• School Reopening Fall 2020


    School Board approves SBLSD’s 2020-21 Reopening Plan; students begin school year 100% distance learning

    At the Aug. 12 School Board meeting, the Board approved Sumner-Bonney Lake School District’s 2020-21 Reopening Plan, which starts the school year in a 100% distance learning format for all students, and moves, in stages, toward hybrid and in-person learning.*

    More than 250 people tuned in to the virtual meeting featuring detailed information about the reopening plan, called Staged for Success. One pivotal item of note is the newly-released directive from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department requiring all schools to begin the year in a distance learning format. 

    “I have full confidence the District has provided the best scenario with the limitations that the department of health has now mandated in Pierce County,” said School Board President Deb Norris. “It is important to recognize the commitment to the health, safety and well being of our students, their families, our staff and the community while offering the best educational format under these circumstances.”

    The presentation to the School Board included:

    • New Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department directive, issued by Dr. Chen Aug. 11, requiring all Pierce County schools — public and private — to begin the school year using distance learning
    • Comprehensive, 40-page guide that serves as a roadmap for logistics as the District moves among stages and learning formats throughout the school year
    • Review of the six stages and associated standards under the Staged for Success plan for advancement that goes from 100% distance learning (Stages 1-2) to Hybrid Learning (Stages 3-5) to 100% In-Person Learning (Stage 6)
    • Health requirements: Physical distancing, face coverings, meals, cleaning, screenings, symptoms protocols
    • Education requirements: School days/hours, attendance, learning standards, grading, distance/hybrid learning schedules
    • Technology: Google Classroom, chromebooks, internet access
    • Professional learning, student support, special services, family/community engagement, childcare and financial impact 

    School Board action, Aug. 12:

    • Adopted Resolution No. 28/19-20 Sumner-Bonney Lake School District’s Reopening Plan
    • Approved Sumner-Bonney Lake School District’s Reopening Plan

    “This plan shows that we are relentless in fine tuning and adjusting to make sure that it works for families, and still provides and delivers a quality, exceptional education,” said Superintendent Laurie Dent. “Our core mission is student learning, and that will never change.”

    * Per Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the plan’s exception allows schools to provide limited, in-person instruction to students who need additional intensive learning support, such as students with special needs and an Individualized Education Plan. 





    School Board to take action on Reopening Plan Aug. 12

    The public is invited to virtually attend the next School Board meeting — Aug. 12 at 6 p.m.  — when the Board will hear a second presentation and take action on the 2020 SBLSD Reopening Plan.

    To submit comments, fill out this online form or call (253) 891-6080 by 5 p.m. on Aug. 12. 

    Here’s the link and passcode to join the virtual School Board meeting:

    Passcode: 798130




    School Board Study Session: View Recording & Presentation

    About 500 people joined the July 30 School Board Study Session to learn about the District’s new six-staged approach to gradually resume in-person instruction, and details about our greatly-improved Distance Learning 3.0 model.

    Under eight guiding principles, ranging from health and safety requirements to offering as much face-to-face instruction as possible, the presentation to the School Board highlighted:

    • Details for each of the six stages
    • Outline of distance learning improvements
    • Weekly schedules for elementary and secondary in distance learning format
    • Professional learning for staff and training for families/childcare providers

    View the recording of the Study Session (password: C65ib&qN)

    View the presentation

    The School Board will vitually meet next at 6 p.m. on Aug. 12 and Aug. 19. The public has the opportunity to submit comments online or by phone (253-891-6080) 5 p.m. the day of each meeting. 





    School Reopening Plan Details: July 30 School Board Study Session

    SBLSD Families,

    As our beautiful weather continues, I hope you continue to enjoy it! 

    Last week, in sharing the news that all students will begin the school year in a distance learning format, I promised to follow up with additional information.

    Staff has been working diligently to create a new approach to reopening in the fall while maintaining our top priority — the health and safety of students, families and staff. 

