Thursday Thoughts: National Principals Month, COVID-19 Update, Indigenous Peoples Day and More

I trust you had an opportunity to take in today's crisp fall weather accented by blue skies. Even though the temperatures have been somewhat cool, the brilliant sunlight provides that light and energy that I'm sure we can all appreciate as we head toward the end of a very busy week.

National Principals Month

October is National Principals Month and so I would like to personally recognize our fantastic Northshore principals. I want to share how important our principals and assistant principals are to the achievement of our core work in the schools. I applaud their passionate justice driven leadership and would invite you to share your own personal thanks sometime during the month with your school principal.  I firmly believe it is only through the power of public education that our communities and country will remain strong. Each of us plays a role and together, all things are possible...

COVID-19 Update

I want to provide you with a brief COVID-19 update. I am so proud of our community's commitment to making sure our students and staff stay healthy and school buildings remain open. Each week, an average of 15,000 students and staff are participating in the batch COVID testing with a very small number of positive batches and individual positive results. You always see a snapshot of the COVID-19 picture in Northshore here on our COVID-19 Dashboard. Each participant is helping us identify and isolate positive cases so the learning can continue. Thank you! The process for confirmatory testing continues to be improved upon, including a new option for families and staff to pre-register for a specific time window to receive their confirmatory testing at Pop Keeney Stadium. This will relieve some of the congestion and wait time. We are also finalizing plans for vaccinated students and staff to receive confirmatory testing in the school building.

Vaccine Mandate for Staff and Volunteers

Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 21-14.1 announced on August 18, 2021, mandates that all school and school district employees become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or obtain an approved medical or religious exemption by October 18, 2021, as a condition of continued employment. Our District is required by law to collect proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or approve a religious or medical exemption, from all of our employees.  You must complete this task (fill out the form and upload proof of vaccination) within TalentEd Records by the Friday, Oct. 8, 2021 deadline. We value every single employee and your contributions in this great District, and I want you all to know we are doing everything we can to provide an opportunity for colleagues who have not yet responded to the mandatory validation communications to submit their documentation and complete the process. It is vitally important that everyone completes this task as the District will be required to begin a process that leads towards termination of employment if this form is not completed by Oct. 8, 2021. Volunteers have also been notified of this requirement and we already have more than 1,000 volunteers fully verified.  If you need support in this process, please reach out ASAP to our Human Resources office, or via phone at (425) 408-7601. 

Indigenous Peoples Day

Oct. 11, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day, which celebrates Indigenous peoples and honors their histories, culture, legacies, and futures. On this day and always, it is important to recognize Indigenous peoples locally, who have been and still are here since time immemorial. The Coast Salish peoples live in and beyond the Puget Sound and we must continue to honor their enduring strength, lives, and communities. The Northshore School District occupies Coast Salish lands and continues to collaborate with local tribal members to build and strengthen these vital partnerships. In Our House, we join hands with our community and keep working toward just futures together. For additional learning and resources, you can visit the Racial and Educational Justice Department’s website

In addition, you are invited to join a local event celebrating Indigenous People's Day!  The Eastside Native American Education Program (ENAEP) is inviting students, families, staff, and community members to join as we celebrate Indigenous People’s Day. The ENAEP Youth Planning Committee’s goal is to unify and bring awareness of the many Indigenous Nations across their Homelands. You can join ENAEP on Monday Oct. 11, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. The planning committee has students from Northshore, Lake Washington and Bellevue school districts. If you have questions or wish to inquire further about Eastside Native American Education Program please contact Native American Education Coordinator, Mary Wilber at mwilber@lwsd.org.

State of Latino Education Summit

Assistant Director for Accelerated Models and Programs, Elizabeth Meza, shared that she attended the State of Latino Education Summit hosted by Latinos for Education this morning. The organization's mission is to develop Latino educators and leaders to advocate and create policies that lead to an equitable education for Latino students. This was the first annual summit that included an address by U.S. Secretary of Education, Dr. Miguel Cardona. Dr. Cardona challenged attendees to seize this opportunity in time to reclaim the promise of educational equity.

While Latinos make up 25% of students in the U.S., Latino teachers are only 8% of the total teaching workforce in our country. There is a great deal of work to be done, as we recover from the pandemic, to address the disparities in educational outcomes for our Latino students. One priority must be on developing a pipeline of students to enter higher education and return to our schools and communities to contribute to the success of the next generation. As Hispanic/Latino/Latinx Heritage Month comes to an end next week, it's good to note that Indigenous Peoples' Day is recognized as Día de la Raza in Spanish. Elizabeth says Northshore's Latinx community plans to gather to learn more about COVID-19 and ensure that our students graduate to then have access to higher education opportunities.

I want to thank Elizabeth Meza for her leadership in bringing back insights from the State of Latino Education Summit and this powerful spoken word video of educator Sofia Gonzalez. From the video description: "The poem was inspired by my 2021 Latinx Teacher's Fellowship experience with Latinos for Education. It is a letter to our Latindad with an emphasis on our passion, our promise, and our possibilities as Latino educators and leaders longing to affect change. Juntos, podemos." -Sofia Gonzalez   Let’s continue to imagine the possibilities…

As I think about our amazing fall weather, I am looking forward to getting outside this weekend and hope that you too find time to crunch leaves, tour trails, or whatever brings you joy during this season.

All the best and take good care,

Michelle Reid, Ed.D.
Superintendent

 

 

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