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Coronavirus (COVID-19) information

Ferndale Schools are closed Tuesday, March 17 through at least Friday, April 24. Governor Jay Inslee has mandated that all K-12 Schools in Washington close. This web page provides communication updates and resources.
Monday, March 30, 2020

Ferndale School District Coronavirus Information Update

The following is a letter from Ferndale School District Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn to families sent on Monday, March 30, 2020. Find previous letters archived below the latest featured update.


Dear Ferndale Families,

As we begin our third week of the COVID-19 shutdown, I am very happy to report that we have made substantive progress in each of our focus areas during this school closure. As a reminder, those focus areas are (1) food service, (2) childcare, (3) student learning, (4) graduation for seniors, and (5) meaningful work for staff. All of the information and updates we have published during this school closure are available at www.ferndalesd.org/covid-19.

Lots of people have been wondering how long these new rhythms and routines are going to need to be in place before we can get back to “normal.” Although April 27 is still the official return-to-school date in Washington, I have heard several times that Governor Inslee will likely make a decision by April 10 about whether to extend the school closure beyond that date. Since I am always curious about what is going on in other states, I have been periodically checking a map created by the staff of Education Week and updated at least once a day. The map, which provides detailed state-level information about school closures, can be accessed at this address: https://www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/map-coronavirus-and-school-closures.html.


I want to share several newsworthy notes with you this evening.

Ferndale Record Story: You may have seen an article on the front page of the March 25 edition of the Ferndale Record under the headline Cases Reach Ferndale, Lynden. The subheading for the article reads “One a Lynden Manor resident, Ferndale’s a school district food worker.” THIS IS AN ERROR. None of our Ferndale food service workers have been diagnosed with Covid-19. The body of the story refers to the non-tribal employee of the LIBC that I wrote to you about on March 22. As soon as we saw it, we notified the Record of this mistake, and they corrected the online version. However, the print version still carries erroneous information.

Nutrition Services: Again today, we delivered meals to students. Our original plan -- which included using eight District pick-up sites -- has expanded. We are currently using four vans (in addition to buses) and supporting 36 locations. This is an amazing effort to get meals out. It also provides an infrastructure for delivering learning packets and picking up completed student work when we transition to the next phase of our learning plans.

Childcare Services: We launched our childcare program today at Cascadia Elementary School. Nurses were on hand to do a health screenings of children when they arrived. And trained YMCA employees provided the actual care. We believe we are serving all families who, at this point, want to avail themselves of this service.

Technology and Internet Needs: We are beginning to receive a few more inquiries about technology and internet access. At the secondary level, our goal is to make sure every student has a working device and, hopefully, internet access. If students do not have a device and internet access, they should be communicating this information to their advisory teachers, who will in turn pass it along to their building administrators. At the elementary level, it is not going to be as easy for us to come up with a device that every student can take home. We are still in the process of assessing the extent of the need through teachers’ contacts with their students. When we know exactly how big that need is, we will do what we can to address it. However, we will also assure that our tier one instruction at the elementary level can be accessed without technology. In other words we are providing -- and we will continue to provide -- hard copies of lessons, learning packets, and journals through our food distribution sites.


Here are the answers to a few questions we have received recently:

Q: How do I talk with my children about COVID-19?
A: The best thing that you can do for your children is to listen to their concerns and try to validate their feelings. The world may feel particularly unpredictable right now and kids, like adults, process those big feelings in different ways. Here is a link to a great article you might be able to use as background for your conversations: https://medium.com/waospi/talking-to-your-children-about-school-closures-aeb3e6be6456
 

Q: How is the Ferndale School District working to provide learning to students as directed by OSPI? 
A: The Ferndale School District released information regarding learning plans to all families on Wednesday, March 25th. Those resources can be found here: https://www.ferndalesd.org/covid-19/learning-resources

Our current plans are a bridge and provide optional resources and support for families while we work to re-establish contact with every student and family in the District. Our teachers and staff are in the process of making these contacts.

We plan to begin delivering new content and instruction starting April 13 -- the week after our Spring Break.


Q: How are families responding to the learning plans so far?
A: We have, by necessity, turned our educational model inside out and upside down over the last two weeks. The result is something that works well for some – but not all. Our goal is to continue to refine our delivery model so that it works for more students and families. If you have questions and/or feedback as we work towards that goal, please reach out. I want to say a special thank you to our teachers and staff who have gone above-and-beyond to help us imagine a new way of reaching learners. This is a whole new world, and we are grateful for flexibility and creative ideas right now!


Q: What are you hoping District students will get out of these efforts?
A: Our priorities during this time have been (1) food service, (2) childcare, (3) student learning, (4) graduation for seniors, and (5) meaningful work for staff. We established these priorities based on directives from OSPI and the Governor, but they are really reflections of our District’s values as well. We are laser-focused on the physical and emotional safety of our students. During a time of tremendous upheaval and change, we are most concerned that they are safe physically and emotionally right now.

We intend that our next steps to deliver learning to students meet that standard as well. We want to reinforce concepts that have already been taught and support continued growth as we deliver new material. We are very sensitive to the fact that every family situation is different, and some of our students do not have the resources necessary to participate in online learning. We do not want those students to fall through the cracks. Therefore, we are working hard to make sure that our efforts are equitable.


Q: What challenges has the District run into thus far? 
A: Equity is difficult in an online learning environment. While all of our secondary students have been assigned 1:1 devices, we know that not all of our elementary students have access to computers. We also know that those devices are only useful for online learning if there is an internet connection available. Internet access can make online learning inequitable given that some families are not connected to the internet. We are in the process of developing a survey to determine what technology gaps might exist for families.

 

Q: What challenges are you running into for your seniors with regards to their completing necessary requirements for graduation?
A: The guidance on this topic is evolving daily. We sent an email on March 25 to the families of senior students with updated information from the State Board of Education. The information that we sent can be found here:

From the State Board of Education:

The State Legislature passed a new law (EHB 2965) supporting the state's response to the novel coronavirus. This law includes a provision (see Section 10) that allows the State Board of Education to grant an emergency waiver to local education agencies (e.g., school districts, etc.) and private schools. The waiver will provide flexibility so individual students in the graduating Class of 2020 or earlier, who were on track to graduate, are not held back by school closures due to the novel coronavirus.

Under the emergency waiver program, public school districts, charter schools, and tribal compact schools will be able to apply to the State Board of Education for a waiver of certain high school graduation requirements. To get the waiver, schools and districts must demonstrate a good faith effort to address core course requirements and credit deficiencies (see OSPI Bulletin 022-20 for guidance on supporting seniors). In addition, the State Board of Education may waive credit-based graduation requirements and school day and instructional hour requirements for private schools.

The State Board of Education is working with partners to review different scenarios and considerations to ensure the program rules effectively support students, schools, and communities. The Board will hold a Special Meeting from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, to review the draft timeline and considerations for rulemaking. The Board expects to adopt emergency rules by the middle of April.

Please be assured that we will do everything we can to keep all of our high school students earning the credits necessary to move them toward earning a diploma and realizing their post-high-school plans.


That’s everything for this evening. Take care. My thoughts are always with you.

Linda

Week of March 22 - March 28

Dear Ferndale Families,

We have reached the end of our second week of COVID-19 shutdown. I want to take a moment to express my gratitude to our amazing Ferndale School District staff for coming together to figure out how we can become service providers in a whole new way. I am so proud to be part of this team. I especially want to thank our union leaders for their guidance, collaborative problem-solving, and unflappable dedication to making things work for their colleagues, students, families, and our community.

As we head into the weekend, I want to share a summary of where we are in Ferndale with fulfilling the Governor’s five priorities and pass along a few other random pieces of news.  