    This new approach holds true to our ultimate goal of getting students back in school — face-to-face — as soon as safely possible. While we’re starting the school year in a distance learning format, we’re hopeful we can gradually add face-to-face and hybrid formats in stages. I very much recognize the burden that distance learning can place on many of our families and I will do whatever is safely possible, in time, to provide other learning options. 

    I invite you to learn more about our new approach, called Staged for Success, during a virtual School Board Study Session on July 30 at 4 p.m. The two-part presentation will include critical details on our Fall Reopening Plan and the newly-enhanced Distance Learning 3.0 model. Here’s what you’ll learn in this presentation to the School Board: 

    • Staged for Success: Six-staged approach where students start the year in 100% distance learning and, over time, resume school in 100% face-to-face instruction. These six stages will be determined by the impacts of a changing health situation, available resources, and direction from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), our governor and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. 
    • Distance Learning 3.0: Distance learning will be greatly improved from last year. We took the input from students, staff and families seriously and designed a robust distance learning plan that incorporates best practice and your feedback. To help families learn more about the plan for Distance Learning 3.0, staff will present details on the structure, breadth and depth of our newly-improved and enhanced distance learning model. 

    If you’re unable to make the 4 p.m. July 30 School Board Study Session, we’ll post a recording of the meeting and the presentation slides online. And please know that the District will offer even more information, including webinars, to make sure you’re fully informed on our Fall Reopening Plan. 

    Laurie Dent, Ph.D.




    Schools Begin Year in Remote Learning Format

    Dear Families:

    I hope this message finds you and your children enjoying the summer outside in the warm weather. As I’ve promised previously, whenever the District receives new information or guidance that could impact the operations of our schools in the fall, we would communicate this to you as quickly as possible. We realize that any changes could have a significant impact on all of us, especially families with school-age children and youth. This is the purpose of my message to you today.

    In addition to the Governor’s announcements about changes in regulations to reopening our State’s businesses, today - the Director of Health for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department issued a message to Pierce County Superintendents, “Based on the COVID‐19 disease activity in Pierce County and our region, I do not feel it is safe to open schools in  September for traditional classroom learning.” Dr. Chen expressed his concerns regarding the current state of COViD-19 rates of transmission, increasing hospitalizations and the potential impact that new surges of this virus could have upon everyone in school facilities, should our buildings reopen in early September. 

    The news was much more serious than we anticipated: the Director believes that the reopening of school facilities and large groups of students within classrooms will accelerate the spread of COViD-19 and have potentially devastating impacts on our region.

    Based on his recommendation, we knew that our plans to reopen schools in Sumner and Bonney Lake – plans which were guided by the input of thousands of parents who participated in our surveys and online town hall meetings – would have to change.  

    It is for this reason that I need you to know I will be working immediately with the members of our Sumner-Bonney Lake School Board, as well as members of our Cabinet, to readjust our reopening plan by having students start their year in a remote learning setting.  While I can’t promise, I can remain hopeful that there will be opportunities to offer some students face-to-face assistance during this time. 

    At my core – I am an educator, a teacher, who delights in nothing more than seeing your child in their classroom, diving into group projects and excitedly telling their teacher what they’ve just discovered.  For that reason, I tell you that this announcement came with mixed emotion.  The delight of seeing our amazing staff and inspired students engaging in learning has to always be balanced in my steadfast commitment to you to ensure their physical and emotional safety, health and well-being. Your child’s health, and the health of our staff, must be the top priority in all that we do.

    I know that many of you are deeply concerned about how to manage distance learning, childcare, and specially designed services that your children may be receiving in our schools. Others are dealing also with the financial impacts and job losses that this pandemic has brought to our region. Know that your voices, needs and suggestions are all resonating with us as we quickly make decisions about how to proceed. We realize that a child’s safety encompasses not only their academic program – but the sense of belonging, community and other benefits they receive from their peers and our dedicated staff. 

    We have always wanted your child to feel like their school is a second home, and we are committed that our educational programs will have that same goal. Our District will also continue work with OSPI and the Department of Health, as well as our community partners, to determine what we can do to continue the delivery of free meals, as well as exploring enhanced childcare options for families needing this support. Additionally our Family Center, which helps parents and our community find help to meet basic needs, will remain open each week day. 

