Highline Public Schools staff and families reinvented school in a matter of days this spring. Buildings closed March 16 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Within two weeks, staff began distributing 14,000 digital devices and 1,200 internet hotspots at drive-through events across the district, raiding school Chromebook carts to get technology in the hands of students. Teachers and families, stuck at home in varied situations, did their best to navigate distance teaching and learning.
Superintendent Susan Enfield said, “Our teachers continue to teach our students from home, many while caring for their own children. I have never been prouder to work alongside our amazing Highline teachers and staff.”
Nutrition Services workers redeployed in production kitchens and at drive-through meal sites. They served more than 325,000 meals this spring and summer, with support from other district staff. More than 5,000 paper learning packets were handed out at the meal sites.
The district staffed two childcare sites at elementary schools for the children of first responders and other essential workers. School nurses, security and office staff, custodians, paraeducators, and principals volunteered to operate the childcare sites until handing off the childcare operation to community partners.
Teachers and school leaders invented new ways of doing school, using web-based learning platforms and Zoom office hours to assist students. High school librarians organized curbside novels-to-go events to support language arts teachers. Students took advanced placement tests from home. Seal of Biliteracy testing took to the parking lots. Coaches and P.E. teachers demonstrated workouts online. Paraeducators organized a mask-sewing project to outfit essential district staff working on-site. Teachers delivered school supplies, spliced together heartwarming school videos, and held parades past students’ homes.
The Class of 2020 celebrated graduation in unique drive-through style in their school parking lots, with cheering, signs, decorated vehicles, and livestream videos.
District staff spent the summer in virtual workgroups devising plans A, B and C for delivering instruction, to address the changing scenarios expected to evolve during the course of 2020-21. Facilities staff began deep cleaning schools, measuring classrooms for six-foot spacing, ordering touchless sanitizer stations, and installing plexi-glass dividers. Staff dove into the details of building a hybrid model: half the students in class Mondays and Tuesdays and the other half on Thursdays and Fridays—with cleaning in between—and distance learning on the other three days.
On July 22, Superintendent Enfield announced that Highline would start the year in distance learning to keep kids and staff safe, until infection rates decrease and local public health guidance supports a return to buildings in hybrid mode.
Stay up to date with 2020-21 plans on Highline’s website.