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As many of you unfortunately are aware, a scam involving fraudulent unemployment claims is running rampant through Washington State. This scam has already impacted over a hundred of our Ferndale School District employees. Our Human Resources Department is reaching out to those employees who have been impacted to help them resolve the situation. And, of course, law enforcement is involved at the state and federal levels.
Because awareness of this scam could be important for everyone, I want to share a bit of additional information with our community.
A fraudulent filing indicates that an unknown third party likely has access to one or more elements of someone’s personal information (name, employer, social security number, etc.). As the current situation proves, this information in the wrong hands can be used for purposes of identity theft. Anyone who suspects they have been subject to identity theft should contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies for further assistance. They are as follows:
One of the ways that this fraud is happening is through State of Washington, Secure Access Washington (SAW) accounts. If you have a SAW account, you can check to see if your account is secure by following these steps:
1. Navigate to https://secure.esd.wa.gov/home/
2. Login with your SAW information. Many state functions including license renewal use these accounts, so it is very likely you are already registered.
3. Once you’re in, follow the links to apply for unemployment. You’re not actually going to apply. The first step is identity verification. Fill out the requested information.
4. This is where you should pay special attention. If your information is tied to an email address that is not yours, you may be a victim of fraud.
5. If you find that you are the victim of fraud, go to ESD’s fraud page and report it. https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment/unemployment-benefits-fraud
**Many thanks to Ferndale resident Sara O’Connor for sharing the information provided in these steps**
Additional resources are available at this link:
As you know, last week we sent out a survey to gather information about how people are coping with this new reality and how we might improve our services. We administered a staff survey, a 6-12 student survey, and a family survey -- and I (Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn) am pleased to report that we received a fairly large number of responses. To be exact, we received 437 completed surveys from staff, 587 from students in grades 6-12, and 732 from families.
Currently, we are in the process of collating and analyzing the survey results. Once we have done so, we plan to share a summary with all of you, along with some ideas about how we will use the information to make changes in the way we are doing things.
For two reasons, we are not going to be running our full slate of summer school programs this year. The first reason is that some version of physical distancing will still be in place during the summer, and we don’t believe additional online learning and/or packets are going to address the needs of those students who generally attend summer school. The second reason is that, due to the levy failure, we are doing everything we can to reduce expenditures. Every dollar we can save now will help us maintain programs later.
The only two Summer School programs we are going to offer this summer are:
The answer is yes. We are continuing to make progress on the projects included in the bond package Ferndale voters approved in February 2019.
Bond funds are completely separate from school district operating funds, which include levy dollars. We are not allowed to use bond funds to backfill any loss of funding created by the levy failure -- even if we wanted to. We are committed to using bond funds in the way our community intended them to be used.
With that said, I (Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn) am pleased to report our bond projects are proceeding on budget and on schedule. I have been documenting our progress in weekly Bond Updates since shortly after the ballot measure was approved. In fact, I sent my 61st Friday progress report earlier today. If you are not currently subscribing to the weekly emails, you can do so at the following link: Subscribe Now.
OSPI stands for Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Led by Superintendent Chris Reykdal, OSPI is the primary agency charged with overseeing public K–12 education in Washington state. Working with the state's 295 public school districts and six state-tribal education compact schools, OSPI allocates funding and provides tools, resources, and technical assistance so every student in Washington is provided a high-quality public education. OSPI is housed in the Old Capitol Building in Olympia.
Since the onset of the pandemic, OSPI has established a special section of its website to house Covid-19 Guidance and Resources, which you can access here:
At elementary and middle schools, our principals developed a schedule for teachers and paraeducators to come in this week, bag students’ belongings, tag each bag with a student’s name, and arrange all the bags in the gym or another large area within their school.
Next week, elementary and middle school parents will have four times when they can come to the school to pick up their children’s bags. Principals will arrange to have staff runners on hand during these hours to go into the building, retrieve the bags, and deliver them to parents’ cars. The four pick-up times are as follows:
We will do our best to deliver any belongings that are not picked up during one of these four times.
The high school administration will be publishing a schedule for their students to pick up personal items after May 26.