Update on the Governor’s Five Priorities for School Districts

Nutrition Services: Today we completed our first full week of providing Grab ‘n’ Go meal packages to students. Nutrition Services is distributing food at drive-through and walk-up distribution sites throughout the district, as well as through a home delivery service to families who aren’t able to come to one of our distribution sites. Since the onset of the shut-down, 8,734 meals have been provided to our students! Distributing these meals has been a collaborative effort among several departments and labor groups within our district.

Childcare Services: Starting on Monday, March 30, Ferndale is partnering with the YMCA to open a childcare facility at Cascadia Elementary School. Hours of operation will be 7:00 am to 6:00 pm. YMCA already holds licenses for three facilities in our district. We will start our childcare services in one school, but we could potentially expand to another if we have the numbers to do so. In preparing to launch this childcare program in our district, we have been participating in the Countywide Childcare Emergency Response Coalition. This morning, our FSD nurses and other FSD support staff were trained on childcare screening protocols by nurses from the Bellingham School District. This work has been a very collaborative effort involving support from many of our district departments, as well as individuals throughout the county.

Learning Plans: The secondary instructional team worked to contact as many secondary students and/or parents as possible over the past three days. They distributed learning plans electronically to students and also posted the plans and our letter to parents on the district website. We have translated the parent letter into Spanish and posted that version as well. The Russian translation will be posted soon. Now we are working to translate the learning plans into both Spanish and Russian.

The members of the elementary instructional team have been using Skyward to send messages to their students’ families; and, in the process, they have identified which students are receiving those messages and which are not. They have also started gathering information about families’ needs and fielding questions related to implementing the learning plans sent out on Wednesday, March 25. Next week, staff will reach out to communicate with families on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. These will be “whole group” communications, not individual calls/messages. There is currently NO expectation that teachers will be producing video. We need to provide more training and coordination before we implement this medium. During the weeks ahead, we plan to connect District grade-level teachers via Zoom to enable additional collaboration. Look for more information about this next week.

Support for Graduating Seniors: The Washington State Board of Education met on Thursday of this week (March 26) to discuss rulemaking with respect to graduation requirements for the class of 2020 and beyond. (They realize and intend to address the impact of this shutdown on high school underclassmen as well as seniors, all of whom need to be earning credits toward their diplomas.) As part of the State Board’s discussion, they talked about a credit waiver process and a timeline for this to occur. We anticipate new rules could be adopted as early as the second week of April containing fairly permissive language allowing our district the discretion to waive credits toward graduation for students who are “on track to graduate” as long as we are able to demonstrate a good faith effort to address core course requirements. We have put together a work group focused on high school credits and graduation.

Meaningful Work for All Staff: Each employee group has now been given clarification on what work they should be doing, where they should be doing it and to whom they should report that work. We are asking all employees who are not working onsite to check in daily with their supervisors (or their supervisor’s designee) so we continue to be in touch with one another.


A Few Questions and Answers:

Q: I have heard that teachers are reaching out to students. I have not heard from my student’s teacher. What do I do?
A: Our goal was to reach 100% of our students and/or families by today (March 27) with information about learning plans. However, we were not able to connect with everyone. In some cases, lack of technology and/or internet connectivity created barriers. In other cases, we encountered language barriers. Please know we are working to address these issues. Our goal is still to reach EVERY student. It’s just going to take us a little longer than we anticipated. If you have not heard from your student’s teacher, please feel free to reach us at fsdinfo@ferndalesd.org

Q: How is the Ferndale School District working to meet the needs of families?
A: Our Family and Community Coordinators are working to create a central database of the things our families need beyond food, so that we can relay these needs to the staff at the Whatcom Unified Emergency Management Center, so they in turn can share them with the appropriate community agencies and resources. At this time, our FCCs do not have the ability to provide the things that are being asked for (which includes everything from toilet paper to internet access), but they can help find someone who can.

Q: Is the Ferndale School District participating in Emergency Planning with partner agencies?
A: Yes. We are working in close partnership with emergency management agencies. Within the last few days we established a new relationship with the City of Ferndale whereby we have agreed to establish Ferndale High School as an emergency shelter, should such a space be needed. Among our facilities, we believe FHS can best accommodate quarantine, isolation, and health-related needs for our community. The logistics of such a site must include access for emergency vehicles, staff parking, resident parking, food preparation facilities, and restrooms/showers.

Q: What is the Ferndale School District doing to provide Special Education services during this shutdown?
A: Our Special Education Team is working hard to ensure evaluations, re-evaluations, and IEP deadlines are being met.


Take care of yourselves and those who are counting on you. I will be back in your email next week with updates and information.

Linda

 

Ferndale Families,

Today I want to talk with you about student learning plans from this point forward. At the beginning of our school closure period, the guidance we received from the state was that schools would not provide new learning during the closure. That is changing. Yesterday we received the following guidance from the state (printed below in blue). I am sharing it with you today so that you know what to expect from this point forward:

1. School Districts should prepare an instructional model for the delivery of learning.

How that will look in the Ferndale School District:

Starting today, March 25, teachers will begin contacting students to check in this them and establish a virtual connection.

2. School Districts should plan to provide instruction using printed learning materials, phone contact, email, technology-based virtual instruction, or a combination to meet student needs.

How that will look in the Ferndale School District:

  • Starting today, Wednesday, March 25, we will share learning materials and plans that will bridge the time between now and Spring Break (April 6-10). Material for both elementary and secondary levels can be found here: https://www.ferndalesd.org/covid-19/learning-resources
  • After Spring Break, we plan to return to you with new learning materials for students at appropriate grade levels and subject matters. These materials will be delivered by your student’s teacher(s) and/or advisor. Please watch for additional information.

3. School Districts should operate with an April 27 return-to-school date in mind, but prepare for the possibility of a longer school closure period.

How this will look in the Ferndale School District:

We are still operating as if classes will resume on April 27 as originally announced by Governor Inslee. However, we are also getting early signals that this could be a longer shutdown. We want to prepare for instruction that will carry us through the remainder of this school year. If we are able to return before that time, we will celebrate together.

Although schools are closed and we are not providing traditional in-person instruction, education in Ferndale will continue in a new way.

I know everything is changing quickly. I know some of what we told you yesterday or last week is no longer true. However, there is one thing I can tell you will remain constant. The entire staff of the Ferndale School District is here to support you and your student as we work together in a new way.

Thank you for continuing to trust us with your children. We love and care for them, and we will look forward to the day when we can return to classrooms together.

All the best,

Linda

Ferndale Families,

I don’t have a lot of specific information to share today. However, I want to let you know that I will be sending you a more detailed explanation of learning plans tomorrow. In addition, you and/or your students will be contacted by the end of the day on Friday by staff from their schools who want to take a few moments to check in and share details about learning expectations for the next few weeks.

To make sure we can reach you, please check your Skyward account and also ask secondary students to check their Outlook email. If your students do not have access to their Outlook email, rest assured their teachers will call you at the main telephone number your family has listed in Skyward.

Thank you for your patience as we have worked to figure out how to deliver educational opportunities in a whole new way. Although you have not yet seen the results of their efforts, our principals and teachers have been very busy developing a coordinated plan for reaching all students and their families with meaningful learning opportunities.

Tomorrow (March 25), virtual staff meetings are occurring for every one of our school teams. During these meetings, staff members will be finalizing their instructional plan through Spring Break. Following these meetings, they will begin reaching out to each of you.

Again, we appreciate your partnership as we navigate this unique situation.

I will send you another letter tomorrow evening. Take care of yourselves.

Linda Quinn

Dear Ferndale Families,

I started writing this email at noon today. I tuned into an hour-long webinar with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Reykdal at 2:00 pm. Then I watched Governor Inslee’s press conference at 5:30 pm. Each hour brings new information.

