Two Renton School District students doing in-home learning, outside last spring. Courtesy photo/ Renton Schools Facebook page.

Two Renton School District students doing in-home learning, outside last spring. Courtesy photo/ Renton Schools Facebook page.

Renton School District will start fall with in-home learning

Increasing cases in young people and guidance from public health officials has been the primary cause in the change from a hybrid learning model.

Renton School District announced Wednesday that it is now planning for full time remote-learning at the start of the 2020-21 school year, which begins Sept. 2.

Originally the district had hoped for a plan that included a combination of virtual and in-person teaching. But after recent discussions with health experts, Renton, along with neighboring school districts in King County like Seattle Public Schools, Bellevue School District and Kent School District, have decided to start the year with in-home learning only.

“On Tuesday afternoon, I met with officials from Public Health – Seattle & King County. During our meeting, they shared that they cannot imagine a way to open schools without the risk of significant transmission of COVID-19 based on the current trajectory of infections in King County,” Superintendent Damien Pattenaude stated in a letter on the decision.

The letter acknowledged the challenge that remote learning has placed on some families and that the district will be taking steps to improve remote learning. In a survey of 1,500 families after spring’s remote learning, 61 percent of families said they had necessary technology for in-home learning, and 52 percent said the amount of classwork was right, with the remaining 48 saying it was more or less than needed.

Technology supports include wifi hotspots for families in need and Chromebooks for all students from sixth grade to 12th grade, as well as Chromebooks for any students in other grades that need it. More information on the technology distribution is meant to be announced in August, according to the district.

The district will also improve in-home learning plans to have more live instruction, small group support and fewer platforms for students to juggle. Schools also hope to collaborate for family-specific needs, including special education and English language learner services.

More information is available at the district’s website here.

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