We definitely want to hear your feedback. For this purpose, we developed a confidential survey that asks you to tell us how you are doing and how the school district might be able to better support you. These surveys represent our way of checking in at the halfway point between the first day our school buildings were closed (March 17) and the last day of the 2019-2020 school year (June 19). In addition to sending the surveys electronically earlier this week, we have also had them available in hard copy, in several languages, at our learning packet distribution sites.
If you haven’t already taken the survey, here is the link to the online version: https://surveys.panoramaed.com/ferndale/communitysurvey
Note: If you are prompted to enter an access code, please use: "communitysurvey"
If you would prefer a hard copy survey, you can still get one at your school’s learning packet distribution site on Monday, May 18.
Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts (anonymously).
This is a story that I (Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn) absolutely delight in telling you. A dedicated group of Ferndale School District staff has been making cloth face masks for people in our community since shortly after our school buildings were closed. On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, they distributed hundreds of free masks to District staff, families, and community members from the FHS parking lot.
Several great partnerships have grown out of these mask making efforts. Bellingham Makerspace donated the elastic to the team, as well as providing them with sewing machines. Recently, the fire fighters from Station 41 on Washington Street donated $500 for mask materials. In exchange, our mask makers are supplying masks for the firefighters to fill the community pick-up box they’ve placed outside their station, as well as for them to give away anytime they go out on a call.
If any of you like to sew and have some extra time, the mask-making team would love to have you join them. They will provide you with "kits" that have enough precut fabric and elastic to make 10 masks. Every Sunday or Monday you will get a delivery of as many of these kits as you request. Then the following week, your finished masks will be picked up and more kits will be delivered. I want to thank the dedicated Ferndale School District paraeducators who have been working on this project.
A: Last week (May 4-8) was the first week we asked all of our teachers to start recording engagement with students and families in Skyward in order to comply with the state’s new attendance taking requirements. (Note: Engagement for attendance purposes does not necessarily mean students are successfully completing their schoolwork, only that they are still connecting with us and remain part of our school community.) These student engagement/attendance records will be reported to the state.
A team of administrators and staff at Ferndale High School are continuing to work with seniors and parents to develop the best way(s) to honor the achievements of the Class of 2020 in our new physically-distanced world.
The state has recently come out with guidance allowing that, as in the past, senior students may be dismissed five days before the last day of school for everyone else. Therefore, Friday, June 12, will be the final school day for the members of the Class of 2020. That evening, we are planning (in conjunction with the City and the Police Department) Some kind of Senior Parade.
Commencement itself will occur on Saturday, June 13, in one of two formats -- either (1) a virtual ceremony produced with help from Jostens or (2) a modified in-person ceremony with students arriving in cars (one student and family per car) to a designated area on the campus to pick up their diploma. The high school administration put out a survey this week to allow students to vote on which of these two options they prefer.
The high school staff is also working on virtual versions of scholarship night and the School Board’s traditional honoring of outstanding seniors in each discipline.
Let me start by saying this: Levies fund sports and activities in almost all school districts in Washington state. That is one of the reasons that we have levies. We recognize the positive impact sports and activities have on kids, and we, as citizens of a given district, decide together to make up the difference between state funding and local need. That is the reality of school funding in Washington.
That leaves us in a tough spot here in Ferndale. You are probably familiar with the vast body of research regarding the influence of sports and activities on students. It is very clear that without these opportunities, students suffer. As you also know, Ferndale did not pass the school district’s replacement levy last February. In addition to almost one hundred district staff members who are losing their jobs, one of the casualties of our levy failure should be athletics and activities for students. I (Superintendent Dr, Linda Quinn) say, “should” because without the levy, we do not have money earmarked for these activities.
What I am sharing with you today is that we have made a decision to save a version of our athletics and activities programs in Ferndale next year. The cost to students is too high to consider doing otherwise and, ultimately, that cost would have been born by students who are already navigating the challenging waters of a global pandemic.
