Tag Archives: Seattle Public Schools

Communication Key as South Seattle Schools Reporting Disproportionate COVID-19 Cases

by Ari Robin McKenna


With public school students back learning in-person for the second week during a delta variant surge, parents and guardians await crucial, timely information from their school or district in the event there are COVID-19 cases at their child’s school. Such information helps parents and guardians keep their kids safe and take precautions that impact collective safety. In South Seattle and southwest King County — where the majority of People of Color in the county live and where higher COVID-19 case rates have persisted throughout the pandemic — clear, transparent, effective communication becomes even more crucial. In these historically under-resourced communities, plenty of doubts remain about current communication during this delta stage of the pandemic.

When Seattle Public Schools (SPS) refreshed their COVID-19 dashboard on Monday evening for last school week, they reported 44 confirmed COVID-19 cases within their 104 schools and other educational sites. Ten of those cases were in the northwest and northeast districts, and 24 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the southwest and southeast districts. This is despite the total number of students actually being 2,984 higher in the north. Though this week-one data set is minuscule, it accedes to the norms of the bigger picture: Seattle-wide, parents and guardians anxiously sent their kids to school on the first day, and perhaps predictably, more than twice as many from the South End have gotten sick.

To put the disparate current infection rates in perspective, a glance at the current King County “Daily COVID-19 outbreak summary dashboard” geography stub on Sept. 8 shows all of the highest reporting areas to be in the southwest corner of the county map. Central Federal Way, SeaTac/Tukwila, and South Auburn have the county’s highest COVID-19 positive case rates per 100,000 residents at 11,224.4, 11,328.6, and 12,843.1 respectively. Meanwhile, by contrast, whiter north Seattle neighborhoods have some of the county’s lowest rates, such as Ballard, Fremont/Green Lake, and northeast Seattle, which are at 2,996.1, 2,958.3, and 3,693.8 respectively.

Continue reading Communication Key as South Seattle Schools Reporting Disproportionate COVID-19 Cases

Starting School as Strong as We Can: Advice and Thoughts From Educators

by Erin Okuno


Starting school in 2021 will be a different experience than 2020, when almost all the schools in the country were remote/distance learning. This week, Seattle Public School (SPS) students are returning to classrooms, some for the first time in over a year and a half. 

To help families and students prepare for the new school year, I asked educators to share advice and thoughts they want parents and caregivers to know as we head back to school with COVID-19 still prevalent. 

Continue reading Starting School as Strong as We Can: Advice and Thoughts From Educators

Emergence of Delta Variant Means a Back-to-School Like No Other

by Ari Robin McKenna


With the return to Seattle Public Schools (SPS) only days away and the COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12 years old still months away, there sits a cloud of uncertainty looming over the return to school — especially for unvaccinated students in grades K–6. Making matters more complicated, “trusting science” has become less straightforward as the delta variant has become predominant, yet less is known about this more contagious COVID-19 variant.

Continue reading Emergence of Delta Variant Means a Back-to-School Like No Other

Citing Under-Enrollment, SPS Outsources Grade 6–12 Virtual Learning for 2021–2022

by Ari Robin McKenna


Last week, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) announced to parents via their newsletter that the Virtual Option Pilot Program (VOPP) would be limited to kindergarten through fifth grade. Sixth to 12th graders who want virtual learning options will be given a list of suggested external virtual programs. This walked back a June 17 announcement that the VOPP would be K–12 and drew immediate criticism from the Seattle Education Association (SEA).

In a recent conversation with the Emerald, Dr. Concie Pedroza, SPS associate superintendent, cited low enrollment numbers for the K–12 pilot, the complexity of middle and high school course offerings, and resulting staffing challenges as primary factors in the district’s decision.

In an SPS student survey conducted late last school year and filled out by about half of all middle and high schoolers, 6% of the high schoolers and 7% of middle schoolers indicated they would like to continue with fully remote learning in the future.

Continue reading Citing Under-Enrollment, SPS Outsources Grade 6–12 Virtual Learning for 2021–2022

City Expected Encampment on School District Property After Sweeping Nearby Park

by Erica C. Barnett

(This article previously appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement)


During an often rowdy public forum in the cafeteria of Broadview-Thomson K-8 school last week, Seattle Public Schools Deputy Director Rob Gannon said the school district is working slowly toward a plan for moving more than 50 unsheltered people off school district-owned property behind the North Seattle school. The City of Seattle has refused to assist the school district in sheltering or housing people living on the property, and the district has turned to a small nonprofit called Anything Helps with the goal of getting everyone off the site by September.

Continue reading City Expected Encampment on School District Property After Sweeping Nearby Park

My Child of Color Is ‘Highly Capable.’ Now What? — Part 3

by Jasmine M. Pulido

In this final article of a three-part series, Jasmine M. Pulido explores the future of programs for students designated highly capable in Seattle Public Schools.


