and WIAA. Activities, practices and schedules will be modified to ensure students remain physically distanced and can maintain proper hygiene. Each activity will look a little different, and coaches and advisors will be able to provide you and your students with more information.
It remains possible that some or all of our athletic seasons may be further restricted, shortened or moved to another season. This will depend largely on decisions made by OSPI and WIAA. These decisions are also subject to change during the season depending on the status of COVID-19 in our state and region.
We will provide more information on exactly what this process will look like as we get closer to the start of the school year.
Will my student be able to participate in Choir/Band/Orchestra?
July 16: At this time, we are waiting for additional information about this from the Department of Health and OSPI.
Will Preschool students meet in person or online (or both)?
July 28: We are planning to serve preschool students in person with social distancing and health and safety precautions.
If a student must quarantine, how will they participate in learning and how might their grades be impacted?
July 28: Teachers will help families by providing information about what was missed in-person. Students will be able to participate in online instruction as usual while quarantining from home. We will make every effort to make sure students’ grades are not negatively impacted by the need to quarantine.
At LMS, can students stay in one classroom, with a cohort, and teachers rotate amongst the classrooms?
July 28: We will work hard to reduce movement and interactions. Having teachers move classrooms may not be feasible because students typically have different schedules based on classes they are taking.
Will kindergartners and their families be able to see classrooms and meet teachers prior to the first day of school?
July 28: We are working on a safe plan to make this happen.
Will elementary school open houses be held?
July 28: Elementary schools will most likely have virtual open houses, we are still working on specifics.
What will LMS and PHS registration days (Spartan Start-Up and Greyhound Gear-Up) look like?
July 28: These events will be held online, we are working on details and will share with families soon.
Will kindergarten look different?
July 28: There will be seating charts and student interactions in the classroom will look different, but our kindergarten teachers are working hard to create a great educational experience for our kindergarten students.
What will special education services look like?
July 28: We will provide some in-person instruction, as possible, for qualifying students. Will follow safety guidelines.
If my children are participating in part-time distance learning will it be possible to line up their schedules to the same days?
July 28: We are working to coordinate schedules based on last name so that families can have aligning schedules for their students. We will keep siblings on the same schedule.
How will online learning look different/improve from the spring online learning?
July 28: We are making improvements to our online learning plan, thanks to feedback from families and staff. This will apply to our online-only instruction option, and our hybrid-learning. Moving forward, our goal is to include more live instruction, small group support, and fewer learning platforms. In addition, school teams will collaborate with families to address the individual needs of students, specifically those who qualify for special education and English language learner services.
When will parents be provided with information with what the online-only learning option will look like?
July 28: We plan to have more information to families by August 1.
When will parents need to make a decision about which instructional model their student/s will participate in?
July 28: We do not have a deadline set for this yet – more information will be provided to families soon.
Will classroom observations be allowed?
July 28: Only essential individuals will be allowed in the schools – no visitors, parents or volunteers without an appointment and health screening. Online observations will be based on our current policy and procedures.
How do the teachers and district plan on addressing or helping the children that don't have support from family at home?
July 28: We will work hard to have extra supports in place, with staff placing extra focus on support and communication with these families.
Will students be provided with technology if they must do online learning or elect to participate in online-only learning?
July 28: Yes, all students will be provided with Chromebooks this year, and internet hotspots will be provided to families as needed.
What date will the school district have a finalized plan for reopening schools?
July 28: Hope to have finalized and shared with parents by August 12.
Will schools offer tutoring with WSU students before or after school?
July 28: We are not currently planning to have tutoring before or after school due to health & safety guidelines.
Can students participate in Running Start?
July 28: Yes, qualifying students can still participate in Running Start.
If a student is doing Running Start, will that work with the proposed PHS schedule?
July 28: Will be dependent on the PHS and WSU schedule.
For online learning, will students have the opportunity to interact with their teacher and peers?
July 28: Yes, we are working on schedules.
How will the PSAT be handled this year, if we move to online learning?