    We have heard your concerns – and they are our priorities to address as we develop new plans. 

    We promise that you will hear more information from us next week with further details. For now, we’ve provided answers to some of the questions you may have regarding starting school remotely.

    Thank you for trusting us with the privilege of supporting your child’s education. It is a charge we never take lightly. 


    Laurie Dent, Ph.D.

    Sumner-Bonney Lake School District 


    Remote Learning FAQs

    In what ways is remote learning “new and improved?”
    We listened to our families and have been learning from the experts on how to provide a higher level of online learning. Here are just some of the changes to the remote learning model that families can expect to experience this fall: 

    • Clear expectations and instructions for students
    • Enhanced online materials (with no need to print)
    • More engaging activities
    • Better accountability system for students to get work done
    • Consistent and reliable schedule with all assignments for the week ahead sent on a specific day
    • Scheduled Zoom sessions with the teacher, as well as video lessons
    • All classes will use Google Classroom, our District’s learning management system
    • Provide parents/guardians with Google Classroom weekly reports to monitor assignments, due dates and missing work
    • Address social-emotional needs of students who are isolated from teachers and friends
    • Technology training opportunities for families

    Are teachers receiving training in order to teach in the distance learning model?
    Teachers will receive mandatory training in August that includes best practices for teaching in a distance learning format as well as specific training on how to use the district’s digital platforms such as Zoom, Google Classroom, and Screencastify.

    Will families receive training on how to use Google Classroom or other technology tools?
    The district is planning to provide a variety of training sessions for families before school starts.

    Will my child be receiving instruction from his/her teacher on a daily basis?  What will that look like for elementary students?
    Yes. There will be a zoom session with the classroom teacher each day at a designated time that will include some social connection with students as well as a content focus for the day. The content focus will be Language arts and/or Math.  These daily zooms will be a combination of new learning, class discussion of concepts for the week, enrichment and support for new learning. 

    There will also be a designated time each day to provide small group intervention for those who need support accessing grade level content .  This will be determined based on data collected from assessments, teacher observations, parent communication.

    What supports will be provided if my student is struggling?
    All teachers will hold office hours to communicate with parents and students regarding any concerns or struggles they may have.  

    • Elementary: There will  be a designated time each day to provide small group intervention for those who need support accessing grade level content .  This will be determined based on data collected from assessments, teacher observations, parent communication
    • Secondary: Content teachers will provide additional support for struggling students during Zoom office hours as well as during required Zoom sessions. Support for students will come through direct communication with their content teachers.






    School in 2020-21 will be different as we continue to deliver instruction for each student while addressing student, staff and community health and safety during COVID-19. Our planning for the upcoming school year is being informed by guidelines from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and other agencies.

    We are moving forward in selecting a reopening model, within state guidelines, that best meets the needs of our students, staff and families. Planning continues to be a collaborative effort among our Reopening Committee, labor partners, and representatives from our schools and parent associations. As family feedback is a critical part of our planning process, we provided two opportunities for input through an online survey and virtual town hall.

    Whichever teaching and learning format becomes our reality due to this extended and unfortunate circumstance, we’re committed to making sure every student receives a quality, continuous education with as much face-to-face time with their educators and peers in schools as much as possible with safety a priority.

    Please know that clear and transparent decision-making is a priority for us, and we'll provide regular updates to make sure you have the latest information.

    Focused on Equity

    As we plan for the reopening of our schools, here are our key commitments focused on equity:

    • Ensure equity and access for each and every student
    • Center on the needs of our most marginalized and vulnerable students
    • Enlist family, student and educator voice in the planning process
    • Use learning from COVID-19 as an opportunity to break inequities

    State Superintendent Reykdal Video Message (June 20)

    State Superintendent Chris Reykdal addresses four key questions that are driving a lot of conversation statewide. This includes clarification that it's "very unlikely and almost impossible" that school districts are able to safely bring back every student for face-to-face instruction at the same time.