We are still developing the details of our funding plan for athletics and activities, but we know it will involve the following elements:
We are committing to athletics and activities for the 2020-2021 school year. However, we do not believe our plan is sustainable beyond that time period unless the levy passes in November. We will follow up with more specific details as they become available.
We definitely want to hear your feedback. Therefore, I (Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn) am pleased to share a link to a confidential survey that asks you to tell us how you are doing and how the school district might be able to better support you. These surveys represent our way of checking in at the halfway point between the first day our school buildings were closed (March 17) and the last day of the 2019-2020 school year (June 19). In addition to sending the surveys electronically, we will also have them available in hard copy, in several languages, at our learning packet distribution sites. I thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts (anonymously).
Here is the link to our survey: https://surveys.panoramaed.com/ferndale/communitysurvey|
Note: If you are prompted to enter an access code, please use: "communitysurvey"
We have received several inquiries about getting personal items out of our classrooms and schools. Our team has developed a plan for this, which is being implemented first at the elementary level. Staff members will place your child’s belongings in a labeled bag that you will be able to pick up at the school during a specific time period. You should hear from your building principals shortly about the specific timeline for your school. Thank you for your patience.
I (Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn) committed to publishing an answer on this topic by May 15, and we will meet that commitment. Several members of our team have been working on a plan for funding athletics and activities through a combination of (1) savings realized by not running spring sports, (2) pay-to-play fees for families that can afford them, (3) volunteer help where we can get it, (4) donations, and (5) any other creative ideas they can come up with. We intend to be able to put out something more definitive by the end of next week.
We know transitions are important -- elementary to middle school and middle school to high school -- and we try to do as much as we can to ease them for students. In normal times, we provide support in the form of building visits, open houses, and other individual in-person guidance. This year, many of those traditional options are not available. Therefore, we are figuring out how we can create alternatives. The most important thing for you to know at this point is that you and your child have not missed anything related to one of these important transitions. We will follow up with more information during the next few weeks.
Food service will be preparing and distributing triple meals on Friday, May 22, for the Memorial Day weekend. We will not be distributing food on Memorial Day (Monday, May 25). (Triple meals means lunch for Friday, breakfast and lunch for Monday and Tuesday, and breakfast for Wednesday -- a total of six meals.)
In Whatcom County, we know Bellingham and Mt. Baker School Districts have adopted the same A/I plan we will use in Ferndale. We are also aware that Seattle and Bellevue School Districts have decided to implement the A/I grading model. While we don’t yet have a complete list of all districts that have adopted this model, the five districts mentioned here represent great diversity -- from Seattle to Mt. Baker -- and over 10% of all of Washington’s students.
We have heard from some who believe this A/I grading system flies in the face of the principle that hard work should reap rewards, and students will be learning the wrong lesson if we don’t somehow punish them for not doing their schoolwork well enough during this global pandemic. The truth is that we have no way to assess who is working hard right now.
Some of our kids are working hard to overcome internet access issues. Some are being expected to provide childcare for younger siblings so their parents can work. Some have become errand-runners for family members with compromised immune systems. Some have taken jobs to help pay rent and utilities. Some are homeless. And our hearts go out to them.
On the other hand, some of our students have the luxury of working hard on their learning packets in a warm home, in a quiet and comfortable setting, on their own laptop, with good internet access and parents to support them. And we are glad for them.
We realize these kinds of inequities are always with us to some extent. However, when in-person school is in session, our staff is able to spend six hours a day working with students to try to close some of the gaps. Our current distance learning model, with all its challenges, cannot address inequities nearly enough. Exacerbating the gaps even further with punishing grades doesn’t feel right. The most loving and equitable thing we can do during this remote learning period is give them all “A” grades if they engage to the extent they are able.
In short, we do not believe the harm caused to high-performing students by not having differentiated grades for one semester can outweigh the potential harm a traditional grading system could have on students who have been thrust into extremely challenging life situations through no fault of their own.
We believe all of our students are learning new lessons about real-life struggles of survival as they deal with a crisis none of us has ever experienced. We know some of them are necessarily engaged in activities that are more important for them right now than academic work -- and they are learning from these activities.
