Fife Public Schools

A Message from Superintendent Alfano

October 27, 2020

Dear Fife Public Schools Families and Staff,

Last evening at our regular board meeting, our board of directors and I discussed the latest Pierce County health data and trends we have been seeing over the past month. In reviewing that data and using the Washington State Health Department’s Decision Tree for opening up schools, we have determined that our transition to hybrid/in-person learning will not begin until after the New Year in January.

Our hopeful, best case scenario to begin the transition to hybrid/in-person learning for our youngest learners is the week of January 4, 2021. This would be for Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders. Grades 4-5 would follow a week later, grades 6-7 would follow another week later, and finally grades 8-12 would return to school in a hybrid model the week of February 1, 2021 - which is the start of second semester for our secondary students.

Let me be very clear, however. The above timeline is not a guarantee. The health data needs to improve dramatically before we begin our transition to hybrid learning. The most recent data for case counts per 100,000 suggests we are not close to returning to school yet. In fact, the Pierce County Health Department will likely reduce the number of students meeting in-person in small groups across the county to five or less by the end of this week. This is very similar to the position we were in back in early August when the determination was made we were required to start the school year in remote learning.

I say all of this to emphasize, we are working hard on the logistics to make sure that everyone is safe when students and staff return to some form of in-person learning. We understand the difficulty this places on families across the district. We are also committed to continual improvement of our remote learning model we are calling Continuous Learning 2.0.

A few weeks ago we started to serve our highest need students with IEPs in groups of three or smaller. We will continue to serve these students and plan to broaden the groups to serve more students furthest away from educational justice in the coming weeks. These groups will continue to be very small - three or less students - and we will strictly abide by all safety measures of social distancing and PPE protocols. Teachers within these programs will work with our administrative staff at the schools and district office to prioritize students and coordinate the logistics around their return for some in-person learning. This work will commence now and continue until winter break in December. At that point in time, we will have a better idea of the reality of our timeline outlined above and adjust our planning accordingly, if needed.

I know this is not the news we wanted to hear, but we are committed to following the data and providing the model of instruction that supports the Washington State Health Department’s Decision Tree. Safety of students and staff has been, and will continue to be, our number one priority.

On behalf of our board of directors, I thank you for your continued support and patience as we navigate these unpredictable and unprecedented times.

Be well,

Kevin Alfano - Superintendent