Update for School Year 2021–2022 from SJISD Superintendent Fred Woods

Posted August 5, 2021 at 5:48 am by

Contributed photo/ SJISD. Superintendent Fred Woods.

At the begin­ning of June, our school staff was able to cel­e­brate the grad­u­a­tion of seniors from both Fri­day Har­bor School and Grif­fin Bay School out­side on the foot­ball field. See­ing the faces of those stu­dents and shar­ing in their joy was price­less.  The 2020–2021 school year seemed to last for­ev­er as we all nav­i­gat­ed the uncer­tain­ties of COVID 19.

The pan­dem­ic shook the world and changed edu­ca­tion­al approach­es across the globe. What we, as edu­ca­tors, missed most of all last year was inter­ac­tion with stu­dents. As a life­long edu­ca­tor, I can assure you, there is noth­ing more ener­giz­ing than a build­ing full of kids. We are look­ing for­ward to the fall and to the return of stu­dents, the sounds of their voic­es excit­ed to see each oth­er again, and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to resume what we do best.

The online, remote and hybrid instruc­tion imple­ment­ed last year was in response to a dis­ease we did not under­stand. It was impor­tant that we main­tain safe­ty for all while at the same time offer oppor­tu­ni­ties for our community’s chil­dren. Giv­en these cir­cum­stances, San Juan Island School Dis­trict pro­vid­ed the best edu­ca­tion pos­si­ble, but it became very clear, very quick­ly how valu­able in-per­son learn­ing is. 

The fact is that most stu­dents learn more, grow more, and par­tic­i­pate more when in the class­room. We are social beings. We learn from each oth­er, and we need human con­tact. There­fore, on Thurs­day, Sep­tem­ber 2, we will be open­ing our doors to in-per­son learn­ing and stu­dents will return to an all day, five day a week sched­ule. For those fam­i­lies who need their chil­dren to be in a remote set­ting, Grif­fin Bay School will offer off site and remote learn­ing. What­ev­er the choice, it is impor­tant to note that we have put in place addi­tion­al social-emo­tion­al sup­ports for stu­dents across the dis­trict and have increased coun­sel­ing ser­vices to meet their needs. Aca­d­e­m­ic after-school pro­grams will be avail­able for tutor­ing.  Stu­dents will need assis­tance as we return to our robust aca­d­e­m­ic roots.

This is not a return to nor­mal if nor­mal is defined as pre-COVID days. This glob­al cri­sis has not gone away. The Delta vari­ant does cause alarm, and we real­ize that this bat­tle with an invis­i­ble ene­my will con­tin­ue. Through­out the past year, how­ev­er, we have learned how to mit­i­gate the risks. Schools will con­tin­ue to do every­thing pos­si­ble to ensure that stu­dents are safe.

  • All stu­dents and adults who enter the build­ing will wear masks, vac­ci­nat­ed or not. 
    • Wear­ing a mask in pub­lic school is a direct order from the Gov­er­nor and the State Depart­ment of Health.
    • The Super­in­ten­dent of Pub­lic Instruc­tion has informed all dis­tricts statewide that schools who fail to com­ply to this order will not be funded. 
  • COVID test­ing clin­ics will be avail­able on cam­pus once a week on a vol­un­teer basis for our stu­dents and employ­ees. We are now cer­ti­fied to admin­is­ter rapid test­ing as needed. 
  • Staff will con­tin­ue with dis­in­fec­tion pro­to­cols. Our staff will ensure that clean­ing is done con­sis­tent­ly and thoroughly.
  • The air fil­tra­tion sys­tem will be open com­plete­ly to main­tain good air flow.
  • Class­room and lunch time struc­tures will encour­age social distancing.

Just like you, we wish we could go back to pre-COVID. How­ev­er, we will do every­thing we can so stu­dents can be safe­ly in their class­rooms inter­act­ing with their teachers.

As stu­dents return to school, they will notice some oth­er changes. In the ele­men­tary school, Hol­ly Wehn­er will greet stu­dents as their new prin­ci­pal. Hol­ly has taught at the ele­men­tary school since 2014. She has pre­pared rig­or­ous­ly for a prin­ci­pal­ship, and we are proud to have her step into this lead­er­ship role.

On the sec­ondary cam­pus, con­struc­tion is under­way. Vot­ers approved the cap­i­tal levy a lit­tle over a year ago. One of the items on that levy was a new ten­nis facil­i­ty. Soon, you will see the brand-new courts. Of the four courts that will be avail­able to the pub­lic dur­ing non-school hours, two of them will have pick­le­ball lines. Our goal is to cre­ate a facil­i­ty to be used by our ten­nis teams, phys­i­cal edu­ca­tion depart­ment, and the greater community.

All of this begins in one month. As we con­tin­ue to learn how to live life with a virus that con­tin­ues to dis­rupt, we want you to know that San Juan Island School Dis­trict is doing all it can to give stu­dents the oppor­tu­ni­ty to grow, achieve, and be pre­pared for the next step.

Fred Woods
San Juan Island School District

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