We have communicated to our students that we expect them to remain engaged in learning activities assigned by their teachers to the greatest extent possible. With that said, we know we are asking them to learn in new ways under new conditions. Therefore, we want to give them the space and grace to focus on doing their schoolwork with whatever capacity they have -- rather than stressing about letter grades during this global pandemic.
We hope parents and guardians will join us in encouraging their children to continue to do the right thing and the best schoolwork they are capable of doing, regardless of whether that work is being graded in a traditional way. And for those top-performing students who end up with extra time on their hands, we hope parents and guardians will join us in encouraging them to take up a new hobby or learn something new on their own.
We have communicated to our teachers that we expect them to create lessons and assignments aligned to the most essential learning standards for each course they teach. We expect them to provide feedback to students aimed at promoting progress and engagement. We expect them to communicate with students and/or families about the student’s educational growth and development to the extent feasible. So far we have evidence that the vast majority of our teachers are meeting these expectations. We have no reason to believe that will change because of our grading decision.
While we expect our teachers to provide feedback to students, we also know their ability to grade them fairly is impossible in our current situation. For those students who have to rely on hard copy learning packets, teachers may not be able to get formative feedback to them for several weeks -- something we know is not best practice and we would never condone during in-person school. For those students who are submitting their work online, teachers can’t truly know who is doing the work. As one of our teachers stated, “If we were to use differentiated letter grades at this time, all we would be grading is privilege, access, and support.”
We can’t possibly know each student’s pandemic experience. There is a chance that a C, D, or even an F will be deserved. There is also a chance that such a grade will be one more obstacle for a student who is battling to overcome unimaginable odds.
Students who were receiving a grade lower than an “A” when our buildings closed lost all opportunities to have their playing field leveled by the kinds of interventions we provide in an in-person school setting. They no longer have teachers at their sides to provide encouragement and just-in-time feedback. They have lost most of their access to after-school study, academic coaching, tutoring, and the help of intervention specialists.
Giving every student an “A” neutralizes complex inequities, ensuring none of them is harmed academically for being forced into this pandemic. It assures every student that we see them and that we acknowledge they have experienced a school year unlike any other in our lifetimes.
The bottom line is this: We feel all right about giving a student an “A” grade who may never have gotten one before. Now, more than any time in the past, we believe we can best serve our students by offering them hope.
Perhaps it is. However, we don’t think it is unlike the loans the government is giving businesses, or the $1200 economic impact checks they are sending individuals to help them deal with this crisis. Our students have also encountered a crisis, and we are providing them with a stimulus grading plan. We want to give hope to some of them who need it most. If the “A” grades they earn this semester inspire them to work harder to earn more “A”s when grading returns to normal, we will all be delighted.
Colleges will know this semester’s grades were not earned under regular conditions. There will be a designation on students’ transcripts to indicate that a course was taken during a period of school facility closure due to the Covid-19 emergency. In addition, there will be an indication if required credits associated with a specific course were waived under the State Board of Education emergency rules for the Class of 2020.
We do not believe the post-high-school educational system will be significantly impacted by our giving everyone who has engaged an “A” grade this one time -- especially since high school transcripts will reflect the unique circumstances and every university in the world will be aware of the situation.
For some college-bound students, this could become a great time to discover a new interest, develop a new hobby, learn a new skill, or find a way to provide community service -- all of which are excellent ways to show colleges they are well-rounded learners who would be good choices for their institutions.
Incompletes are reserved for students who cannot or will not engage in the learning activities we provide. We intend that Incompletes will be the exception rather than the rule, especially since we realize we are going to have to help many of our students get caught up when they return to in-person learning.
According to the state’s expectations, when students do receive Incompletes, teachers will work with them and their parents/guardians to provide opportunities for re-engaging with the learning and changing those Incompletes into letter grades. When this has been accomplished, the Incompletes will be updated on students’ transcripts.
The state’s rules allow students to resolve their Incompletes any time before they graduate from high school.
