Letter to Families: Gov. Inslee's Announcement

Hello Northshore Families,

I know this continues to be a challenging time for each of you and your students.  I can appreciate the myriad of emotions that surround the current COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

This afternoon, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that in order to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in our state, he is ordering, “the closure of schools in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties.” Under this order, schools “must close and end classes by the end of this coming Monday. The first possible weekday back will be April 27.”

After consultation with officials this afternoon, I have decided that beginning Monday, we must pause our current ‘school model’. As a consequence of these developments, we will be studying ways to iterate our next instructional program design to be in congruence with the ‘new normal’ school expectations for our county and region. Tomorrow, teachers will connect with students as they have this week and both review work accomplished as well as reassure students that while we are pausing our current ‘school system’ (per the Governor and OSPI), we still want them to take advantage of the resources the District will be providing in the coming days.  Thankfully, during these past several weeks, we have worked hard to have the infrastructure set up and devices delivered so we will want to leverage this in some fashion moving forward.  We will continue to stay in communication with you on what future iterations of our ‘school plan’ will look like.

Our role is to provide equitable access to education for all Northshore students. In the past week, I have marveled at the way our entire district community has come together to train, collaborate, and innovate to do everything within our power to make sure our students’ educational needs are met – in the most incredibly creative ways.

I am thankful for our staff and families who have practiced patience over perfection and given us grace as we forged a path new for our community while keeping the health and safety of our students at the forefront of our work during this time. We take our responsibility to your students and your family seriously, and have been resolutely committed to monitoring and adjusting daily to improve upon our methods of delivering education during this uncertain time.

As leaders across our region have wrestled with ways to provide educational continuity during this unprecedented crisis, issues of equity have, appropriately, come to the forefront; specifically involving special education services, food and nutrition, English learner services, and childcare. Here in Northshore, while we have been able to mitigate several of these challenges, we have not yet been able to mitigate all of them and meet the strict guidelines outlined in federal and state regulations. We are committed to continuing our work in these and other areas as we pause our current online learning initiative model.

We continue to have an inequity across our region and nation when it comes to access to technology and the internet.  This conversation is one that is both immediate and must be ongoing, resulting in action so that the zip code of our students doesn’t determine their access to digital learning.  These tools are key to a nimble response in times such as this.

Showing half the number of states with digital learning repositories

Twenty-six states have digital learning repositories where vetted, curated instructional content and material is available to all educators in the state. Source: “Navigating the Digital Shift 2018” State Educational Technology Directors Association

What does this mean for our Northshore community?

Food & Nutrition Services

Our Food and Nutrition Services is working closely with our Transportation and Communication departments to make lunch available to all students. Currently, we are taking pre-orders for lunch pick-up at 17 sites, while five sites are open from 11am-12pm for grab & go meals for the whole family. Students and families pay according to their current meal pricing eligibility (free, reduced, paid, adult etc.). At this point, we have plans to expand the number of pick up locations next week to help address transportation issues for some of our families. Food & Nutrition Director, Juliana Fisher, is working with OSPI Child Nutrition Specialists to explore all possible options for feeding our students. We will continue to adjust this effort to meet the changing needs of our community during these uncertain times.

Childcare

Our district has created space in five locations for our community partners to provide childcare. Thanks to the YMCA and Champions, there should be a space for every student whose family is in need. In addition, the Northshore Schools Foundation has generously provided scholarships for families who would otherwise be unable to afford the childcare. The community partners will practice social distancing at each location as instructed by Gov. Inslee.

Athletics

Despite our efforts to keep athletics open, it is no longer possible to do so with the mandated closure of our schools.  At the end of practice Friday evening, Northshore is suspending all athletic activities, including practice. We are still hopeful that once schools are allowed to reopen that an abbreviated spring sports season may still be possible.

In closing this evening, I want to share a few thoughts.  As we are faced with situations and circumstances that are not ‘business as usual’, we must begin to think in ways that are not ‘business as usual.’

Next week will see a new iteration of our Classroom to Cloud support for students.  As schools will be officially closed, the District will provide resources for our students on a macro scale rather than a classroom by classroom basis.  As we continue our collaboration with our teachers and support professionals, I will share more about this iteration of our support plan in the coming days prior to Monday.

I want to thank our teachers, our education support staff, our principals, and so many other staff at the district level who have worked long hours to support the first week of our Classroom to Cloud transition in the wake of mounting health concerns.  The energy, dedication and optimism of each of our professionals has been and continues to be inspiring. Also, we could not have reached the quality of online learning that we did without our parents and caregivers learning and engaging alongside their students. We will continue to research and study how to best support our students, staff and families as we traverse this dynamic terrain.

As I contemplate the March Madness of old, I want to quote a favorite; “Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”  -- John Wooden

We are Northshore !!

Warmest Regards,
Michelle Reid, Ed.D.
Superintendent

 

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