The Future of Highly Capable Cohort: From HCC to HCS

Highly capable services are deemed part of basic education by state law, but the cohort is not. Starting in the 2022–2023 school year, the district’s Advanced Learning Department will begin a six-year plan to phase out the cohort model while gradually phasing in a new model. The recently amended changes to School Board Policy 2190, “Highly Capable Services and Advanced Learning Programs,” convert this accelerated curriculum cohort model (HCC) into an inclusive and accessible service model (Highly Capable Services or HCS) to meet the needs of students at their neighborhood school. In other words, SPS will no longer focus on searching for and separating “gifted students” from the general student population and will, instead, focus on having flexible services available to all students. HCS will still include an accelerated curriculum but can also include services like enriched learning opportunities, classroom pullouts for advanced content on a specific subject, and cluster groups depending on what best meets the individual student’s needs. In short, Highly Capable Cohort as a self-contained setting for advanced students will be completely dismantled and phased out.

Timeline depicting the possible elementary implementation, where the Highly Capable Cohort program would be dismantled and phased out. Sourced from Seattle Public Schools.
Continue reading My Child of Color Is ‘Highly Capable.’ Now What? — Part 3

My Child of Color Is ‘Highly Capable.’ Now What? — Part 2

by Jasmine M. Pulido

In this second of a three-part series, Jasmine M. Pulido explores how Seattle Public School District’s Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) program works.


The HCC designation puts children on a track, or “HC pathway,” starting as early as kindergarten. In elementary school, HC-eligible children can either stay at their neighborhood school or move to an HC Pathway School. There are two types of HC Pathway Schools: self-contained schools, entirely dedicated to the HCC program, or self-contained classrooms offering advanced content within a general education program.

School-wide cohorts disappear, but self-contained classrooms with accelerated content are still available in HC Pathway middle schools. In high school, the term HCC no longer applies and advanced classes, like Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes, become available to anyone interested in taking them. Azure Savage, however, explains HC students are more likely, more academically prepared, and more encouraged to take AP/IB classes. Reby Parsley, board director of the Washington Association for the Talented and Gifted (WAETAG) and a gifted program specialist, also saw this in the research on gifted education. “What we’re finding is that when you provide students opportunity for access to those types of services at an early age, that’s when it has the most impact,” she said.

Continue reading My Child of Color Is ‘Highly Capable.’ Now What? — Part 2

My Child of Color Is ‘Highly Capable.’ Now What? — Part 1

by Jasmine M. Pulido

In this first of a three-part series, Jasmine M. Pulido explores Seattle Public School District’s programs for children designated as gifted.


As of May 10, 2021, my 8-year-old daughter became eligible for the Highly Capable Cohort (HCC). This feels unsettling considering that a week prior an article by Seattle’s NAACP Youth Council came out demanding dismantling of the program citing it as racist, segregated, and grossly inequitable.

They’re not the only ones. In 2019 former Garfield High School student Azure Savage, in their book, You Failed Us: Students of Color Talk Seattle Schools, called out the Seattle Public School District (SPS) for its racist practices, including preferential treatment by teachers, racially segregated classrooms, and discipline practices disproportionately applied based on race. Savage goes into great detail to break down their personal experiences from elementary through high school in HCC, interspersing their narrative with quotes from other SPS students of color. Nationwide, the debate about programs like HCC has been under intense criticism, especially in the last couple years, for the exact reasons Savage and the NAACP Youth Council have so clearly outlined in their writing.

As a former student of this same national program, portions of Savage’s text like, “When I look around the classroom and see that I’m the only student of color there, it’s common for me to not try as hard because the possibility of succeeding seems slim,” reminded me of what it was like to be the only student of color in my “seminar” classes. At almost 40 years old, I’m still trying to internally dismantle the ways achieving has been tied to my self-worth.

Continue reading My Child of Color Is ‘Highly Capable.’ Now What? — Part 1

NEWS GLEAMS: Library Branches Open, Summer of Learning, ESES Marketplace, and More!

curated by Emerald Staff

A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle! 


Source: Seattle Public Library website.

Seattle Public Library Summer of Learning + Branches Reopen

This week, The Seattle Public Library (SPL) reopened the doors of the Central Library, as well as several branches so crucial to people in the South End: the Columbia Branch in Columbia City, the International District/Chinatown Branch, and the South Park Branch. All of these libraries reopened this week, allowing patrons once again to browse the shelves, use Wi-Fi, place holds, speak with librarians, or sit and read the latest newspapers and magazines. In addition, the library system has revised opening-hour procedures and will no longer close for a cleaning/sanitization break mid-day. You can find all library hours online at SPL.org. Library patrons must still practice physical distancing and wear masks at all SPL branches.

Continue reading NEWS GLEAMS: Library Branches Open, Summer of Learning, ESES Marketplace, and More!

Free Lunches for Youth All Summer Long at Schools and Community Centers

by Ben Adlin


At locations across South Seattle and much of the rest of the state this summer, schools and community groups will provide free lunches for young people regardless of their ability to pay. Some sites will offer lunches on all weekdays, while others will have seven-day meal packs available for pickup on a weekly basis.

Lunches will be available to anyone 18 and under, whether or not they’re enrolled at that school. Parents and guardians may also pick up meals on behalf of their children.

The service is part of an expanded federal program that typically provides lunches only in areas where more than half of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. During the pandemic, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) opened eligibility to all areas.

“USDA has said anybody can operate a summer site. You don’t have to qualify with this 50% or more needy children,” said Leanne Eko, director of child nutrition services at the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), which oversees the program in the state. 

Continue reading Free Lunches for Youth All Summer Long at Schools and Community Centers