Tonight in his press conference, the Governor issued a stay-at-home order and mandated or encouraged the following:

  • We must close more non-essential businesses and cancel all social gatherings, including weddings and funerals.
  • We should not horde groceries or supplies, but buy only what we require for the week ahead.
  • We need to minimize our physical connections but, at the same time, maximize our emotional connections.

Governor Inslee encouraged every Washingtonian to remain calm and compassionate and “fight through the storm with knuckles tight” (to quote Walt Whitman). He reminded us that this too shall pass.

As has become my practice in these communications, I am including answers to questions that we have received recently:
 

Q: Is the Ferndale School District still working to provide service in each of the categories previously outlined?
A: Although the State keeps tightening the rules about gatherings and social distancing, the five priorities the Governor outlined for us last week remain in place. As a public school system, we are still working to provide (1) nutrition services; (2) childcare services for children of essential workers; (3) learning work and instruction for all students; (4) opportunities for seniors to earn the credits they need to graduate; and (5) meaningful work for all employees so they can continue to be paid.
 

Q: Do you have any additional information regarding the last day of school?
A: Superintendent Reykdal said in a more definitive way today that June 19 will, in fact, be the final day of the 2019-2020 school year. He also suggested that we should all maintain maximum flexibility in planning for the start of school next fall (although I am unsure what that means).


Q: I heard that there has been a positive COVID-19 case in the Ferndale School District. Is that true?
A: Yesterday we learned of a positive COVID-19 case that is closer to our school district than any of those previously reported. I sent you all an email last night explaining that we had been notified that a non-tribal LIBC employee who provides services at Vista, Horizon, and Ferndale High School tested positive for COVID-19, which resulted in Lummi Behavioral Health contacting students who they believe had contact with this person during the past 14 days. I also let you know that the Whatcom County Health Department is aware of this situation and is not recommending further action at this time. Dr. Sterner, who heads up the Whatcom County Health Department, called me personally last night to reiterate this point. With that said, as the number of cases in our county grows, we all need to exercise more intensive precautionary measures.

 

Q: Will the Ferndale School District release additional information regarding the person who tested positive?
A: In response to the message I sent last night, I have received a number of emails asking the name of the person who tested positive -- which I was not given and which I would not be allowed to pass along if I had been given it. I have also received questions about notification to other potential contacts. Here is our response to these inquiries: We are taking our direction from the Health Department and Lummi Behavioral Health, who are charged with making contacts to those whom they believe have been exposed to the virus. For those who have not been contacted, our recommendation is the same as the Governor’s. Now that we are aware that the virus is active in our community, everyone should be behaving as if he/she may have been infected.


Q: Will food service for students continue?
A: Today we again successfully distributed meals to students. We followed the same plan as Friday with a few improvements based on what we learned from our first day. For instance, we have modified our plan for food preparation to include additional school kitchens, so we have even smaller numbers of staff working in the same space thereby further distancing workers from one another.

 

Q: What is the schedule for food service going forward?
A: As of this moment, we are planning to continue food service on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays as previously announced.

 

Q: Is there a food service distribution site on Lummi Nation?
A: Students who live in the Lummi Nation are receiving meals from the Nation. The School District and LIBC are coordinating efforts to ensure everyone who needs this service is receiving it.

 

Q: Who should I call with questions about food service?
A: If a staff member or family has a question about food, they can call this number 360-383-9236.

 

Q: Will Special Education meeting continue during this shutdown?
A: Special education teams plan to continue to conduct initial evaluations, re-evaluations, and IEP meetings during the shutdown to the extent they can do so remotely. They will reach out to families to work out details.

 

I think that’s everything for today. My plan going forward is to write these letters to you on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays -- instead of every day. However, we know how plans go these days! If something important changes, I will be back tomorrow. Otherwise, you will hear from me on Wednesday, March 25, with more information about learning plans and childcare services.

Stay healthy and safe and hug your children for us. We miss them.

Linda

Ferndale Families,

I am writing to you following a telephone meeting with staff from the Lummi Behavioral Health Department. We have been officially notified that a Non-Tribal LIBC employee who tested positive for COVID-19 is a service provider who works in our school buildings on a semi-regular basis.

Here is what I know:

  1. The service provider worked at Ferndale High School, Vista Middle School, and Horizon Middle School during the week of March 9-13.
  2. The service provider worked with individual students.
  3. Staff from Lummi Behavioral Health have contacted each student who is believed to have been in direct contact with this provider during the past 14 days.

The Whatcom County Department of Health is aware of this situation and is not recommending further action at this time. The reason we are contacting you tonight is to emphasize the need for precaution. We know that COVID-19 is in our community and, very likely, in our schools.

If you think you may have been exposed, follow these steps to monitor your health

As a reminder, the symptoms of COVID-19 are: 

  • Fever. 
  • Cough. 
  • Shortness of breath. 

If you have these symptoms and need medical care:

  • You should contact your doctor or healthcare provider. 
  • You may also contact the Washington State Department of Health at (800) 525-0127 and press #. The call center is open 6:00 am-10:00 pm seven days a week.

Now that we have verification that the virus is in our community, we must become even more diligent about taking steps to prevent its spread. Continue to follow these guidelines and encourage others to do so to protect against COVID-19: 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Use a tissue or your elbow to cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. Throw used tissues in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.  
  • Practice social distancing to avoid close contact with other people. 
  • Stay at home and away from others when you are sick.
  • If at all possible, stay at home and away from others even if you don’t think you are sick. (Four out of five people with the virus contracted it from someone who did not know they were sick.)

We will continue to work with the Health Department and communicate with you any additional information or guidance.

As a reminder, we will also continue to provide information and updates here: www.ferndalesd.org/covid-19

Please stay well and take care of the people you love.

All my best,
Linda

Week of March 15 - March 21

Dear Ferndale Families,

This is Day #4 of our COVID-19 shutdown and my sixth daily communication. At this moment, I am not planning to write to you again until Monday (March 23). However, if our current world view makes another major shift before Monday, you will find me back in your email box.

I want to start with good news: We implemented the first day of our food distribution plan today, and it ran well. Our Nutrition Team prepared 1500 meals, which were distributed widely from eight locations throughout the district including Ferndale High School, Central Elementary School, Horizon/Eagleridge Campus, Custer Elementary School, Skyline Elementary School, Cascadia Elementary School, North Bellingham Learning Center, and Beach Elementary School (which is a new site we added to the previously published distribution plan).

I want to give a big shout out to the dedicated food service workers, bus drivers, routers, dispatchers, paraeducators, administrators, and other staff who played a part in making this happen. You can access their story, along with a number of photos, on our website. Find that story here.

Here are responses to several more questions we have heard from you:

Q: What are the dates and times that meals will be distributed next week?
A: Our plan is that food service will continue in the same way it did today on Monday (March 23), Wednesday (March 25), and Friday (March 27) of next week. That means meals will be provided at the eight sites mentioned above from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm.  You can find all of the details here.

Q: Is there any more news about childcare services?
A: We are moving forward with plans to begin offering childcare late next week. We want to thank those of you who completed our Childcare Survey. The results are assisting us in determining our space and staffing needs. Members of the Childcare Team are reaching out to make individual contact with each family who indicated they need this service. So if you receive a call from an unknown number, it may be one of our administrators following up on the survey you submitted.

Q: Is there a date when we can expect to receive learning work for our children?
A: Our plan to support learning remotely requires some special preparation of our website. We are doing that work now so we can begin pushing things out to families beginning Tuesday, March 24.

Q: When we do receive learning work from the district, will our children be required to complete it? Will it be graded?
A: No. Any learning work we offer to you will be intended as a service and your participation is voluntary. We want to support those of you who have asked us to provide materials to reinforce your students’ learning. We do not intend to require you teach new concepts. Rather, we hope the resources we provide will help you keep your students engaged and familiar with learning they have already covered in school.