As I (Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn) mentioned in one of my previous letters, we recently asked all our secondary teachers to begin using the Canvas learning management platform to send instruction and receive assignments from their students. Over half of our teachers were already Canvas users, since it is the platform we adopted several years ago, and those who are not prior users have risen to the occasion. I anticipate all secondary staff will be using Canvas by the middle of May. We hope this transition will help everyone -- teachers, students, and parents.
Our last day of school for the 2019-2020 school year will be Friday, June 19. When we built our calendar for the 2019-2020 school year, the last day of school was scheduled as Friday, June 12. Since we missed three days due to inclement weather, the last day of school was pushed back to Wednesday, June 17. As a result of the shutdown of in-person education due to the pandemic, the State has now declared the last day of school as Friday, June 19.
One month has passed since the official Census Day on April 1, but it is not too late to be counted. If you haven’t done so already, please take ten minutes to complete the 2020 census. The Census helps Washington get the national resources and representation we need. The Census helps determine funding for the Ferndale School District. Today, our funding needs are clearer than ever. Help out our state. Help out our school district. Be counted. Complete the census online at 2020census.gov or call 844.330.2020
We are working hard to make learning plans available on our website by Saturday each week. Unfortunately, we have less control over the hard copy packets, which have to be written, copied, assembled, and put in the mail within the span of a few days.
We are looking at a number of options for our hard copy packet production that may help us to increase efficiency. We are hopeful, but we are not able to make a guarantee regarding when the packets will hit your mailboxes.
The State put out new rules about grading yesterday. These new rules (which are not options but actual rules) are built on one main philosophical underpinning, which is “do no harm.” At the elementary level, all students making reasonable progress will be advanced to the next grade. Kellie Larrabee will be working with a group of principals and teachers to determine what our end-of-year report to elementary families will look like.
At the secondary level, the rules are a little more complicated. They include the following:
I (Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn) had a meeting yesterday afternoon with our Ferndale secondary principals about the grading system. They are committed to processing this information with their school leadership teams before we make a final decision about what grades we will offer.
If you want to read the entire OSPI Bulletin explaining the new grading rules, you can access it here:
We have received a number of inquiries from both families and staff about when they can get their personal items out of their classrooms, especially now that we know we are not going back this school year. I want you to know that we hear you and that we are responding. We are currently in the process of putting together a small representative committee of administrators and staff members to develop a safe and orderly system for returning property to staff and students. I expect we will have a plan to share with you by May 1.
While we have given all teachers guidelines for Zoom usage, we are not requiring them to use Zoom to communicate with students. Some teachers may decide not to use Zoom for a variety of reasons, and we respect and support that decision. Teachers who opt not to use Zoom are expected to be in contact with students in other ways, including email and phone.
Our expectations is that teachers reach out to their students once per week by telephone, email, or videoconference. If you are concerned that you child is not being contacted, I recommend you start by calling or emailing the teacher directly. If you do not hear back within two business days, you should contact the principal. We want to know if there are breaks in communication so we can help resolve any obstacles.
Please know that some of our teachers are using their personal cell phones to contact students. Therefore, they are using the *67 feature, which prevents their phone number from showing up on the receiver’s phone. If you receive a “blocked number” phone call, it could be a teacher.
We have received a number of emails from staff and families asking about whether we are going to have sports and activities in the fall, since we won’t know yet whether the levy will pass in November. It is true that the levy funds the district’s portion of all extracurricular athletics and activities. It is also true that waiting until the November 3 election is too late for fall sports. However, we can hardly imagine Ferndale schools without sports and activities. Therefore, we are working hard to figure out how we can pull together enough resources to fund our fall extracurricular schedule. Our goal is to have a definitive answer about fall sports and activities by May 15.
Our compassionate district counselors are developing new ways to support parents during this transition to distance learning and life at home during the pandemic. Specifically, they are making plans to offer three different kinds of opportunities for parents to connect with them and with each other to share ideas, resources, and whatever other kind of support is needed. These include (1) one-on-one coaching calls, (2) small parent support groups, and (3) open “coffee with the counselors” Zoom sessions. They want to provide a Spanish parent Zoom support call as well. Watch for more details about these opportunities within the next week or so -- either online or on a flyer in your student’s learning packet.
