When Highline Public Schools starts its academic year on September 9, the district will implement an engaging distance learning model that Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield and her team developed over the summer.

Based on the case rates of COVID-19 in the area, the district made the decision to offer only distance learning until November. Enfield reached this conclusion in collaboration with other districts in the region of Washington. She and her fellow superintendents felt they had to announce the decision early enough that families and staff could plan their professional and personal lives, so they actually made the call before the state Department of Education had sent its metrics to guide whether schools could open in person or not. When the guidelines arrived from the state Department of Health, they confirmed that the district had made the right call.

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Here’s how Enfield’s collaborations with her district’s families, teachers, and principals—as well as fellow superintendents from around the country—informed an engaging distance learning model designed to not only support student learning, but also strengthen and maintain the personal relationships that are essential to their growth as people.

Lessons learned from family and student feedback

Highline is a truly diverse district. Its 18,000 pre-K–12 students speak 100 different languages, and 10,000 of them have a first language other than English. Some 13,000 students qualify for free and reduced lunch, and the district serves 3,000 special education students. As Enfield said, “Our Highline Promise is to know every student by name, strength, and need so they graduate for the future they choose.”

About the Author:

Gerard Dawson is an English and journalism teacher at Hightstown (NJ) High School, the author of Hacking Literacy: 5 Ways to Turn Any Classroom into a Culture of Readers, and a contributor to The Best Lesson Series: Literature. Follow him on Twitter: @GerardDawson3.


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