Q: Are school buildings going to be open on Monday, March 23?
A: No. We decided we need to keep our buildings closed to most staff and all community members for one more day. That means, our buildings will now remain closed through Monday, March 23, to everyone except those employees who have been given explicit authorization to enter certain areas to perform certain essential functions. We hope to be able to provide limited building access beginning Tuesday, March 24.

Q: What will happen if our Governor puts in place an order for everyone to stay home, as has happened in New York and California?
A: We are staying in close communication with health experts and state officials. If the guidance from them changes, we will most likely need to change our plans. Our number one commitment to you is that we will communicate such changes as soon as we know what they are.

 

As I wrap up today’s letter, I want to share a touching poem about Coronavirus penned by Brother Richard Hendrick, a Capuchin Franciscan living in Ireland. It’s called “Lockdown.” Perhaps you’ve seen it. I thought it would be a fitting way to end Week One of our Covid-19 shutdown, so I have reprinted it below.

Have a safe and healthy weekend. I am proud to be a member of this wonderful Ferndale community.

Linda

 

Lockdown

Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.

Yes there is panic buying.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes there is even death.

But,

They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise

you can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

the sky is no longer thick with fumes

but blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi

people are singing to each other

across the empty squares,

keeping their windows open

so that those who are alone

may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland

is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know

is busy spreading fliers with her number

through the neighbourhood

so that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples

are preparing to welcome

and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary.

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting.

All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way.

All over the world people are waking up to a new reality

to how big we really are

to how little control we really have.

to what really matters.

to Love.

So we pray and we remember that

Yes there is fear.

But there does not have to be hate.

Yes there is isolation.

But there does not have to be loneliness.

Yes there is panic buying.

But there does not have to be meanness.

Yes there is sickness.

But there does not have to be disease of the soul.

Yes there is even death.

But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.

Today, breathe.

Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic

the birds are singing again,

the sky is clearing,

spring is coming,

and we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul

and though you may not be able

to touch across the empty square,

Sing.


Dear Ferndale Families,

This is Day #3 of our COVID-19 shutdown.

Yesterday, I told you that today I would report on the progress of the five work groups we have commissioned in the school district to address critical needs during these unprecedented times. Here is a brief summary from each group: 

Nutrition services: The Child Nutrition Department is set to start distributing grab-and-go meals tomorrow, Friday, March 20, at the District’s Elementary Schools, North Bellingham Learning Center, and Ferndale High School. All Ferndale School District students are welcome to pick up meals at the location that is most convenient for them. (They don’t have to go to their regular school.) We will offer both drive-through and foot traffic pick-up. We have established a telephone hotline for those families who aren’t able to make it to one of the distribution centers. If you call this hotline number, we will do our best to deliver meals to you in more remote areas of our district. The hotline phone number is 360-383-9236. Yesterday, I shared our nutrition services distribution plan. You can access the plan here.

Childcare services: At this time the Ferndale School District is moving forward with plans to offer childcare at one of our elementary facilities for children of Health Care Workers and Emergency Responders. Beginning on Thursday, March 26, we expect to be open from 6:45 AM to 7:15 PM, Monday through Friday. Initially we will be able to serve children from 3-years-old through 5th grade. We will work hard to add grades 6 – 8 the following week. If you have not already done so, please help us with our planning by completing our childcare survey here. We will begin contacting families on Monday, March 23, to fill available slots. Check our website for information about other childcare providers. More information will be posted there as it becomes available. 

Meaningful work, continued pay, benefits, and leave provisions for staff: The Meaningful Work Group is developing a plan that (1) protects the health and welfare of all workers using social distancing and remote work opportunities; (2) provides a variety of work opportunities that take into account an element of choice as well as equity between employees and groups; (3) recognizes that there are valuable opportunities for professional development and public service available and; (4) honors the priorities put forth by the state to serve the nutritional needs of our students, provide childcare for essential services, and maintain an educational program during our six-week school closure.

Learning plans: If parents need to focus on one thing, it’s caring for their families and taking care of themselves during this uncertain time. Our first priority is physical and emotional safety of all Ferndale families, then the opportunity for continued learning of our children!
 
Our goal in Teaching and Learning is to develop learning activities to enrich prior learning and engage students during the period of school closure. We are working with our teachers, principals, and members of our technology team to develop resources to support learning and reduce any loss of achievement. Implementing a required, district-wide online or digitally-based learning program is not feasible for our District. Although digitally-based learning is an innovative idea, it has many challenges in practice, specifically in the area of equity. Therefore, we are working to identify and build ways for teachers and students to stay connected around learning throughout this period of closure. In doing so, we will pay attention to the need for equitable access to educational services for all through a blended model. What this means is that, where possible, students and staff may connect digitally but we will always support student learning with hard copies as needed. Please know completing tasks from the activity calendars we will be sending home are optional but encouraged in order to maintain a healthy momentum in learning. Nothing will be graded. Do as much or as little as you wish and keep the communication ongoing between your family and the classroom teacher. We encourage you to reach out using the school email located on each school’s website if you have any questions. Skyward is another effective tool to maintain regular communication. We are a TEAM and a great one!

Communications: The Communications Work Group will continue to provide daily letters to staff and families through March 20. Beginning the week of March 23, we anticipate our updates will be published Monday, Wednesday, and Friday -- although this may change as the situation warrants. Our group is also (1) maintaining open communication channels with partners such as the City of Ferndale, other Whatcom County school districts, and the Lummi Nation; (2) reviewing and distributing guidance from the Health Department, Whatcom County Emergency Management, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the State of Washington, and the Federal Government; (3) facilitating daily meetings with the District’s Administrative Team; and (4) keeping the website updated with relevant resources.

Those are the reports written by the leads from our five work groups. As I have been doing, I also want to share answers to some of the questions we have been receiving:

Q: I am feeling overwhelmed with the idea of homeschooling for my children. Should I be worried my kids are missing something?
A: No. You absolutely do not need to worry about homeschooling your kids right now. You and your families are handling a lot of change and upheaval. We do not want you to add an expectation for homeschooling. Right now, give yourself permission to take some time to do what gives you rest and comfort. Our team is working to assemble resources for families who want online support and/or other learning opportunities. Those resources will be voluntary and are not part of new learning or extended curriculum. Our main goals are to support your student’s prior learning and retention.

Q: Will state testing proceed as usual this year?
A: No. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has cancelled state testing (SBAC) for the 2019-20 school year.

Q: What about my senior? Will he or she still be able to earn the credits needed to graduate in June?
A: Everyone from the Governor level to your student’s classroom teacher is concerned about making sure seniors have the opportunity to meet graduation requirements and earn their diplomas by June. We have been told we can expect more guidance on this topic on Monday, but we feel confident telling you this is a top priority that will be addressed.
 
Q: Are we still planning to return to school on April 27?
A: That is still the directive coming from the state. At this point, you should plan that your children will return to school on April 27 as previously announced. We know there are rumors regarding an extension of that return date. They are only rumors at this point. We have been given no official direction to plan for closure beyond April 24.

Q: Is all of this time off going to be made up in the summer?
A: We don’t think so. Our State Superintendent of Public Instruction has talked about ending the school year on June 19 in all districts. Although that has not yet been made official, he said again in a statewide meeting this morning that it will be nearly impossible to make up all this time. Once an official proclamation has been made, we will let you know. 

Q. Are school personnel still working during the school closure?
A: Yes. School personnel are working. Before this closure, all Ferndale School District personnel reported to physical worksites. Transitioning our entire workforce to remote work and limited in-person service is one of the tasks we are undertaking this week. However, we have been very clear that this school closure does not mean time off for employees unless, of course, they request vacation or sick time. All of our employees must be available for meaningful work during normal working hours beginning next week. This week, our administrators are making contact with all employees to communicate expectations and regular check-ins.