July 28: We are still waiting on definitive information related to PSAT and SAT testing.
Will senior projects be required for the class of 2021?
July 28: They are currently a requirement for the class of 2021 – has been renamed “Capstone Project”.
How will we determine if/when schools need to transition to online only?
July 28: This will be based on direction from the Whitman County Health Department, Governor’s Office, or OSPI.
If we start the school year online (or if a student is participating in online-only learning in the fall) how will they get to know their teacher and classmates?
July 28: We are working on plans for possible in-person visits. If not possible, we will have a virtual meeting.
If a student starts the year doing homeschool or online-only instruction, can they be re-enrolled for in-person instruction at any point during the school year?
July 28: They may re-enroll after six weeks.
I am not yet comfortable sending my child to school. Can I have them continue with remote learning only this school year?
July 28: Yes. Although we expect to welcome our students back into our buildings, we will also offer a remote-only learning option for families who do not yet feel comfortable having their students return to school. We anticipate having capacity limits on this option and will provide more details soon.
How do I notify the district that I would like my student/s to participate in online-only learning this fall? Note: this is an option to families – the default will be in-person instruction.
July 28: Stay tuned for more information about this option and how to sign up.
Will student teachers and practicum students from WSU be in the schools?
July 28: On a very limited basis. Student teachers and practicum students will probably be assisting more in virtual environments instead of in-person.
Frequently Asked Questions: Health & Safety
July 16: Parents of students exhibiting COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms, as well as staff exhibiting COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms, are asked to contact the Whitman County Health Department at 509-332-6752. Any individual experiencing these symptoms should not come to school. Students experiencing COVID-19 symptoms will be sent home.
How will the district clean buildings, rooms and surfaces to ensure a safe learning environment?
July 16: The district will implement enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols to help keep students, staff and families safe while COVID-19 remains with us. Our custodial staff will significantly increase the wiping down and disinfecting of public spaces and high-touch surfaces throughout the school day. We will also provide greater access to cleaning materials for our teachers and staff so that they can clean and disinfect spaces, as needed.
Will students have specific handwashing guidelines?
July 16: Yes, students and staff will follow the established handwashing hygiene protocols established by the Department of Health.
How will the district ensure physical distancing takes place in school buildings?
July 28: While maintaining physical distancing will be a challenge, we are implementing a number of measures to ensure students remain at least six feet apart for as much of the school day as possible. Seating charts are required for health purposes and contact tracing. Students will be seated and working with an assigned, consistent group of students to help with contact tracing. Those students will still be required to maintain social distancing.
How will daily health screening be conducted?
July 28: Families/students will complete an attestation online that their student does not have a fever or COVID symptoms. The specific screening and attestation process is still being finalized.
Any student or staff members with COVID-19 symptoms or who has come in direct contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 will need to stay home.
How will contact tracing work if there is a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case in a school?
July 28: The Whitman County Health Department will manage contact tracing and recommendations related to quarantining.
If a teacher must quarantine and the class will still be held in-person, the role will be filled by a substitute. This will be on a case-by-case basis.
If there is a confirmed case in a school, who will be asked to quarantine?
July 28: This will be a Whitman County Department of Health decision.
How will schools enforce mask wearing?
July 28: The Washington Department of Health has stated that masks are required for students, staff, and any other visitors to the schools. There are certain exceptions for those who are medically unable to wear a mask. If a student refuses to wear a mask we will work with the student and family to educate about the requirement and the importance of face coverings in reducing the spread of the virus. As a last resort we may have to exclude a student from school. In that case we would ensure that the student has an opportunity to continue receiving their instruction remotely.
How will schools enforce social distancing?
July 28: The guidelines from the state schools superintendent (OSPI) are to maintain 6-foot distance “as much as possible.” Desks will be spaced six feet apart and interactions closer than six feet will be limited. The guidelines state that passing briefly in a hallway, especially when everyone is wearing a mask, is low-risk.
