As I shared with you on Sunday, our instructional teams spent today planning and preparing for online learning experiences for our 23,577 students. An added benefit to this important staff training day is that our custodial staff were busy cleaning high-touch, high-traffic areas of each school, our food service workers were cleaning their areas and innovating meal service practices to decrease the risk of spreading germs, and our transportation department made sure every bus and van was disinfected.
Tomorrow, March 4 will be a normal early release Wednesday for all schools with the exception of Frank Love Elementary, which remains closed. Unfortunately, we still do not have the results for the staff member who is being tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus. Should families at any other school choose to keep students home due to illness or a concern, this will be considered an excused absence and students will have the opportunity to make up work. Please call the school to let them know you will be keeping your student home.
We are closely monitoring the situation across our region. As of this evening, there are 21 confirmed cases of coronavirus in King County, including eight deaths; there are six cases in Snohomish County, including one death. Keep in mind that just five days ago, there was only one known COVID-19 coronavirus case and no deaths. As our district straddles both counties and three cities, we are impacted by the collective data. Tomorrow, I will be meeting with the city managers of our three cities as we collaborate on safe and healthy supports for our community.
Each day, more of our families, students, and staff are being asked to self-quarantine, and we are finding it increasingly difficult to staff our schools and support services. Many of our families have reported that their employers have provided direction to work from home at this time. Others have reported that their employers are cancelling in person meetings and businesses, and other government agencies have closed on-site operations. I will continue to closely monitor this data as we thoughtfully plan forward. I have also appreciated our work with the health departments in King and Snohomish counties, who continue to provide recommendations on healthy habits to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Today staff sharpened their blended learning skills and acquired new tools and strategies in preparation to potentially move the classroom to the cloud, to transition teaching and learning beyond the four walls of the classroom. As I noted in a previous letter, we are considering this educational option as a way to navigate the major health concerns brought by the COVID-19 coronavirus should I feel it necessary to close schools for an extended period of time.
I understand that taking the classroom to the cloud will require computing devices for all of our students. If you are in this situation, I am asking you to complete this form and we will arrange to loan your student a computing device and if necessary an accompanying internet hot spot.
By tomorrow afternoon, students and parents/guardians will receive additional information on how to prepare for fully implemented online learning should this become necessary.
We receive new information daily on this rapidly changing health concern. As we continue our efforts to be prepared for the events ahead, it would be prudent to have students bring home any materials they have at school that would best support their online learning experience should we need to close schools for an extended period of time.
I will continue to provide regular updates as we will continue to closely monitor the relevant staff and student attendance data, as well as new COVID-19 coronavirus cases and exposures. In the meantime, I want to share a valuable resource from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) about preventing COVID-19 spread in communities. The page has information about how to prepare at home, in school, at work and beyond.
Thank you for your continued patience and support as we navigate these challenging times.
Michelle Reid, Ed.D.