Q: Can you point me to resources for kids who are feeling stressed out about Coronavirus?
A: We are sharing a few online resources including videos for elementary-age students. This can be a scary time for kids, so we suggest trying to create space for them to ask questions and tell you how they are feeling. The links below will lead you to some sites that may be helpful in doing this:

Elementary videos:


Q: I am unable to travel to one of the food distribution sites. Is there a way I my family can get meals if we need them?
A: Our transportation staff will deliver meals to families who need them but may not be able to travel to one of our distribution sites. If you need meals delivered for your student, please call 360-383-9236.

 

That’s our list of responses to questions for today. If you have additional questions, please email them to your child’s principal.

You can expect to hear from me again tomorrow. Stay healthy and hug your kids for us. We miss them.
 
All my best,
 
Linda

Please Note: Included in this letter are links to additional information about Ferndale School District meal distributions, which will begin on Friday, March 20, as well as a school board decision regarding the levy.


Dear Ferndale Families,

This is Day #2 of our COVID-19 Shutdown:

I hope you are all doing well and staying healthy. 

Our entire Administrative Team held its first Zoom meeting this morning. During the meeting, each of the five work groups reported on its progress. As a reminder, those five work groups are focused on (1) nutrition services; (2) childcare services; (3) meaningful work, pay, and benefits for staff; (4) learning plans; and (5) communications.

The Nutrition Services group is ready to begin implementing its plan on Friday, March 20. You can access the plan here.

I will have more to report from the other work groups in tomorrow’s email.

In other news:

  • The School Board met last night via Zoom to talk about options for the levy. Ultimately, they decided to withdraw our levy measure from the April 28 ballot. I wrote you a separate letter earlier today about the reasons for their decision and its ramifications for the district’s planning for 2020-2021, which you can access here.
     
  • I met with Mayor Greg Hansen and City Manager Jori Burnett today to touch bases and commit to coordinating our plans and efforts to the greatest extent possible. I want you to know that the working relationship between the School District and the City of Ferndale is strong, positive, and collaborative. We have the same overarching goal, which is to do everything we can to take care of the residents of the Ferndale community.
     
  • We have been in communication with the Lummi Nation regarding their food service support plan. They are offering meals Monday through Friday through a combination of services ranging from pick-up to delivery. At this time, they do not need assistance from us, but we committed to staying in touch.
     
  • I plan to participate in a state-wide meeting with additional guidance for schools tomorrow (March 19) at 8:30 am.

 

As I have been doing, I want to share with you responses to several of the questions we are being asked most frequently;

Q: Will Ferndale School District buildings be open during the closure?
A: All buildings in the Ferndale School District will be closed during the week of March 16-22 with limited exceptions related to preparation and distribution of food beginning Friday, March 20, and certain essential administrative functions in the District Office. If we are allowed, we will establish and publish consistent hours when our buildings will be accessible to staff and/or community next week, along with appropriate social distancing protocols. Look for more information about accessing buildings in my March 20 letter.
 

Q: When will Food Service begin providing meals and how can I access them?
A: Our food service deliveries will be operational by Friday, March 20. I have attached to this letter the details about when and where you can pick up meals.
 

Q: What should I be doing to homeschool my children?
A: You don’t need to be doing anything right now. Please take this item off your list of things causing you stress. We have absolutely no expectation that parents are taking over the role of the schools at this point. Rather, we want you to consider this week a second, unexpected Spring Break. Do those things you would normally do with your children on a school holiday. By the end of this week, we think we will be able to send you some guidelines for engaging them in some learning activities -- but you are absolutely not in this alone. We imagine you have enough to worry about right now. We also believe it is more important for your children to feel safe and loved than to worry about reading, writing, and math.
 

Our list of questions and answers is short today. You can expect to hear from me again tomorrow with more. In the meantime, please know we are thinking of you.

All my best,

Linda

Dear Ferndale Families,
 
Happy St. Patrick’s Day. As we head into a new normal, I want you to know that our staff cherished the chance to see students one last time yesterday before this closure.
 
And now we are working on what comes next. To that end, we met with our administrative team at 11:00 am today. (We met in the conference room at Mt. View, which is large enough for us to be able to practice appropriate social distancing protocols.)
 
When the administrators met, we broke up into five work groups to continue to make plans. Those five groups focused on (1) nutrition services; (2) childcare services; (3) meaningful work, pay, and benefits for staff; (4) learning plans; and (5) communications. Here is a brief summary of where we landed with each work group:
 
Nutrition services: We are finalizing a plan to begin delivering grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches to students beginning Friday, March 20. We will provide more details about the distribution plan in tomorrow’s communication.

Childcare services: We are exploring our options for providing childcare services in the future. We will share more details by Friday of this week.
 
Meaningful work, continued pay, benefits, and leave provisions for staff:
We know continued pay, benefits, and leave are top of mind issues for staff right now. We don’t yet have a great deal of guidance from the state. We will continue to work with our employee group leaders to figure out answers to all of their questions related to these topics.
 
Learning plans: Although during normal times, teaching and learning are our primary functions, this aspect of our planning is taking a little bit of a backseat to other more urgent concerns. The work group charged with this priority spent time today cataloguing resources, researching strategies being used by other districts, and exploring options. We will send our next update on this priority during the week of March 23.  
 
Communications: We realize that regular communication is going to be key throughout this time that school is closed. To this end, administrators are going to hold regular Zoom meetings at 10:00. We are also going to continue to put out daily emails to our staff and our families.

As I have the last two days, I want to share with you responses to several of the questions we are being asked most frequently;
 
Q: Am I eligible for childcare through the school district? If so, how do I sign up?
A: We are still working on a plan for offering childcare services that meet the social distancing criteria established by the Governor. Getting information from you about your needs will help shape our plan. If you anticipate needing childcare services beyond what you already have in place during the school closure, please help us by completing our childcare survey here.
 

Q: How are staff staying in touch and moving forward with work during this time?
A: Administrators in the Ferndale School District met in person this morning and will begin on Wednesday, March 18, meeting by Zoom on a regular basis. Supervisors will be in contact with employees throughout this week and beyond as work assignments and schedules are determined.
 

Q: Will the school closure impact the levy proposal currently on the ballot for April 28?
A: The Ferndale School Board is considering that very question in a Board meeting this evening which is open to the public and will be held via Zoom. Information regarding how to join that meeting can be found here.
 

Q: What is happening with IEPs during the closure?
A: We are canceling and/or rescheduling IEPs that were originally on the calendar for this week, March 17-20. We anticipate we may be able to hold IEPs via Zoom during the weeks ahead. However, we are awaiting more guidance from the state.
 

Q: Will Ferndale School District buildings be open during the closure?
A: All buildings in the Ferndale School District will be closed during the week of March 16-20 with limited exceptions. One exception is that our food service operations will be using the kitchens in four school buildings. No other areas in those four schools will be open, and none of our other buildings will be open to staff or public through March 20. Another exception is that some transportation, maintenance, and custodial staff may be reporting to work at their supervisors’ requests. A final exception is that a limited number of personnel will be working in the district office this week. We plan to re-evaluate building usage beyond March 20 by Friday.
 

Q: How do I stay informed about COVID-19 and Ferndale School District’s response?
A: Please look for continued updates via email, phone call, and social media. We will also continue to update our Center for COVID-19 Information.
 

Q: When will Food Service begin providing meals?
A: Our goal is to have food service deliveries operational by Friday, March 20. We will send more details to you tomorrow or Thursday.
 
That’s our list of responses to questions for today. You can expect to hear from me again tomorrow.

Please let your children know we are thinking about them, and we will miss seeing them during the break. Take care as we navigate this uncertain time together.
 
