SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Public Schools will be opening the 2020-21 school year with a distance learning model.

SPS says the decision came with guidance from public health experts. Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz issued a message to public school superintendents and private school administrators Monday recommending they begin the school year in remote/continuous learning for all students.

"We are creating detailed plans to prepare for multiple scenarios and smooth transitions, depending on whether schools buildings are open or closed," SPS said.

SPS' Real-Time Distance Learning involves a significantly-revised plan for all K-12 students to learn from home with a schedule emulating a normal in-person instruction day virtually with teacher-guided instructions, meetings, breaks and more. 

  • Real-time school day with teacher(s)
  • Identified school start and dismissal time
  • Specific times scheduled for each period/subject
  • Blend of live instruction, group work, and independent activities
  • Specialist & elective experiences included
  • Set times for intervention support and contacting teachers
  • Use of Microsoft Teams as the district-wide digital platform
  • Laptop check-out for all students
  • Limited in person instruction provided for small groups of students

"We will make every effort to support all our students and families as we work together to have a safe and successful school year," SPS said. "We are eager to return to in-person learning in classrooms when health officials tell us it is safe to do so. We are prepared for smooth transitions between at-home and in-person learning."

Under the plan, SPS will provide a continuum for special education services to meet individual needs for students and families, prioritizing in-person services when safe to do so.

SPS plans to work with community partners and its district express program to offer childcare options for families impacted by this decision.

Laptop computers will be checked out to every SPS student for use during the school year. Wireless internet access is available for students and staff in the parking lots of several schools.

"We know this news will be met with mixed emotions," SPS said. "These are unprecedented times and we will make every effort to support all our students and families as we work together to have a safe and successful school year."

SPS also provided a sample schedule of a prospective day at the elementary level:

  • 8:00 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.: Teacher Readiness Time
  • 8:30 a.m. - 8:50 a.m.: Real Time Class Meeting: Social-Emotional Learning
  • 8:50 a.m. - 9:50 a.m.: Real Time Instruction Block 1
  • 9:50 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.: Real Time Instruction Block 2
  • 10:50 a.m. - 11:50 a.m.: Real Time Instruction Block 3
  • 11:50 a.m. - 12:50 p.m.: Lunch
  • 12:50 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.: Real Time Meeting/Collaboration
  • 1:50 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.: Personalized Learning Blcok
  • 2:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.: Student and Parent Access Time
  • 3:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.: Teacher Readiness Time

A full list of sample schedules can be found HERE.