Return to School

July 22, 2020
Update from Superintendent Dr. Scott McWilliams

The purpose of this message to staff and parents is to keep you informed on recent actions that will affect the upcoming 2020-21 school year. Before sharing those facts, I want to state that the Auburn-Washburn Board of Education and I have received numerous emails recently regarding thoughts on COVID-19, school safety, when to start school, and what type of learning environment to provide to students. Additionally, we received over 4,000 comments from parents and over 650 comments from staff through our recent Thoughtexchange. Thank you for being engaged and sharing your thoughts with us. Your voices are important, and they have been heard. As planning continues for the 2020-21 school year, our focus remains on 1) student and staff safety, and 2) providing effective learning opportunities for students.

There are two factual updates to share. First, Governor Kelly signed Executive Order 20-59, Requiring COVID-19 Mitigation Procedures in K-12 Schools, on July 20, 2020. In summary, the following mitigation procedures are required in schools at this time:

  • Students, staff, and visitors will be required to wear face coverings at school and school-related activities. Face coverings will be required on school buses as well.
  • During the school day, individuals shall maintain six feet of distance from other individuals with only infrequent or incidental moments of closer proximity. This requirement does not apply to in-person instruction in classrooms when masks or other face coverings are worn. In other words, when providing direct instruction or managing a classroom, a teacher may move closer than six feet of a student.
  • Students, staff, and visitors will have their temperatures checked before entering a school for the first time each day.

The intent of Executive Order 20-59 is to create and maintain the safest learning environment possible for students and staff. These safety precautions will be implemented as we start the 2020-21 school year based on currently known facts.

Second, Governor Kelly prepared Executive Order 20-58, Delaying the 2020-21 K-12 School Year until after Labor Day, that required approval from the State Board of Education. At the State Board of Education meeting held earlier today, they recorded 5 yes votes and 5 no votes. Executive Order 20-58 did not pass with a majority vote, so it will not be signed by the Governor.

On the approved 2020-21 Auburn-Washburn school calendar, our staff is scheduled to return August 6 and our students are scheduled to return for the first day of school on August 13. A review of that calendar will take place to determine if changes are needed to ensure we are prepared to implement the safety precautions listed in Executive Order 20-59 and ready to provide meaningful instruction to students in Phase 3 (on-site), Phase 2 (hybrid), or Phase 1 (remote). A decision on which Phase we will begin the 2020-21 school year will be made very soon, so all in our school community can plan accordingly.

Thank you again for being engaged and committed to our work in the Auburn-Washburn school community. We continue to navigate through uncharted times, but it is important that we stick together as we proceed.


Dr. Scott McWilliams
Superintendent of Schools