All my best,
 
Linda

Dear Ferndale Families,

You probably saw or heard about the Governor’s press conference at 11:15 am today during which he announced new guidelines related to COVID-19. Here is my summary of what was communicated:

  • The Governor has signed a statewide executive order shutting down restaurants, bars, recreational establishments, gyms, beauty salons, and other “non-essential” businesses for two weeks, and perhaps longer.
  • The Governor said today that grocery stores and pharmacies may stay open.
  • He also said school nutrition services and childcare will continue.
  • He strongly recommended a two-week period of self-isolation should be imposed by everyone who is able, although he was not particularly clear about how that aligns with keeping school nutrition and childcare services open in schools.
  • He prohibited meetings of over 50 and called for clear social distancing protocols for smaller meetings.
  • He reminded Washington citizens that today we are focused on the response to COVID-19; but, in the coming weeks, we must also focus on the recovery.
  • He asked that citizens continue to patronize restaurants offering takeout and contribute to the arts. He called on us to play a part in supporting the community to the extent we are able.

As the situation continues to evolve, I am sure you have additional questions. I appreciate those of you who are sharing those questions with us, as it lets us know what additional information you need. Here are the inquiries we have received most recently, along with today’s best answers. (We are all getting used to the fact that tomorrow is a new day, which could bring additional rules or different guidance.)

 

Q: Given the Governor’s updated announcement regarding social distancing, how does the District plan to provide previously announced services including food service and childcare?
A: We are still trying to figure out how we can meet the four priorities we previously shared (nutrition services, childcare services, resources and expectations for staff, and learning plans) at the same time that we are meeting new requirements for social distancing. We are researching what other districts are doing. We are consulting with experts. And we are meeting with union leaders and district administrators tomorrow to engage them in making plans. We will keep you posted.

 

Q: Will staff report to work during the week of March 16?
A: In light of the Governor’s latest information, we have made the decision that we will not be asking some staff to come to work during the week of March 16. Administrators and other employees essential to this response effort will be expected to work. We will be in contact with those who fit that description. (Again, our meetings tomorrow are aimed at figuring out who needs to come in and how we can make sure they do so safely.)

 

Q: When might childcare and special education services be available?
A: Regarding plans for providing childcare and special education services, we are awaiting guidance from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, which we expect to receive on Wednesday of this week (March 18). We will let you know as soon as we do.   

 

Q: If I need childcare, how do I communicate that to the Ferndale School District?
A: The District has developed a survey to assess community needs in this area. If you need childcare, please complete our form so we can consider you as we plan. The form can be accessed here.

 

Q: My child received some assignments from his or her teacher(s) today, but I understood distance learning plans would not be in place until later. Is the work my child received today required?
A: Please know how much our teachers care about students and their learning. Even though we tried to communicate to staff on Friday that they were not expected to spend their weekend putting together learning work to send home today, some of them did so anyway -- out of an abundance of care for your child. Any assignments your student may have received today (Monday, March 16) were provided as a service by caring teachers. We do not intend them to be one more cause for stress in your family. Students will not be penalized if the work is not done at this time. In the future, we may be providing your child with schoolwork that we do expect him or her to complete, especially at the high school level where earning credits toward graduation is a significant consideration.

 

Q: My student is a senior in high school this year. What plans are being made to ensure seniors are not negatively impacted by this school closure?
A: Taking care of seniors is one of our highest priorities and also one of the highest priorities of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. We will be working with the State to figure out how seniors can finish the school year and earn the credits they need to earn their diplomas. We are committed to doing everything we can to keep this emergency from impacting graduation or post-high-school plans.

 

Q: If I have an urgent school-related inquiry during the closure, who do I contact?
A: Since we aren’t sure yet when our school offices will reopen, we have set up an emergency phone line for this purpose. The number is 360-305-3045. We will work to ensure someone gets back to you within 12 hours. 

 

Q: When can we expect to hear from the District again?
A: As I mentioned in my memo yesterday, we will continue to provide you with a daily update through the end of this week. As quickly as information is changing, we feel this is the only way to keep you abreast of the latest developments. Please know you can also email me directly if you have a question we haven’t yet answered. If I don’t get back to you personally, I will include your question in my next update. 

 

Take care of yourselves and one another during these crazy times. Thank you for being such good partners. I will write to you again tomorrow.

Linda 

Dear Ferndale Families,

We are writing to you today to answer questions and provide you the information you will need to navigate during an unprecedented six-week school closure in Ferndale and across the State of Washington.

Before I launch into some of the questions and answers, I just want to tell you how sorry I am that this is happening, especially since I know the negative impacts our situation is having on many of you. Our goals as a district include the following:

1.    Protecting the health and safety of our students and staff by following closely the guidance of the Health Department and other experts.

2.    Continuing to the best of our ability to provide services to the families and community that count on us.

3.    Coming together to become the strongest, most positive team we possibly can in order to meet the challenges we currently face.

Here are answers to some of the questions we have been hearing:

Q: Why is the Ferndale School District open on Monday, March 16?

A: The District made this decision in consultation with the Whatcom County Health Department. The Department recommended that we close schools starting Tuesday March 17 as a preventative measure. It is important to note that the closure was not recommended in response to positive cases in the Ferndale School District.

Our planned closure aligns with Governor Inslee’s Executive Order for all schools in Washington State. Holding school on Monday, March 16, will give students a chance to say good-bye to friends and teachers and gather belongings, medicine and other materials they may need during the closure. It will also give families one more day for making their own plans.

Q: Can I choose to keep my student home on Monday, March 16?

A: Yes. Student absences will be excused on Monday, March 16. We want families to choose what is best for their individual circumstances. As always, if your students are feeling sick, please keep them home.

Q: Will my student receive assignments or learning materials to work on during the closure?

A: No. This closure happened quickly, and teachers have not had adequate time to prepare material for a six-week absence. We will follow up with information and resources for your student while they are away from school.

Q: What does the school closure mean for athletics and activities?

A: When school is closed, we also suspend all school sponsored extracurricular activities. If this policy changes in the future, we will let you know. However, we do not expect any changes during the upcoming week.  

Q: When will the Ferndale School District communicate next?

A: We are committing to sending daily updates starting Sunday, March 15 through Friday, March 20. Our goal next week will be to share information and updates as we make decisions about food service, childcare and available resources to support student learning. After March 20, we will send updates whenever we have additional information to share.

Q: When can we expect services like childcare and food service to begin?

A: Our first priority is food service. We expect to have food service available no later than Monday, March 23 -- and earlier than that if at all possible. We also expect to be able to start providing childcare services sometime during the week of March 23.

Q: I will need childcare during the school closure. How can I communicate that to the School District?

A: The District plans to send a separate childcare survey to families tomorrow (March 16) to measure community needs for childcare. This information will help the District plan for staffing and facilities.

Q: Where should I go for additional information now and throughout the closure period?

A: The Ferndale School District is regularly updating our website with information and resources. We will continue to update information: www.ferndalesd.org/covid-19

Thank you in advance for your flexibility and patience. We are committed to serving you during these unprecedented times. As always, feel free to reach out with your questions or suggestions.

Take care,

Linda

Week of March 8 - March 14

The following is (1) a media release regarding school closure announcement followed by (2) a letter sent from Ferndale School District Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn to families.


Media Release

View in Spanish (Ver en español)

Whatcom County public schools to close no later than March 17 through April 24 due to COVID-19 

(Governor Inslee has now mandated that all K-12 Schools in Washington close. The Ferndale School District had planned to announce closure which is communicated below.)

Ferndale, WA. In coordination with the Whatcom County Health Department, Whatcom County superintendents have decided to close public school districts in Whatcom County no later than Tuesday, March 17 through at least Friday, April 24. The Ferndale School District will be open March 16. As a reminder, when school is cancelled, all athletics and activities are cancelled.

This decision followed an announcement yesterday from Washington state Governor Jay Inslee (video link / statement) to close school districts in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties from March 17 through April 24. Governor Inslee also said other closures may follow in other parts of the state. 

