Well, what a week !! As we enjoy this beautiful late summer weather, I continue to be so appreciative of each and every one of you as we pursue our commitment to mountain top educational experiences for each and every student in this amazing district – even as we face epic challenges this year.
COVID-19 Batch Testing
In about a week, we plan to begin our COVID-19 batch testing program for students in grades K-12. As the name “batch” suggests, everyone in a classroom or cohort puts their test samples together in a batch vial with no names or personally identifiable information. This will be very similar to the batch testing we did last spring. To minimize time away from the classroom, we are arranging for next-day confirmatory testing at Pop Keeney Stadium for any student whose classroom/cohort batch has a positive result. Quarantine and confirmatory testing decisions will be made in accordance with the current protocols. This is an important method to help keep COVID-19 cases low and school buildings open. More details to come as I expect they will be finalized very soon.
Updated COVID-19 Response Plan
Today, President Biden shared an updated COVID-19 response plan and signed an executive order that affects employers across the country including the Northshore School District. In the plan, the White House mandates that the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) develop a “rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work.” He also said federal funding will continue to be available for testing in K-12 schools. I will stay connected to this work and will share updates with you as more information becomes available.
As fall sports are in full swing, I want to share expectations for student athletes and spectators. Public Health Seattle & King County issued an order effective Tuesday, Sept. 7. The order requires vaccinated and unvaccinated attendees at outdoor events with greater than 500 attendees to wear a mask at all times unless consuming food or drink. Governor Inslee issued a face covering order today that will go into effect for events statewide. Properly wearing an appropriate face covering in public settings is proven to be one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of COVID-19. Face coverings help you avoid jeopardizing the health of the student athletes participating in the game and others in the community. As this fast-spreading Delta variant is in our midst and affecting young people at higher rates, we want to follow important county and state mandated protocols that are intended to keep our student athletes in play and all students in the classroom. If a spectator at one of our events refuses to wear a mask they must leave the venue immediately. Spectators are expected to be kind and respectful to one another. I know we will work together to do what is best for the health of our students and community and I look forward to watching our athletes compete.
I was pleased to hear from Safety & Security Director Henry Simon that the City of Bothell is in the process of replacing 14 school beacons near eight of our schools. These are expected to be installed by the end of November. Director Simon reports that the City of Kenmore also has been busy maintaining and updating beacons throughout Kenmore. These beacons are an important safety measure as they alert drivers that they are approaching an active school zone. While the school zone can still be enforced, beacons provide a visual warning to help keep students safe. I am so grateful for the partnership we have with our cities and counties and the work we do together to make our Northshore community safer.
Cameras continue to be installed across the District to improve safety for students and staff. To date, new cameras have been installed at Crystal Springs, Frank Love, Kokanee, Woodmoor, Ruby Bridges, Westhill and Woodmoor elementary schools. They have also been installed at Sorenson Early Childhood Center, Innovation Lab High School and the campus at Bear Creek, which houses the Northshore Family Partnership and Northshore Networks Programs. Recently, a contract was awarded for installation at Kenmore, Maywood Hills and Woodin elementaries, which are scheduled for this fall. Camera inventory has also been purchased for Bothell and Inglemoor high schools, Canyon Park, Kenmore and Skyview middle schools, as well as for Secondary Academy for Success. These schools are anticipated to have contracts awarded and installation completed later this school year.
Prior to this districtwide initiative, the District’s elementary schools lacked video coverage, and systems installed at certain middle and high schools were aging. Once complete, the additions and modernizations will enable better area coverage, improved technology, clearer images, better compression which reduces storage needs, and newer cameras that are compatible with a new centralized video management system (VMS). To ensure security and integrity of the new VMS system, the team is working closely with District Technology. Additionally, the modernizations will ensure that there is similar coverage on each of our school campuses as specified by the Safe Schools Advisory Committee report from May 2019. The upgrades at the secondary level will be ongoing and are expected to be completed in 2022. Thank you to our generous Northshore voters who approved the 2018 bond, which makes these important safety upgrades possible for our students and staff.
And so, as we continue our journey together and the opportunities we have before us, I am reflective of the thoughts of Les Brown – “Whatever life may send your way - make the best of it. Don't waste your time and energy worrying about it. Instead, find a way to do something about it. Learn from it, adjust to it, be strong, be flexible and be your best in every situation.” These are our best days and I look forward to seeing you in the coming days and weeks; together all things are possible.
Michelle Reid, Ed.D.