Bring On Outdoor Learning - Seattle 2020-21 School Year

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The purpose of this petition is to amplify the voices of students and caregivers of Seattle Public Schools (SPS) students that support having some form of "outdoor school" to complement online learning in the 2020-2021 school year.  By signing, you are sending a message to the School Board that 100% online, screen-based instruction is not an acceptable strategy for meeting the educational needs of all students. You are encouraging the Board to formally incorporate "outdoor school" into the upcoming academic year, while also complying with 6-foot social distancing and mask-wearing requirements. A formal proposal written by School Board Members Brandon Hersey (District 7, SE Seattle), Liza Rankin (District 1 Northgate area), and Chandra Hampson (District 3, NE Seattle) will be brought before the full Seattle School Board and Superintendent on August 12th

Lending your signature to this petition means that you are saying to the Board:

(a) I support the further development and eventual adoption of the partial "outdoor school" concept by SPS, and;

(b) I endorses the Board's pursuit of "outdoor school" as a worthy and community-supported endeavor, and;

(c) I believe that in these unprecedented times, our educational system needs to be more innovative and effective than 100% online instruction. 

A few relevant excerpts from the 6-15 page proposal (all with cited references in original draft):

"Whereas, online classes aren’t as effective as in-person classes for most students and are, furthermore, inequitable as a) very little difference in learning for high-performing students in the online versus in-person settings. On the other hand, lower performing students performed meaningfully worse in online courses than in in-person courses” and b) high speed internet access remains problematic for thousands of SPS students"...

"Whereas outdoor education is demonstrated to have substantial benefits for student well-being and a systematic review of published research of regular compulsory school- and curriculum-based Outdoor Education Programs found that they promote students’ social, academic, physical and psychological development...

"Whereas, studies indicate without consistent in-person instruction, learning loss disproportionately impacts BIPOC students..."

Whereas, “the AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present” and “utilize outdoor spaces when possible” as highest priority for ALL age groups and necessary for activities such as singing, exercise, meals as “outdoor transmission of virus is known to be much lower than indoor transmission”.....

"Therefore, SPS will request that the City of Seattle, County and State support the district and Seattle Public Schools families by dedicating large swaths of public outdoor spaces for educational purposes during school hours to support achieving appropriate health guidelines while serving larger number of students with equitable access to natural areas and safe, in-person instruction, inclusive of students with disabilities".....

"Therefore, online instructional spaces in 2020-21 shall not be limited to geographic school catchment or building enrollment but shall be open to reimagination and reconfiguration as determined via direct family and community engagement. With specific foci on students furthest from educational justice Seattle Public Schools will seek to support family and community hubs whether geographic or virtual."

"Therefore, SPS will immediately partner with foundations, outdoor education providers, OSPI, State Legislature and providers of outdoor gear to ensure an effectively resourced launch of outdoor education in the City of Seattle for mid-Fall Semester 2020-21, including appropriate individual weather protection gear and clothing for students and teachers, and outdoor shelters"...

Link to draft proposal, with citations and references, forthcoming (stay tuned)