Update from San Juan Island School District Superintendent

Posted December 5, 2021 at 4:11 am by

Can you believe it? Win­ter break is almost upon us. Wasn’t it just yes­ter­day that we opened our school doors to full day, in-per­son instruc­tion? Even though this fall has flown by, last week’s Thanks­giv­ing cel­e­bra­tion remind­ed me we have much to be grate­ful for in our pub­lic schools.

Hope­ful­ly you have noticed the rebuild­ing of the ten­nis courts. Weath­er has kept us from final com­ple­tion, but we are look­ing for­ward to using this facil­i­ty by ear­ly spring. In addi­tion to the ten­nis courts, we have begun work on the following:

  1. Re-roof­ing Stu­art Island School.
  2. Devel­op­ing plans for the new art room in the STEM building.
  3. Ini­ti­at­ing design devel­op­ment for the high school sci­ence and culi­nary rooms.

We want you to know that we are mak­ing progress on our Cap­i­tal Projects list, and we are sin­cere­ly thank­ful for the com­mu­ni­ty sup­port of our Cap­i­tal levy two years ago.

We have much to cel­e­brate. On cam­pus, the stu­dents bring a spark of ener­gy to the build­ings that resem­bles pre-pan­dem­ic days. Through COVID-19 mit­i­ga­tion pro­to­cols, our sports teams are allowed to safe­ly com­pete. Music and the­ater stu­dents will soon be per­form­ing. These kids are cer­tain­ly inspir­ing in their abil­i­ty to adapt and keep moving!

By state order every­one that enters the build­ing must wear a mask. Out­side, masks are not man­dat­ed, but social dis­tanc­ing is expect­ed. At school we work hard to ensure that safe­ty pro­to­cols are imple­ment­ed with fideli­ty. Even so, COVID-19 has reached into the schools. As a result, some stu­dents have found them­selves in quar­an­tine. With each pos­i­tive case, our response has been quick and deci­sive. Any poten­tial spread was mit­i­gat­ed, and class­es continued.

So, what are these mit­i­gat­ing steps?

  1. The dis­trict does con­tact trac­ing when a case is iden­ti­fied. Because seat­ing charts are man­dat­ed, we can quick­ly iden­ti­fy which stu­dents would be con­sid­ered close con­tact (with­in three feet for over fif­teen min­utes) and they are then quar­an­tined for ten days. Vac­ci­nat­ed stu­dents are not man­dat­ed to quarantine.
  2. Those stu­dents with­in three to six feet can enter the “test to stay” pro­gram. In this pro­gram, stu­dents are test­ed every two days for two weeks with a rapid anti­gen test. If neg­a­tive, they are allowed to come to school, but are, in effect, under quar­an­tine for the time out­side their school day. This has worked well to keep stu­dents in their classes.
  3. We con­tin­ue to offer free test­ing to staff and stu­dents on Wednes­day after­noons and at oth­er times if requested.
  4. We pro­vide more thor­ough PCR tests to quar­an­tined stu­dents on day 8 or 9 of their quar­an­tine so they can return by day 11.

At this point in time, our process­es are work­ing and the num­ber of stu­dents who miss school has been lim­it­ed. We will remain dili­gent in enforc­ing our safe­ty mea­sures. Chil­dren need face to face instruc­tion, so we strict­ly fol­low the guid­ance of the health depart­ment, keep­ing pace with new infor­ma­tion. We live in world where COVID is real, but we must move for­ward, main­tain safe behav­iors, and give stu­dents oppor­tu­ni­ties to learn and grow.

As your super­in­ten­dent, I lis­ten very care­ful­ly to opin­ions con­cern­ing masks, man­dates, and vac­ci­na­tions. As Amer­i­cans, we have the right to voice our opin­ion. Civ­il dis­course is the bedrock of our democ­ra­cy. As a school dis­trict we remained ded­i­cat­ed to con­sis­tent­ly fol­low­ing the guide­lines estab­lished by Governor’s office, the State Depart­ment of Health, and the coun­ty health and com­mu­ni­ty ser­vices. Our objec­tive is keep­ing stu­dents in the classroom.

It is hard to say what the new year will bring. As a soci­ety we seem to be re-learn­ing how to live and work even with the threat of a new vari­ant. How­ev­er, change seems to be the way of life. What I can promise you is that we are going to con­tin­ue to work hard to keep schools a safe place for children.

Speak­ing of hard work, I want to offer a huge thank you to our ded­i­cat­ed teach­ers and staff. From the bus dri­vers to kitchen staff, to office per­son­nel, to our cus­to­di­ans and of course, to those in the class­room, all have been work­ing hard on behalf of stu­dent suc­cess and well­be­ing. We have had to adapt, be flex­i­ble, and in some cas­es, learn how to com­mu­ni­cate dif­fer­ent­ly. Through it all, our staff has remained com­mit­ted to excellence.

As we move into the final week before the schools’ win­ter break, I would like to take a moment to express my grat­i­tude for your on-going sup­port. I wish you and your fam­i­ly a won­der­ful hol­i­day sea­son and a safe and rest­ful win­ter break.

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