Thursday Thoughts: Planning for 2020-2021, Fall Sports and More

I trust this note finds each of you enjoying a fabulous summer week.  As this is our first full week of July, I feel it is safe to say we are in full summer swing ;>)  In thinking about all of the opportunities that await us in the coming days, I am reminded of the thoughtful words shared many years ago by a coaching colleague of mine, former WSU basketball Coach George Raveling; “It is incredibly difficult to recognize that the way we achieved something yesterday may not be the way to achieve it tomorrow.”

Planning for Fall 2020-2021

As such, I want to update you on the more intensive phase of fall planning that we’ve engaged in over the past four days, and will continue to engage in through next week. I continue to be so inspired by the commitment of more than 50 staff and association representatives who are coming together to engage in deep learning and discussions on how we can best serve all of our students, families and staff in the coming year. The creativity and innovation that is flowing in these discussions is …well, they are imagining the possibilities for all of our students and staff and I so appreciate each and every one of them. Of course, this process would not be complete without the voices of our students and parents/guardians. I have worked with staff and community members to build focus groups. The student focus group is comprised of students from across the District who have diverse experiences and academic interests. The parent/guardian focus group brings forth experiences of students and other parents ranging from music, English language learners, specials services, art, HiCap and so much more. I feel quite confident that our student and family experiences during Northshore Learns 2.0 are well represented by all of the voices in our Zoom rooms and as Tim Brittell and I meet with these groups, we continue to learn more about how to best plan forward; together, all things are possible…

While we will not be able to provide the plan of plans until the first week in August, I can share that the Northshore Education Association and the Northshore School District bargaining teams have agreed to the following framework:

For the 2020-21 school year, the Northshore School District is planning an online/remote-only instructional model with phases for in-person/online hybrid models as allowed or required by the impacts of a changing health situation, available resources, and direction from OSPI, our Governor, and our Health Department(s). As the public health situation continues to evolve, the District and Association will continue to work together to renegotiate these models. The common understanding is that all models will prioritize the health and safety of our students and staff, the advancement of a more racially just system, and positive educational outcomes. 

These models will include the following elements:

  • Any student or staff member’s presence at school will only be allowed with safe and healthy protocols.
  • Meeting the social-emotional learning needs of students and staff will be part of both the online and hybrid models.
  • The online / remote-only model will include plans to address specific student populations (e.g. students with IEPs, students with 504s, students farthest from educational justice, EL students, multilingual students, and other students identified with challenging needs).
  • At the time when it is appropriate to move from an online/remote only model, the hybrid models will include a rotation in which some, but not all, students are on campus at any one time.
  • Hybrid models will include more in-person time for specific student populations (e.g. students with IEPs, students with 504s, students farthest from educational justice, EL students, multilingual students, and other students identified with challenging needs).
  • Hybrid models will include more in-person time for some of our youngest students.

We are also reviewing additional information as we plan our path forward, including the recent survey results from students and parents/guardians. Keep in mind that we received more than 12,600 responses, so I am still combing through the comments and data. Some information that has stood out thus far is that overall, students reported a higher satisfaction rating in both elementary and secondary than the parents did with remote learning. Students indicated that they felt very cared for by their teachers and expressed the desire to meet with their teachers more often. Students felt mostly disconnected from their classmates. As we consider technical logistics while working through different planning scenarios for the fall, these numbers are important: currently, 56% of parents responding reported that they would send their students back to school buildings in the fall and 30% of them would put their students on the school bus. Parents and students all reported overwhelmingly that having one centralized location or online platform for all school work would make remote learning easier.  We are working on all of these areas and more to create a more robust and sustainable plan that will hopefully take us through the coming school year. I will continue to provide updates throughout the summer as new information surfaces.  Imagine the possibilities… 

Fall Sports

During its July 7th meeting, the Washington Interscholastic Athletics Association (WIAA) Executive Board took action to delay the start of the fall athletics season until September 5th for football and September 7th for all other fall sports.  The WIAA Board will continue to work with staff, member schools and state agencies to monitor the impact of COVID-19.  The WIAA Board plans to make its next statement concerning the start of fall sports on July 22nd following its next scheduled meeting.  In the interim, a committee of Board members, staff, and select WIAA stakeholders will work to create a fall schedule with the adjusted start dates.  We will continue to update you as we are updated by the WIAA. 

Summer Food Service Program

In exciting news, Northshore's Summer Food Service Program is off and running! In our first two weekly meal pack pick-up dates, we served over 33,000 meals to Northshore children. Each meal pack includes food for 7 lunches, 7 breakfasts, and a gallon of milk. Meal packs that went out today included items such as macaroni & cheese, chicken, yogurt, cheese, apples, pears, carrots, crackers, cereal and more. Continuing to provide access to nutrition has been a priority here in Northshore throughout this pandemic. While we have committed to maintaining access to meals during this exceptionally challenging time, we were fortunate to be awarded a generous gift that will help us meet the increased demand for food assistance in our community. We’re both excited and grateful to receive a $75,000 grant from Safeway and Haggen's Nourishing Neighbors Foundation! The grant is meant to help feed children and families during the summer. As we are all aware, hunger relief programs like ours are stretched beyond capacity due to the surge in unemployment and other economic and social fallout from the pandemic. In response to what quickly became a critical need, Safeway and Haggen Companies pledged to help feed children and families during summer, part of the Foundations’ Nourishing Neighbors Initiative. Our deepest gratitude to this Safeway and Haggen Foundation. The support, partnership, and generosity are truly making a difference.

Remembering

In thinking about our Northshore family this evening, I want to pause for a moment to talk about Aaliyah Toomer, a six year old bright spark of love, light and joy whose life tragically came to an end late last month. Aaliyah and her family were on their way to visit relatives in Arizona. As they traveled through California, they were in a fatal car crash that took the lives of Aaliyah and her little brother. This is simply heartbreaking to her parents, siblings and other family members traveling with them and those in Arizona waiting on them to arrive. And Aaliyah’s loss was felt here at Canyon Creek Elementary, where she had just graduated from kindergarten and often checked in on her big brother, Amari, on the way to library time. Her teacher, Ms. Kara McGrew shared these words, “I miss Aaliyah. I miss her smile and her determination. I miss her laughter and the way she skipped down the hall. I miss her creativity and how she always wanted to help. I wasn’t her family, but she left a deep imprint on my heart.” Ms. McGrew went on to say that Aaliyah felt everything deeply and that drew people to her. In fact, I understand that she once built a fort in the corner of the classroom for herself, and one by one, she invited her classmates into the fort until the whole class was in there with her.

Please join me in keeping Aaliyah’s family, friends, and all those so profoundly impacted, in your thoughts and prayers as they navigate the road through their grief and physical and emotional healing. And at this tumultuous time in our world, let’s follow Aaliyah’s example. As we are taking care of ourselves, let’s remember to – one by one – invite others into our lives.

And so, as I contemplate the days ahead, I often remember the words of poet Emily Dickinson --

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

Enjoy this season and all its wonders, these are our best days…

Michelle Reid, Ed.D.
Superintendent

 

 

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