We are teaching the first trimester online, through November 19, 2020. If conditions significantly change before then and it is safe to shift to our hybrid model, where cohorts of students will come to campus in rotations by division, we will do so. We are off to a great start and look forward to the creative and innovative ways our students will learn this trimester.


To determine our decisions about how to proceed with the 2020-21 school year, we are guided by the four principles outlined in the Strategic Framework: Teaching Excellence, Social Justice, Small is Beautiful, and Agile Mindset. In fact, in all of our forward planning, each one of these principles has informed how we respond to the current health crisis and manage the pandemic for our community in a way that puts health, safety, wellness, and equity at the center of our decision-making.

In thinking of an acronym to capture our thinking, the word “ARCTIC ” comes closest, though several of the letters represent more than one intention. While we are still working through our daily and weekly schedule models, our remote learning will:

  • Be adaptable to be able to be experienced in person or online, for both domestic and  international students, as well as accommodating to provide space for individual attention to students.
  • Be routine in order to provide stability and predictability, in addition to to providing  dedicated space for intention-setting and reflection.
  • Provide continuity in order to move the academic program forward in shifting circumstances, and connection to be able to  provide daily points of contact in and out of the scope of academic coursework. 
  • Be transferable, to adapt learnings from last spring and summer work with Global Online Academy  into our forward curriculum planning. 
  • Allow individual attention to support our students as they manage the stress of what it means to be in  school in this time. 
  • Foster community to be able to build and maintain a cohesive sense of togetherness. 

Curriculum and Program

We are committed to ensuring a robust, equitable learning experience for all. With the support of professional development grants, all teaching faculty have refined teaching methods and developed curricula that can flow smoothly across both in-person and remote learning platforms. Given their success this spring, and the growth of our online program over the summer, we are confident in the excellent program in place for all of our students.

For our international students, we are offering a program structured in such a way as to allow them to stay in compliance with immigration regulations and get the best possible Northwest School educational experience. International students who are not able to come to Seattle due to visa delays and/or travel restrictions can participate in our academic program online and receive academic support until they can travel to the United States.


The Upper School athletics seasons have been shifted and modified in accordance with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s recent changes to the 2020-21 sport season calendar. The seasons have been moved to later in the school year and compressed in length, as follows:

  • December 28-February 28: Winter season (Basketball, Mixed Ultimate)
  • March 1- May 2: Fall season (Cross Country, Girls Soccer, Boys Ultimate, Girls Volleyball)
  • April 26-June 27 (extending past the end of the school year): Spring season (Boys Soccer, Girls Ultimate, Track & Field)

(It should be noted that the dates above are tentative and further changes may be made to respond to the changing situation around the pandemic). As no sport seasons will be happening in the fall the WIAA has designated September 28-November 30 as a period when coaches may conduct practices (online or in-person, appropriate to COVID-19 health and safety guidelines at that time). More details will follow as we get clarity on what we’ll be able to offer during the fall. If you have questions regarding athletics please reach out to Britt Atack, Upper School Athletic Director, at britt.atack@northwestschool.org.

Safe Campus

We are utilizing the CDC Decision Tree for Schools as a key guideline for our reopening process in conjunction with the Governor's Safe Start Phased Re-opening plan and the Safe 6 Essentials as our three primary points of reference. These guidelines also take the pressure off of us to forecast definitive timeframes and diffuse attempts to make decisions based on arbitrary or subjective information.

Our facilities department has been hard at work securing our campus to be safe for in-person instruction. When it is time to return to the house, everyone on campus will be required at minimum to:

  • Participate in a health check prior to coming to campus.
  • Wear masks.
  • Follow the directions of which way we will move through out campus.
  • Wash hands at routine intervals.
  • Be responsive to the guidelines we put in place to protect our community during hybrid learning.

In addition, we are in the process of hiring a health coordinator who will bring expertise to managing the health and safety of our community members and campus. As we approach the transition to hybrid learning, we will be providing a more detailed list of requirements for returning to campus.


Our chief goal in this crisis is to keep our community intact. In recognition of the impact the pandemic has had on some of our families, we have reopened our financial aid application process. If you’ve experienced changed circumstances, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Jonathan Hochberg or Michele Sanchez in our Admissions office. We have also dropped the finance charges for families who opt to pay in three or ten installments. If spreading your payments out would ease your tuition burden, please contact Michal Allaire, our CFO.