Our local superintendents, following advice from local health officials, decided to close schools to be proactive. Lynden, Mount Baker, Nooksack Valley, Ferndale, Bellingham, Blaine and Meridian school districts will be closed beginning no later than next Tuesday, March 17 through at least April 24, 2020. 

Whatcom County public schools know that the past few weeks have been stressful for many in our communities because of the continued spread of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. We are grateful to all our staff and families for navigating this situation alongside our school districts. 

Each district will use their typical lines of communication to inform families and community of plans for Monday and beyond.  

We expect to receive further guidance from state officials regarding this decision in the coming days and will provide updates as soon as we are able. 

We want to assure the community that this is not a decision we have made lightly or without considerable thought and consideration. As superintendents, we regularly make challenging decisions and this has been the most difficult in any of our careers. We recognize and understand the impact this will have on our families, particularly those who are most vulnerable.   

As Governor Inslee and Superintendent Reykdal charged school districts to do, we are working on learning plans, childcare, and nutritional services. Additional information will be coming to each school district’s staff and families in the coming days. We will share this information via email, as well as posting on school websites and social media channels as applicable. 


Letter to Families

Ferndale Families, 

I have been using this phrase a lot lately: “These are unprecedented times.” 

Rising to the occasion in a time of public health concern sometimes requires bold action. That is what I am announcing to you today.

The Whatcom County Health Department has recommended that all schools in Whatcom County close no later than Tuesday, March 17, and extending through Friday, April 24. The Ferndale School District will be open on Monday, March 16. As a reminder, when school is cancelled, all athletics and activities are also cancelled. The recommendation is not a response to specific cases in Ferndale. The recommendation has been made because closing schools now will significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Although children are not likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19, they can spread it to others who are at high risk.

Although our schools will not operate normally for the next six weeks, we are committed to finding meaningful ways to serve our students, staff, and community during this closure. Consistent with what the Governor asked of us yesterday, we will be developing plans in four areas: 

1. Food Service. We will continue to offer food service to students and families who need this assistance. We will announce a start date for this service next week.

2. Childcare. When Governor Inslee announced closures in King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties, he also asked that schools take responsibility for providing childcare services, at a minimum, for first-responders, healthcare workers, and other essential service personnel. We agree that this is a community obligation, and we are working to put together a plan to provide childcare in Ferndale while our schools are closed. We will announce a start date for this service next week.

3. Resources and Expectations for Staff. We are working hard to answer questions related to leave, pay, and work assignments during the time we are closed. We will share information as we have it regarding expectations for staff during closure.

4. Learning Plans. We do not want our students to go home for six weeks without guidance or resources. We will be meeting with staff next week to come up with a plan for how we continue to reach our students during this time. We will make further announcements after we have time for planning next week. 

Thank you for your patience and grace in this uncharted territory known as COVID19. You can continue to expect regular updates from me. 

All My Best,

 

Linda Quinn

Superintendent

Ferndale School District

View Letter in Spanish (Ver carta en español)

March 11, 2020

Dear Ferndale Families and Staff,

I am reaching out today to share the latest information regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus) as it relates to our schools.

This morning Governor Jay Inslee’s provided a briefing on COVID-19, which included guidance on ways to slow the spread of this virus. One of those ways is to take steps to reduce social interactions.

The Governor and the Health Department are asking our Whatcom County schools to stay open for now. However, they are also asking all school districts to begin contingency planning, which we have already been doing and will continue to do. Please know we are readying ourselves for the possibility of closing school in the future.

Schools serve several important functions in our community. In addition to educating students, they are key to meeting basic needs like nutrition and care for many young people. We know many families count on us to keep their children safe during the day so they can report to their jobs. We also know a number of our parents work as healthcare professionals. We do not want our parents to have to choose between reporting to their jobs -- especially those who are critical to the healthcare system -- or caring for their children. Our bottom line is this: We want to provide as much support to families as possible at the same time that we are doing everything we can to keep our staff and students safe.

Here are the actions we are already taking: 

  • We continue to refine our contingency plans for the possibility that we will need to close our schools in the future. 
  • We have updated our directives for increasing social distancing, which will result in canceling a number of non-essential meetings and events in our schools. (See below the agreements about this topic made by the seven Whatcom County Public School District Superintendents in a face-to-face meeting this afternoon.*)
  • We continue to encourage staff and students to stay home when they are sick.
  • We continue to take extra care in our schools and workplaces to follow the CDC’s best advice for cleaning, hand washing, and other personal hygiene.

*Guidelines for Non-Essential Meeting and Events in Our Schools
Effective Thursday, March 12, through Sunday, April 12

Governor Jay Inslee has asked all businesses and school districts to reconsider large gatherings and encourage social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. In response, the seven Whatcom County Public School District Superintendents decided the following:

We will cancel or postpone:

  • Large gatherings outside of school hours that include both adults and students, such as concerts and guest speakers.
  • Large gatherings during school hours, such as assemblies.
  • In-door athletic contests.
  • Out-of-state travel for student groups (strongly advised).

We will continue with the following types of events, unless the organizing group or hosting school chooses to cancel or postpone:

  • Small gatherings of staff, such as staff, grade level, and department meetings. (When possible, we encourage moving adult meetings online.)
  • Small school-based gatherings that primarily include students and staff, such as after-school activities and clubs and YMCA child care.
  • Typical local field trips, such as fifth grade camp and academic competitions.
  • Athletic practices and outdoor contests, unless the organizing group or hosting school chooses to cancel or postpone. Large competitions, games, matches, meets, and contests may be affected.

We support our families’ ability to make the choices they feel are best for them and their children. We appreciate your grace and patience as we navigate these difficult decisions together.
 


You have undoubtedly heard about school district closures in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, where there are more confirmed cases. You have probably also heard about cancellations of in-person classes at local higher education institutions like Western Washington University and Bellingham Technical College. Please remember that our context in the Ferndale School District is different. The kinds of measures colleges can implement will not easily work with preK-12 students. I want to repeat that, at this time, the Governor and the Health Department are still asking us to remain open to serve our families.

You can find updates to our COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions page for families and staff, which includes responses to inquiries such as:   

  • Q: Do any Ferndale students or staff have the Novel Coronavirus-(COVID-19)?
    • A: At this time, no students or staff are known to have the coronavirus.
  • Q: How is the Ferndale School District preparing for the possibility of the widespread illness?
    • A: We are developing contingency plans so we are ready to respond if widespread illness causes greater impacts. These plans include responses to significant staff absences, school closures, or other circumstances that affect our ability to operate school as usual. We are hopeful that we will not have to operationalize these plans, but it is critical to be prepared.
  • Q: Will Ferndale School District cancel school?
    • A: We follow guidance from the Whatcom County Department of Health and the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) on school closures. We currently have no schools where a case of COVID-19 has been identified. If that changes and health authorities recommend a school closure, we will follow that guidance.

Please make sure you are taking care of yourself and your loved ones. Governor Inslee reminded us this morning that we are all leaders who can take individual steps to help each other. I thank those of you who have taken the time to share suggestions and messages of support. They are much appreciated. 

Sincerely, 
Linda Quinn, Superintendent
Ferndale School District

March 9, 2020

Dear Ferndale Families and Staff,
 
I am reaching out to update you regarding the Coronavirus situation, which remains a major topic of conversation and concern in our state, nation, and world. Our District leaders have been monitoring developments across our state to determine appropriate next steps for the Ferndale School District.
 
I want to assure you that we are making informed decisions for our schools, and we are continuing to update our website with the most current facts, data, and guidance from the experts. Over the weekend, we added more information about school activities and field trips, e-learning, and the possibility of school closures. You can access that information here.
 
