Issaquah Superintendent announces fully remote start to fall classes

The recommendation will be presented at the school board meeting Thursday

Issaquah School District

Issaquah School District

Following many similar announcements from neighboring districts, Issaquah schools will begin the year 100% remote.

The recommendation from Superintendent Ron Thiele was published Tuesday, July 28, citing the increase of COVID-19 cases, evolving information, and the regional decisions from other educational institutions to start fall online-only.

More information will be released in the coming weeks and the district develops details of their plans. Theile stated he will also explain more of his rational at the 6 p.m., Thursday, July 30 school board meeting, and the school board will share their decision, which the public can watch on Zoom.

Issaquah School District recently completed a survey for parents and staff on it’s original alternatives for the fall that included a combination of in-person and remote learning, the amount of in-person class time depending on grade and maintaining distance.

Thiele acknowledged in the recommendation the inequities that can exist with fully remote learning, and said they will improve communication and distance learning based off feedback from the springtime.

The full recommendation is available below:

Over the last several weeks we have been actively engaged in developing school reopening and reimagining plans for the 2020-21 school year. I have previously written about this process and again want to express my sincere gratitude to the ISD staff, parents and students who have participated in this important planning work. We have also conducted a number of surveys for parents and staff. I appreciate all of you who participated in these surveys providing valuable information to our planning teams. The Board and I have also received numerous emails from families and staff sharing their thoughts and concerns related to the safe operations of our school system. We all want to see our students in-person and believe that live in-person instruction is preferred, but only if it can be done in a manner that keeps everyone healthy and safe.

As our work continued in this very dynamic pandemic environment we began to watch the virus infection numbers increase. Starting around July 20, Public Health Officials from King, Pierce and Snohomish counties began to share their concerns related to bringing students back into our school buildings and supported remote learning, given the current rate of infection and the increase in daily positive cases of COVID-19. During this same timeframe the Governor announced a rollback on some social interactions while emphasizing the need for expanded and routine use of face coverings. As a result of this evolving information most of the public school districts and higher education institutions in our region have announced plans to start the school year with remote teaching. It is with this backdrop that I am announcing today that I am recommending to the Issaquah School Board that we start the 2020-21 school year in a fully remote setting.

Please know that the ISD School Board, ISD staff and I are all very aware that some students and families will be more negatively impacted by this decision. The challenge ahead for us is to determine ways to better communicate with and support these students and their families. We also know that this new era of distance learning must be significantly improved from the crisis-driven remote learning we were so abruptly forced into this past spring. Teaching and Learning Services has already begun the work to improve our ISD Distance Learning experience for students and families in the fall. We are building off the information we learned during our ThoughtExchange engagement last spring and all of the comments we heard from parents, students and teachers in order to improve our approach to distance learning.

Please stay tuned in the coming days and weeks as we develop and share more details about what students and families can expect once school starts this September. ISD administrators will be negotiating with our labor groups, as we creatively problem solve issues and determine their role in the delivery of the District’s educational mission in this digital learning environment. I invite you to join the School Board Meeting on Thursday, July 30, at 6 p.m. on Zoom to listen to the discussion, listen to the greater detail of my rationale, and hear the Board’s decision regarding my recommendation. Our sole focus over the next several weeks will be to strive to create a distance learning system that better serves the needs of all ISD students; communicate how to connect to your school, to your classroom and student peers; and be ready to offer meaningful learning experiences come September.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@issaquahreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.issaquahreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

File photo
Snow Lake, located near Snoqualmie Pass in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
Washington releases new forest plan

It outlines ways the state will protect and maintain forest health.

Sage Viniconis is a career performing artist in King County who’s been out of work and seeking creative outlets during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy photo/Sage Viniconis
Puget Sound artists adapt creativity, and business sense, to pandemic

Artists Sunday is an online directory that connects artists across the county, state and nation.

Chris Fagan trekking across Antarctica in 2014. Contributed by Chris Fagan
South Pole or Bust

The story of a North Bend couple who trekked across Antarctica.

King County Council has nine members who each represent a district. Courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County Council passes $12.59 billion biennial budget

King County Council on Nov. 17 passed a $12.59 billion biennial budget… Continue reading

State Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) authored the letter to Gov. Jay Inslee. Mullet represents the 5th Legislative District. File photo
Democratic lawmakers ask Inslee to lift ban on indoor dining

They want to try to scaling back on occupancy before forcing an end to inside service.

Tim Eyman get in some last minute campaigning for I-976 in downtown Bellevue on the afternoon of Nov. 5, 2019. File photo
Eyman fights allegation he repeatedly broke campaign laws

In a lawsuit, the state accuses the prolific initiative promoter of getting kickbacks.

Kabal Gill, owner of East India Grill in Federal Way, wears gloves to hand over take-out orders at his restaurant. File photo
State halts indoor service at bars, restaurants, home guests

Amid soaring new coronavirus cases and an overburdened health care system, the state’s clamping down.

Aaron Kunkler/staff photoAlvin Sweet is a resident of Martin Court in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. Martin Court is a former motel which was transformed into a supportive housing complex two decades ago. New funding from King County’s Health through Housing ordinance could expand this type of program across the county.
King County wants to buy motels for emergency, affordable housing

The concept has proven results in addressing homelessness.

The 5th Legislative District includes Snoqualmie, North Bend, Issaquah, Renton and Maple Valley. Courtesy image
5th District candidates talk policing, the economy and mental health

The SnoValley Chamber of Commerce held a candidates forum on Oct. 22.

Courtesy photo
State demanded more drop boxes, and now it must pay for them

A King County judge says a law requiring more ballot boxes was an illegal unfunded mandate.

King County 2020 unemployment numbers. Source: Washington State Employment Security Department
Boeing, coronavirus likely to impact King County economy

Unemployment remained high in September.

File photo
State Supreme Court strikes down $30 car-tab initiative

Justices unanimously agreed that voter-approved Initiative 976 is unconstitutional.