Call center reminder
The district call center for Coronavirus-related questions and concerns is open for staff, families and community members. Feel free to contact us here and we’ll do our best to answer your questions.
Update to learning resources planning
The superintendent’s leadership team has been working to provide learning activities that meet legal requirements for equitable educational opportunities for all students. Phase one of the rollout includes setting up a website with activities categorized by grade bands and subjects. We are building the website now and the materials should be ready by the end of this week. We’ll add activities as we receive updates and new guidance from Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).
OSPI has identified five priorities in the following order to guide their work (and ours) in the immediate future:
- Meals for children
- Employee compensation
- Providing childcare, especially for families of healthcare workers or first responders
- Graduation requirements
- Enrichment learning
Here’s a quick update so you can see where we are with each priority:
Meals for children
We are serving free breakfasts and lunches 11:30 to 1 p.m. beginning today at four schools, including Challenger, Horizon, Odyssey and Mariner.
Tomorrow, we’ll bring on three more sites including Columbia, Mukilteo and Serene Lake elementary schools. We’ll continue providing meals at these sites throughout the district closure.
By the end of this week, Food and Nutrition will provide meal drop offs at select bus stops as well. The district will communicate those locations to the families in those neighborhoods.
We are waiting for guidance from state officials about further compensation provisions, but it is still our strong interest in protecting employee compensation. Chris Reykdal, OSPI Superintendent, has made the very same statement. Compensation for employees will have immediate and potentially long-lasting economic impacts to our community and we are working to minimize those as best we can.
Providing childcare, especially for families of healthcare workers or first responders
We received requests for a total of 540 children in the childcare questionnaire that went out Friday and closed this morning. About one third of those are from healthcare workers and first responders. We’ve shared those families’ contact information with our childcare partners, YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club, and the providers will follow up with the families to fill their available spots.
Childcare is set to begin tomorrow at the following schools and will use small groups for social distancing:
- Columbia Elementary (YMCA)
- Endeavour Elementary (Boys and Girls Club)
- Fairmount Elementary (Boys and Girls Club)
- Lake Stickney Elementary (YMCA)
- Mukilteo Elementary (YMCA)
- Odyssey Elementary (Boys and Girls Club)
- Olivia Park Elementary (Boys and Girls Club)
- Serene Lake Elementary (YMCA)
OSPI and the State Board of Education will provide guidance this week and we’ll share that as soon as we receive it. We expect little local control and more options will be guided by the state to help seniors graduate on time.
We also know that earning credit for students in grades 9-12, College in the High School and Advanced Placement are extremely important. We are awaiting guidance from OSPI and the State Board of Education.
This is a frequent question with families and staff and also very important to us. Please be patient. There are legal implications of what and how we provide for families. The new information we receive daily makes it challenging to plan, however, work is happening to increase flexible options. We’ll continue to work with OSPI and communicate with staff and families.
One more priority
We care about our students! Although we do not have all the answers right now to the many questions that are being posed to us, family health and well-being are also our priority. Please make sure you are practicing social distancing, washing your hands and talking with your family about their well-being. Thank you for your support.
Answer: Our staff will work as quickly as possible to schedule missed IEP/Evaluation meetings once school resumes.
Answer: Special education staff may still hold IEP/Evaluation meetings during the closure. Consistent with social distancing protocols, these meetings will be held remotely over the phone or computer. District staff will contact you to arrange a meeting. If you prefer to wait until after the closure and have a face-to-face meeting, that is also permitted.
Answer: Since school is closed for all students, special education services will not be provided. Teachers and related service providers will be available via email starting March 23rd, in the event you have questions regarding how you can provide support for your student at home during the closure.
Governor Inslee announced on March 16 that gatherings of 50 or more people are banned and restaurants, coffee shops and other social gathering establishments will be closed for two weeks. As a result, staff has been asked not to report to work unless they must perform essential district operations. Throughout this week, the superintendent’s leadership team is receiving further guidance from OSPI and the State Board of Education and will communicate that to staff and families.
We will send regular messages with updates to staff and families, probably daily for now. We are sending messages through Blackboard Connect (including available language translations) and posting on the district website and the website of any affected school. You can find it in the news section on those home pages.
For now, we are communicating directly with staff and families rather than through social media. We are not posting on FlashAlert because it is difficult to capture the context of a situation in such a short message.
If you didn’t receive any message about the school closures this morning, you may want to ensure your child’s school has your current phone or email address on file.
We are discussing what that might look like should the situation necessitate it, but we do not have any plans to provide online learning at this time. There are many things to consider including equity, device availability, software licensing, curriculum, assessments and collective bargaining agreements, to name a few.
While the information is changing day-to-day, schools will remain open unless there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a student, staff member or close contact. It is important to provide continued instruction and, for some students, meals unless an infection prevents us from doing so. Most students are healthy and are not at risk for complications from COVID-19. Medically vulnerable and people over 60 are most at risk from COVID-19. Closing schools is not currently recommended by Snohomish Health District or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We understand that each family situation is different and some may have vulnerable family members they want to protect from possible exposure. Your family is the ultimate decision maker about what steps to take to keep your family safe. Please contact your school if you have questions about make-up work from missed school.
The best prevention to avoid upper respiratory infections, including COVID-19, is to follow these steps:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid contact with people who are sick
- Stay home while sick and avoid close contact with others
- Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash hands
- Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow rather than hands
The only staff the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing masks right now are health care workers. School nurses and HSPE staff wear masks when working with students showing certain symptoms as recommended by the Department of Health Guidelines for Schools, but there is no current recommendation for other staff, students, or the general public to wear masks.
In addition to their regular cleaning practices that follow Department of Health recommendations, custodial teams at every school are being asked to give an especially thorough cleaning of high-touch areas such as doorknobs, handles, crashbars, light switches, lunch room tables, kitchen counters and floors, locker rooms, student and staff desks and chairs. This applies to schools and administrative and support offices.
The facilities team are stocking up on cleaning supplies and products, including disinfectants approved for Coronavirus. They have also ordered extra gloves and other supplies for custodial team members and are providing extra cleaning supplies for the transportation department to use on buses.
Technology staff are cleaning technology devices, mice, keyboards and tablets at Mariner and Discovery today.
The Snohomish Health District is not recommending people get tested for the virus unless they are showing symptoms. If you were at Mariner or Discovery recently, continue your good health habits and take care of yourself. The Snohomish Health District will contact people who they think may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Unless you hear otherwise, it is business as normal. At the same time, you can take good care of yourselves, stay home when sick, wash your hands and find ways to relax and rest.
If there is a confirmed COVID-19 case in a student or their close contact, we will follow the practice of closing that school for a day to perform some deep cleaning. Currently, closing schools is not currently recommended by Snohomish Health District or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, we are choosing to close schools for a deep cleaning out of extra caution for our staff, students and their families.
Each family can decide the best response based on their situation. The School Board states in Procedure 3122 that absences can be excused due to school safety concerns.
If a school is closed, as in the case of Mariner and Discovery today, all activities and gatherings scheduled for that school will be cancelled. All other school and district activities will continue as planned.