Will remote mental health support be available to students?
July 28: We are working to come up with ways to support our students’ mental health remotely.
Will masks be provided for students and staff?
July 28: Masks will be provided to staff. Students are asked to bring two masks to school: one for wearing at school and one for transit to and from school. We will have extra masks on hand for students that need them.
Will teachers be allowed to do rug area teaching?
July 28: Only an option If students can remain 6 feet apart and sit in the same location every time.
Will students be able to use math manipulatives if they have a set of their own in their desks?
July 28: Yes, that would be in alignment with our health and safety guidelines.
What is the process to deal with students that communicate a difficulty with breathing due to wearing masks all day?
July 28: There are some medical exemptions to wearing a mask. Those students would need to wear a face shield.
Will you be transparent in communicating if there's a positive case or outbreak in the district?
July 28: We will communicate as possible with respect to student and staff privacy. Contact tracing by the Whitman County Health Department will determine who must quarantine.
Will safety and cleaning equipment be available by the 1st day of classes?
July 28: We are still planning to start on August 26. Our Personal Protective Equipment should arrive before then!
Will we have to start online if Governor’s orders of ten or less gathering size remains?
July 28: We have been told we can still start school as planned, even with the current gathering size limits. This is subject to change.
Frequently Asked Questions: Daily Operations
July 16: Students and staff will be following social distancing protocols established by the Department of Health.
Will students still have recess? What will it look like?
July 16: Students will still have recess. It will be in cohorts by class and grade levels following social distancing protocols established by the Department of Health.
What will lunch and breakfast look like?
July 16: Students will be in cohorts by class and grade levels following social distancing protocols established by the Department of Health. Specific food service distribution protocols are still being developed in consultation with the Department of Health.
How many students will be in each class/classroom?
July 28: The number of students in each class/classroom will be dependent on the number of desks that fit in the classroom while maintaining strict distance guidelines. At elementary schools, we can safely fit between 16-20 students in a classroom.
What will the safety guidelines be for transportation?
July 28: We will have safety guidelines in place for transportation including: restructured routes to shorten length of drive, and to have fewer students on the bus, and open windows for increased ventilation. Masks will be required for all riders and drivers. Students will be required to social distance while waiting for the bus. In addition, we will encourage families to transport their student or have students walk/bike as possible.
Are libraries and other large school spaces being used as classrooms to allow distancing?
July 28: Will be utilized if needed.
Frequently Asked Questions - Staff
If an employee has accommodations to work at home due to being in a documented high-risk category, will they still be allowed to coach extracurricular activities?
No, if they are not able to work in-person at the building, they will not be allowed to coach extracurricular activities with students.
Can an employee come into school the first two weeks of school to set up their classroom, but then go online to teach?
No, if you are starting with in-person teaching, we will need you in the classroom to teach the in-person students.
Family and Student Survey Responses
On May 29th, we asked families and students to share their thoughts regarding the March-June school closure and distance learning. Thank you to the many individuals that participated! The feedback is invaluable to our Reopening School Task Force as we plan for fall of 2020. (Survey closed on June 8)
On June 29th, we asked families to share feedback about the specifics of reopening Pullman Public Schools. Thank you to the many individuals that participated! This feedback is being carefully reviewed by the Reopening Schools Task Force as we plan for fall of 2020. (Survey closed on July 3)
Guidance and Updates From State (OSPI, State Board of Education, and WIAA)
The Washington State Board of Education met on July 8-9. They discussed a number of matters, with the summary below reflecting the discussion items that will or might impact Pullman Public Schools.
Rules regarding instructional hours and days: The board adopted rules to ensure that distance learning time counts toward the total instructional hours and days required under the program of basic education. Language added to Chapter 180-16 WAC:
“For the 2020-2021 school year, “instructional hours” as defined in RCW 28A.150.205 are not limited to in-person educational services. Local education agencies may count as instructional hours towards the minimum district-wide annual average those hours of educational activity planned by and under the direction of school district staff that are delivered through learning modalities which may include but are not limited to distance learning, hybrid classrooms, rotating schedules, or other methods that allow for delivery of basic education services during the COVID-19 epidemic. The following are applicable to the 2020-2021 school year:
(a) Nothing in this section supersedes applicable statutory or Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction funding allocation requirements; and,
(b) Days in which instructional hours are offered shall count as school days for the purpose of meeting the minimum 180- day school year requirement;
(c)Local Education Agencies must implement a system consistent with OSPI attendance rules; and,
(d) The State Board of Education will revisit this rule no later than its regularly scheduled July 2021 board meeting.”
Proposed permanent rules regarding high school graduation requirements: The Board adopted proposed permanent rules to clarify that districts have flexibility to award credit based on demonstration of mastery or competency, that districts may offer courses that meet more than one subject area graduation requirement, and to increase flexibility for districts to waive Washington state history for students impacted by school closures or other disruptions due to COVID-19 or other emergencies.
Full text of WAC 180-51
All meeting materials and the Zoom recordings of this meeting are posted on the SBE website.
Update from Chris Reykdal, Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Chris Reykdal, OSPI Superintendent, will host an informational webinar for school districts every two weeks the remainder of the summer. Below are some important notes from Chris Reykdal’s June 30th webinar:
Comments from Chris Reykdal: Schools are receiving a lot of feedback about the requirement that all students and staff wear face masks when schools reopen this fall. This requirement is a directive from Washington State Labor and Industries (L and I) and the Washington State Department of Health (DOH); this is not an OSPI decision and this isn’t optional for school districts. Reykdal noted that wearing masks is an essential component for opening the economy!
In schools, students and staff will be required to honor 6 feet social distancing and wear masks to help protect the health of individuals in our schools – these two preventative measures should be used in combination, it’s not an option for districts to utilize just one or the other.
Reykdal emphasized that we want schools to open because of the higher risks associated with keeping students out of school, socially, mentally, health-wise etc. Taking these safety measures is important to get students back in schools which is the best place for them!
OSPI continues to work closely with DOH and L and I regarding health guidelines – if any guidelines change OSPI will share with districts.
OSPI is working with legislators to make sure districts get the funding they need to operate schools in 2020-2021, in light of changing enrollment and expenses.
In order to receive funding from the state, schools will be required to closely track student attendance and engagement, even when students are working online/remotely.
The State Board of Education (SBE) is considering updating several rules that impact school operations, in light of COVID changes:
SBE is also considering 2 potential legislative requests:
SBE hoping to expedite these decisions so districts would have notice as soon as possible for upcoming school year.
SBE will meet on July 8 and 9. Their meeting materials, including drafts of the proposed rules will be posted online at https://sbe.wa.gov/meetings#meeting-2431
If you have any feedback for SBE, send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Learning Management Systems (LMS)
OSPI is launching a system to allow districts to consider their options for LMS. Schoology, Google Classroom, SeeSaw, Microsoft Teams, and Canvas are the 5 that OSPI will partner with and assist with professional development and support. In the coming weeks, Districts can go “shopping” and learn about each of these systems and determine what will be the best fit/s for each district.
Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA): No word yet on whether OPMA will be extended beyond July 1st. Board can still conduct virtual meetings but there must be a physical location that visitors can attend.
Question: Will OSPI waive PE minutes requirements for next year? OSPI is considering giving additional options/flexibility to districts regarding PE requirements for 2020-2021.
Question: Are there any answers related to choir and band? OSPI is still working on guidance for choir and band, related to masks and social distancing.
In March 2020, due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Governor Inslee closed Washington's K–12 schools from providing traditional, in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019–20 school year.
In May 2020, OSPI convened a stakeholder workgroup to inform recommendations and guidance for school districts as they plan for the reopening of Washington's schools in the 2020–21 school year. The broad workgroup consists of more than 100 educators, education leaders, elected officials, community-based organizations, parents, students, and community members.
The group is expected to conclude their work in June 2020.