This week we announced our plans to bring elementary students and more students with special needs back into school buildings, beginning March 1. Why now and why March 1? Superintendent Susan Enfield answers those questions.
You can also check out our 2021 Learning page to explore safety measures, instructional models and recordings of our January 14 family webinar.
[MUSIC PLAYING] Hello, Highline. This week we announced our plans to bring our pre-K through fifth grade students and more of our students with special needs back into our school buildings on March 1st. Now, I know that many people are asking, why now and why March 1st?
So why are we planning to bring students back into buildings right now? Well, first and foremost, we know that our students need and want to be in school. That is where they learn best, and we know that they are missing their friends, they are missing that in-person contact with their teachers and their peers. And the state guidance that was revised just in December, based on what we know today about the coronavirus, says that we can bring back our youngest learners and our students with special needs so long as we have really good safety measures in place.
And we do have very good safety measures in place here. Small numbers of students in classes, mandatory mask wearing, cleaning and air filtration-- all of that is in place. And we know that it's working because, actually, for the past few weeks-- actually, a couple of months, we have had some of our students in our ILC programs back in schools for in-person instruction and support, and it's been going so well. Our students are happy, our staff are happy, and the safety protocols that we have in place are working. So we know we can do this.
So, then, why March 1st? Well, as you would imagine, this plan is incredibly complicated because we aren't going to say that all students in elementary school have to come back. We want to give parents the option. Some families will choose to keep their children in full-time distance learning, while others will choose to send them into school for a half day four days a week. It's going to take us time to make sure that we can transport and get our students back and forth and organize the day and make sure that everyone is prepared. So we need that time to make sure that our March 1st launch goes well, which I'm confident that it will because this team is working so incredibly hard.
Now I'll leave you with this. Our plan is not perfect. In fact, I would say that it will leave many of you unhappy and frustrated, and for that, I apologize. But the reality is we are working within so many constraints and with so many competing interests-- those who want to return, those who don't, all of the safety measures and investments that we have to make to make this work. The plan we have is the best plan that we could come up with right now, and we so strongly believe that it's important to begin returning our students to school as safely and quickly as we can that we've decided to move forward.
We will continue to hear from you, we will continue to share information, and we will continue to learn as we go. But I want you to know that our staff's safety, our children's safety is paramount, and we will continue to keep that front and center while making sure that we begin returning students back to where they belong in their schools here in Highline. Thank you, everybody.