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01/12/21 Principal School Messenger

Greetings Lafayette Community,

My name is Susan Follmer.  I am a retired principal who has had a very satisfying career in education.  I have been a teacher, counselor, district administrator, school board member and school administrator in many local districts, and the International School of Monagas in Maturin, Venezuela.  I retired from Washington Middle School in 2018 and have been enjoying the good life of traveling (pre-Covid), reading, pickleball and sending news articles to my three grown children (just like my mother did.)  As I love the work in schools and seeing systems function at peak capacity I said yes, to coming to Lafayette for the next month.  I have so much admiration for parents who have weathered this rugged terrain of virtual learning.  I know the burden on families has never been greater. The good news is there is an end in sight (see the reopening Q/A below).

An important Intent to Return In-Person survey from the district to families went out  and some of you have yet to complete it.  If that’s you, please take a few minutes and do this today.  If you did not receive this please contact and they will send it to you. District leadership is extending the Intent to Return In-Person survey in order to allow families more time to respond. The survey will now close on Wednesday, Jan. 13 at 12 p.m.

Creating a strong and regular communication loop is something I know we both want; to that end I will commit to a semi-monthly newsletter.  This first edition (this one) will be sent via School Messenger and also be posted on the website.  Kathy Johnson has also posted the January 2021 Newsletter on the website.  We will work to consolidate these into timely messages every other week. If you have a burning question or just want to say “Hi” please respond via email:

This letter addresses these topics: Reopening Q/A and District Questionnaire about Returning to School Q/A.  If you have questions on these topics don’t ask me (way too complicated for me) but please email:

I look forward to partnering with you in this challenging time. Please communicate any needs or concerns.  Education is a Together Endeavor.


Susan Gustafson Follmer

Acting Principal

Lafayette Elementary School

Seattle Public Schools

Lafayette Office: (206) 252-9500

Personal Cell: (206) 715-0550


Reopening Q/A

In-person Learning

Who will be my child’s teacher?

If your child’s teacher changes, the new teacher will be an educator from your child’s school.

Staffing consistency is a priority, but we are working to match the number of students who want to return in person with the number of staff who can return to teach in person.

Will after school programs or additional child care be offered?

We have dedicated child care at some school sites that will be maintained. We will work to bring back additional child care operations in our buildings. An increase will need to be evaluated on a case by case basis for each school building and provider.

We are working to balance space availability and ensure health and safety protocols can be met.

What are the start and end bell times?

We are working to keep bell times for in-person instruction aligned with start times for remote learning, but we have to assess the impacts for transportation. There may be some changes, based on in-person enrollment and transportation needs. As soon as we have information, we will share it with families.

What will drop-off/pick-up look like?

There are protocols for how drop-off/pick-up will take place to help guide staff and families on this process at school sites. Daily health screening, social distancing, and wearing face coverings are critical to this process.

Are vaccines required for students or staff?

Staff are not currently required to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The Washington Department of Health is creating the phased distribution plan. SPS leadership is advocating for educators, school leaders, and frontline school staff to be prioritized in the vaccination rollout.

There are currently two COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for emergency use in individuals 18 years and older and the Pfizer- BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for emergency use in individuals 16 years and older.

Are students required to wear masks?

Yes. All students must wear a cloth face covering or acceptable alternative at school. Specific exceptions may apply based on age, development, or disability.

Will people be required to isolate/quarantine after mid-winter break travel?

We encourage families to follow health guidelines and limit gatherings or travel.

We will follow the current guidance regarding travel by the Governor’s Office.

What if COVID-19 cases worsen?

Health professionals have provided research to support in-person learning for our youngest learners. The steps we are taking, including the use of small cohorts, will help mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 within our schools during in-person instruction. We will continue to work with our local public health care agency to guide decisions regarding in-person services for our students.

Will remote learning continue to be synchronous?

Yes, the remote instruction option will remain in the same format as it currently is, though in some instances a child’s teacher may change to another educator from your child’s school.

How many days a week will in-person instruction be provided?