Currently, the Whatcom County Health Department, Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control are not recommending school closures, as long as we are able to maintain appropriate supervision and adequate services. We will continue to collaborate with these health organizations, because the safety of our students, staff, and families remains our top priority.
  
You may hear that health authorities are recommending people avoid groups of more than 50 people, yet they are not advising school closures in general. This guidance may seem confusing because schools bring together large groups of children. However, in the case of schools, health authorities note that closures have significant negative impacts on communities, such as:

  • Closing schools may not be effective because some children may congregate anyway at other locations. 
  • Many parents, such as healthcare workers, need to be report to their jobs. If these critical workers stay home with children, the impacts on the healthcare system and other institutions essential for our community may be significant. 
  • If schools close, some children may have to stay home with alternative caregivers, such as elders, who are more vulnerable to the virus.
  • Some children count on our schools to provide them with healthy meals. 


We are still considering whether to cancel afterschool activities and events. In consulting with other Whatcom County School Districts, we have learned that wholesale cancelations are not occurring. Rather, instances are being reviewed on a case-by-case basis. 

We have received several phone calls about possible connections to a person with Coronavirus. We share each of these reports with the Health Department so they can investigate and provide us with guidance. At this time, there still have been no positive Coronavirus cases reported in Whatcom County.

At the same time, we know that some children and staff may be at higher risk for severe illness because of underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems. The Washington State Department of Health advises that those people consult with their healthcare provider to decide the best course of action.

I thank those of you who have reached out with messages of support and care for our hardworking staff. As always, please feel to contact us if you have additional questions or suggestions. 

If anything should change, we will communicate with you in the same manner we do for inclement weather. Please take a moment to make sure you have updated your family’s communication preferences in Skyward Family Access. If you do not have your current login, please contact your student’s school to update information. 

All my best during these challenging times,

Linda Quinn, Superintendent
Ferndale School District

Week of March 1 - March 7

March 3, 2020

Dear Ferndale Families and Staff,
 
When I wrote to you yesterday (March 2) about the Coronavirus, I shared that several of our staff members would be attending a special county-wide Health Department briefing, and that I expected they would return with news about updated plans and protocols. Here is the information they brought back from the briefing:

How is the Coronavirus spread?
The virus is most commonly spread person-to-person via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can be inhaled and infect the receiving person, similar to the way flu and other respiratory illnesses are spread. 
 
Who should seek medical evaluation for Coronavirus?
Students, staff, and volunteers:

  • Who are ill with a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing AND who have traveled from China within the last 14 days.
  • Who are ill with a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing AND who have been identified by the public health officials as a recent close contact of a confirmed Coronavirus case or had recent close contact with someone who is being evaluated for Coronavirus infection.

What are preventative measures individuals can take?

  • Stay home when sick.
  • Avoid close contact with others who are sick.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after eating, and after blowing one’s nose. ·        
  • Avoid touching mouth, nose, and eyes when hands are dirty or unwashed.
  • Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then immediately discard the tissue and wash hands.

What are preventative measures the School District can take?

  • Share “Preventative Measures for Individuals” with all members of the school community.
  • Maintain open and regular lines of communication with appropriate government agencies and officials -- and follow their guidance.
  • Maintain a rigorous sanitation plan for classrooms, schools, and school buses that includes regular disinfecting of major surfaces.
  • Create a plan for the District and/or individual school(s) in the event of a major Coronavirus event. If such an event does occur, the District will make all decisions about closing schools in consultation with the Health Department. Information will then be communicated to students, parents/guardians, and others via the District website, social media channels, and all-call system.

Where can I get the most up-to-date information?
Consult the following websites for further information:

In the Ferndale School District, we are taking this concern very seriously. We will continue to keep you updated, keep our schools sanitized, and make the best decisions possible in collaboration with the Whatcom County Health Department.

As always, feel free to reach out if you have questions we have not answered.

Sincerely,

Linda Quinn, Superintendent
Ferndale School District

March 2, 2020

Dear Ferndale Families and Staff,

When I wrote to you last Friday (February 28) about the Coronavirus, I indicated that the situation was evolving and likely to change. Within hours of sending that message, we received news of the first confirmed cases in Washington State. Since then, more cases have been diagnosed or suspected, but none yet in Whatcom County.

Please know we are coordinating with the Whatcom County Health Department and Whatcom Emergency Management as we craft plans to address the Coronavirus in the Ferndale School District. Now, as in past situations involving communicable diseases, our practice is to follow all recommendations and guidance from these expert partners.

Several members of our staff are attending a special Health Department briefing this afternoon (March 2), and I expect they may have updated plans and protocols by tomorrow. As this situation evolves, we will continue to communicate with our staff, families, and community.
        
We encourage students and staff to stay home if they are not feeling well. As always, the best way to minimize the spread of any communicable disease is to wash hands regularly with soap and water.

We have updated our district webpage with links to resources that answer commonly asked questions regarding the Coronavirus and related health protocols. You can find that information at https://www.ferndalesd.org/. Another one of our partners, Northwest Educational Service District 189, which provides services to 35 school districts in our region, has also created a webpage with information and links about the ongoing Coronavirus situation. 

Our goal is to provide you with as much information as we can as soon as we have it. Feel free to reach out if you have questions we have not answered.

Sincerely,
Linda Quinn, Superintendent
Ferndale School District

Week of February 23 - February 29

February 28, 2020

Dear Ferndale Families and Staff,

Over the past several weeks, we have seen increasing news coverage about the evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation around the world. Understandably, we have received questions from staff and families regarding the potential impact to Ferndale schools.

First, I want you to know that we have been receiving regular updates from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Educational Service District 189 regarding response to a potential exposure to the Coronavirus. These state agencies have done a great job of coordinating with federal agencies to share information as it has become available.

Currently, the Washington State Department of Health reports the risk of exposure to Coronavirus (COVID-19) is low. There is no evidence that COVID-19 is spreading in Washington State at this time, according to a report you can access at this address: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus. To date, there have been no reports of persons affected with the Coronavirus in Whatcom County.

As with any emerging communicable disease, we know this situation may change. For that reason, we are committed to staying in close communication with Health Department experts and following all of their recommendations. 

I want to state directly that the risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has no connection to race, ethnicity, or nationality. Perpetuating stigmas is inappropriate. Furthermore, it will do nothing to help our current situation. Staying informed is the most effective course of action at this time.

Everyday precautions -- like diligent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, remaining home if feeling ill, and staying up-to-date with immunizations -- will help keep our community healthy.

I want to reiterate that we have not had any major Coronavirus related impacts in our schools. We are, however, taking this situation very seriously. Please be assured we are committed to staying informed, communicating with you as the situation progresses, and doing everything we can to keep our kids healthy and safe. 

We have updated our webpage with links to resources that answer commonly asked questions regarding the Coronavirus and related health protocols. You can find that information at https://www.ferndalesd.org/

Sincerely,

Linda Quinn, Superintendent

Ferndale School District

Meaningful Work for Employees

We are working to provide home based remote learning options to classified staff as part of the overall district effort to create meaningful work opportunities for all employees.

Classified Professional Development Options

Meal Distribution Information

Ferndale School District meal distributions will begin on Friday, March 20. Please see the following information for locations, times and additional details.

Meal Distribution Information in English 

Meal Distribution Information in Spanish (Plan de distribución para desayunos y lonches escolares) 

Meal Distribution Information in Russian (План распределения еды) 
 

Meal Distribution Pick-Up Location Map 

Childcare Interest Survey Form

The District has developed a survey to assess community needs in this area. If you need childcare, please complete our form so we can consider you as we plan.

Complete Childcare Form

Concern or question?

Student and staff safety is our top priority. If you have a question, concern or comment about any health or safety issue, please let us know.

Ask here

Dr. Paul Douglas

Executive Director for Student Services

Additional resources

Provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention