Return to Headlines

Update from Superintendent Dotson 3-26-21

March 26, 2021

Dear Tumwater Staff and Families,

On Thursday, March 25th, Governor Inslee announced that schools can move forward and transition to follow the CDC’s recently updated guidance revising the physical distancing requirement from 6’ to 3’ between students in most classrooms. While we welcome news that allows us a way to increase in-person instruction, the guidance is more complex than it initially appears. As we consider how to act on this new guidance, there are many remaining factors we must consider.

CDC Guidelines announced:

  • In classrooms, elementary students must be seated at least 3’ apart. In middle and high schools, they must be seated at least 3’ apart – or 6’ apart if the transmission rate increases above 200 cases/100,000 over 2 weeks and cohorting is not possible.
  • 6’ of distance is still required in the following settings:
    • Between adults, and between adults and students.
    • When masks cannot be worn (such as when eating). We are using all available space in cafeterias and expanding lunch times in schools to serve students in our current A/B schedule. To serve meals to twice as many students daily while maintaining 6’ of physical distance between students, we will need to creatively evaluate how we can find and furnish more spaces to use during meals.
    • When singing, shouting, in band, and during sports/exercise.
    • In common areas such as lobbies and auditoriums.

District leaders and administrators are meeting this afternoon to discuss the potential impacts the change of social distancing guidelines could have in our schools. Some challenges that we must consider have been identified. As principals process the impacts of the changes, we expect more consideration will be needed. Some of our next steps include:

  • Determining a process to screen more students daily
  • Creating a space/furniture plan for meals at 6’ spacing for more students daily
  • Furnishing classrooms per new distancing requirements
  • Ensuring adequate capacity in all rooms for more students
  • Addressing staffing needs
  • Reviewing agreements with employee associations

During his press conference, Governor Inslee also announced that schools should prepare to follow the 3-foot distancing guidance to provide in-person instruction for all students daily in the fall. We are looking forward to having our classrooms and schools full of students again, and want to make sure that we can do it safely for all of our staff and students. We will keep you updated as decisions are made and as more information is available.

Thank you for your continued partnership in your student’s education and success.


Sean Dotson, Superintendent