We will provide the maximum in-person instructional time possible. The number of in person days is dependent on how many students and teachers return. We must meet a 1 to 15 teacher-student ratio, or less, in classrooms to adhere to health and safety guidelines.

How large will in-person classes be this spring?

  • Kindergarten and first grade classrooms will support up to a 1:15 teacher-student ratio.
  • Preschool will operate in small subgroups with a maximum group size of 6-10 students.
  • Special Education preschool programming will operate at a 1:4 teacher-student ratio.
  • Intensive Service Pathway classes (SEL, Moderate Intensive, Focus, Distinct, and Medically Fragile) will meet the cohort ratio of 1:15 or less.

Will classrooms of students interact during the school day?

All classroom cohorts will stay together throughout the day.

What will classrooms look like?

Schools and classrooms will look different than past years. Furniture from classrooms has been removed or rearranged to accommodate six feet between each student. We know comfort for our learners is a priority. While activities like circle time and a comfy reading corner aren’t possible during the pandemic, we are committed to making sure our classrooms remain joyful and engaging.

Will preschool through 12th grade students enrolled in Intensive Service Pathways be served at their school?

Yes. Preschool-12th grade students who are enrolled in an Intensive Service Pathway (SEL, Moderate Intensive, Focus, Distinct, and Medically Fragile) services will be served at their current school.

Will my child’s teacher change?

Students who return to in-person learning will remain enrolled in their current school, but their teacher may change. Students who remain in remote learning may also have a different teacher. Shifts in staffing will depend on how many families choose in-person and how many families select to remain remote for the 2020-21 school year. Staffing will also depend on the number of teaching staff who request remote working accommodations. We will prioritize staffing consistency as much as possible.

Where will lunch be eaten?

In order to reduce interaction between groups of students (classroom cohort), lunch will be eaten in the classroom.

What adjustments are being made to classrooms and buildings to support health and safety?

Classrooms across all elementary and K-8 schools are in the process of being re-designed so that all student desks are facing in the same direction and separated by a minimum of six feet between each desk. Ten feet in the front of the classroom is designated for the teacher.

  • Working with five architectural firms, SPS facilities has organized elementary and K-8 schools into “cohort zones” with separate entrances/exits and bathroom facilities to reduce physical interaction between different groups of students.
  • Plexiglass barriers have been installed in the school offices and in some specialized classrooms to support students who may not be able to wear a mask. Central office staff is working directly with school leaders to ensure traffic patterns, signage, cohort zones, and individual classroom designs all meet the needs of our unique school communities.

How will specialist/PCP classes be managed safely?

Specialist classes (i.e., art, music, physical education) structures are still being determined and will need to be discussed with the Seattle Education Association and the Principals’ Association of Seattle Schools. Students will remain in a classroom cohort of 1:15 all day.

How will recess be managed and structured?

Planning for recess is currently underway. Outdoor access and physical movement are important for learning. While we don’t yet have the details of how recess will be structured, students will be kept in their classroom cohort.

There are many more questions and answers on the website:


District Questionnaire about Returning to School Q/A

How long is the Intent to Return to In-Person decision good for?

The 2020-21 academic year.

Can I change my decision after March 1?

The decision a family makes by January 13 (read more about the return to in-person learning survey) will continue through the end of the 2020-21 school year.

Will there be an appeal process?

There will be an appeal process for families who have a change in circumstances after January 13. Criteria and a review process are under development. Information will be shared once complete.

What if I change my mind before March 1?

January 13 is the deadline so staff can begin to finalize logistics and schedules. If you have completed the survey but change your mind prior to January 13, please retake the survey before the closing date.

What if I don’t respond?

If we do not hear from your family, the default will be to continue in remote learning. Principals and other school staff will be reaching out to every family we do not receive a survey response from.

If my child has an IEP, are they automatically enrolled for in-person learning starting on March 1?

No. Families with students enrolled in an Intensive Service Pathways need to select the in-person model or remote model by completing the Intent to Return In-Person Survey. If no selection is made, the student will complete the year remotely.

Upcoming Dates:  See Website

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