The short answer is “no.” We do not know anything apart from what has been said in public. What we can say is that, so far, the Governor has used a science-based approach to making decisions regarding this pandemic, and we believe that he will continue to do that. We will monitor continuing guidance from the Governor’s office and report back what we hear.
We are doing a lot of work right now to refine our safety protocols for staff. These are some of the measures we have instituted to protect them:
The Ferndale School District, like all school districts in Washington State, is submitting weekly reports to the state on how we are fulfilling their expectations. One of those expectations is to ensure that, if we are continuing to pay our employees, we are accounting for their all being engaged in meaningful work. At this time, our accounting procedure is to have all employees report daily to their administrator or his/her designee regarding the projects they are working on.
Our secondary school staffs have worked hard to assess exactly which students are unable to access the internet so we can either (1) figure out how to get them internet access or (2) find a different way to deliver learning plans to them.
We have done a similar assessment at the elementary level. However, because the district has not implemented a one-to-one technology model for elementary students, many more of them are not able to get online to do their lessons. Currently, we are working to dismantle our elementary computer labs so we can issue chrome books to fourth and fifth graders who do not currently have a device in their homes they can use.
This transition to distance learning has made us realize we all need to “get on the same page” with regards to the platform(s) we are using to deliver lessons to students.
At the secondary level, our goal is to get all teachers using Canvas in May. We have begun professional development for our staff to facilitate this transition. We are currently brainstorming additional ways we can support our staff as they move to this new model.
At the elementary level, we are still exploring which learning management system we want to adopt. Expect to hear more on this topic later.
Principal Vincent and I (Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn) had a zoom meeting earlier this week (Week of April 12-18) with student leaders of the Class of 2020. They are, of course, very interested in having an in-person commencement ceremony at some point. However, they have also come to terms with the reality that it is not likely to be possible in June. We talked about some kind of virtual event in June, and we settled on a “both/and” approach rather than “either/or.” That is, we are going to plan something online at the end of the current school year and also a traditional ceremony as soon as that option becomes available. Here is the information Principal Vincent sent to families of seniors earlier today:
We are in the process of thinking through how we can honor our students who, in the old world, would have been celebrating moving up from kindergarten, 5th grade and 8th grade this spring. We know that these are important passages, and we want to find meaningful ways to recreate our traditions in this new world.
We know grading is a question on the minds of many students and parents, especially at the secondary level. For third quarter, we intend to issue students a Pass or No Credit rather than a letter grade. Since third quarter grades are essentially a formal progress report, and they are not posted on students’ permanent transcripts, this will not impact secondary students’ GPAs. We are not making a final decision about grades for fourth quarter until we get more guidance from the state about the expectations of colleges and universities. Our commitment is to eliminate, or reduce to the greatest extent possible, any negative impact of this situation on our students’ futures.
We did learn this week that the University of Washington (and a number of other colleges and universities across the country) have decided to forgo the ACT or SAT as a college admission requirement for the incoming class of 2020.
Yes. At their April 7 meeting, the Ferndale School Board made the decision to wait until the November 3 general election to rerun our levy. This was another very difficult decision. On the one hand, waiting until November means we will be forced to move forward with the program changes and Reductions In Force (RIFs) necessary to create a balanced budget for 2020-2021 without levy dollars. On the other hand, the Board believes that at this time we need to maintain our focus on the effort in front of us, which is responding to Covid-19 and supporting students and families as we get through this pandemic together.
As you know, 2020 is the year of the U.S. Census. Census return rates are only about 50% in our region. If you haven’t done so already, we recommend that you go online to complete the census questionnaire. The results will help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states, communities, and school districts each year. When you respond to the census, your answers are kept anonymous. They are used only to produce statistics. The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. The law ensures that your private information is never published and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court. You can access the Census here.
The high school principals and I (Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn) are considering options. We have a telephone meeting on Friday, April 10 with a company that says they can facilitate a virtual ceremony which closely replicates our traditional in-person event with multiple speakers, a live-at-home audience, a moderated chat to cheer students on, music, and more. On April 13, we are holding a Zoom meeting with the elected student leaders of the Class of 2020 to get their input. Please know we are committed to creating a memorable event for our seniors, and we will keep you in the loop as we consider what that might be.
Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), the organization that oversees athletics and activities in our state, published the following statement on April 9:
The WIAA has received clarification that the order issued by Governor Inslee on Monday includes the cancellation of all in-person extracurricular athletics and activities through the end of the school year. This will include all regular season contests and practices as well as all postseason tournaments and championship events.
The decision was undoubtedly a difficult one for Governor Inslee. However, it was done so to keep the students and families in Washington safe. The WIAA Executive Board and WIAA Staff feel for those students around the state that have had their seasons or careers cut short. This terrible disease has not only prevented our students from creating lifelong memories through competition, it has limited the valuable lessons gained through participation is education-based athletics and activities.
The WIAA will continue to work with member schools around the state of Washington to navigate this unprecedented time. We have already seen some outstanding examples of athletic directors and coaches making the best of their situations and we know that work will continue.
We know grading is a question on many people’s minds. For third quarter, we intend to issue students a Pass or No Credit rather than a letter grade. Since third quarter grades are essentially a formal progress report, and they are not posted on students’ permanent transcripts, this will not impact GPAs. Students will be awarded a Pass based on (1) the in-school work they completed between February 1 and March 16 (our last day of traditional school), and (2) the contact they have had with staff during the first phase of our continuous learning program (which was delivered to them by their advisory teacher). We are not making a final decision about grades for fourth quarter until we get more guidance from the state about the expectations of colleges and universities. Our commitment is to eliminate, or reduce to the greatest extent possible, any negative impact of this situation on our students’ futures.
One way we can help is by sharing our district internet service. Each of our school buildings is essentially an internet hotspot. Any community member can access the district’s internet from the parking lot of one of our schools. If you decide to take advantage of this option, you should select the network called “FSDGuest,” which requires no password. If you choose to allow your student to access our internet, please know the internet itself is not filtered. If your students use the devices they were issued by the school district, those devices have filters installed which are more restrictive for middle school students than high school students. If your students use a personal device, rather than a school district device, they will have unfiltered internet access.
I (Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn) have looked at a variety of resources to address this question. One that I have found to be most helpful was put together by the National Association of School Psychologists. You can access it at this link:
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
Our Special Education Team is working hard to ensure evaluations, re-evaluations, and IEP deadlines are being met.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
As of this moment, we are planning to continue food service on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays as previously announced.
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.
If a staff member or family has a question about food, they can call this number 360-383-9236.
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.
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 our eight outlined sites from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm. You can find all of the details here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
No. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has cancelled state testing (SBAC) for the 2019-20 school year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 a March 20 update letter.
Our food service deliveries will be operational by Friday, March 20. Additional FAQS with information about meal distribution are on this FAQ page and a news release announcing meal distribution information can be accessed here.
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.
Meals are for all Ferndale School District students.
Beginning on Friday, March 20, meals will be served on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM.
No. Families can go to whatever location is most convenient.
We encourage students to be present with parents for distribution.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Please look for continued updates via email, phone call, and social media. We will also continue to update our Center for COVID-19 Information.
Our goal is to have food service deliveries operational by Friday, March 20. We will send more details to you Wednesday, March 18 or Thursday, March 19.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Ferndale School District is regularly updating our website with information and resources. We will continue to update information: www.ferndalesd.org/covid-19
Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new virus strain that has only spread in people since December 2019. Health experts are concerned because little is known about this new virus and it has the potential to cause severe illness and pneumonia in some people.
People who have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus have reported symptoms that may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus:
Close contact includes scenarios like living with or caring for a person with confirmed COVID-19, being within six feet of a person with confirmed COVID-19 for about 10 minutes, or if someone with COVID-19 coughed on you, kissed you, shared utensils with you or you had direct contact with their body secretions.
Yes. Governor Jay Inslee has mandated that all K-12 Schools close no later than Tuesday, March 17. This closure will extend though at least Friday, April 24.
Ferndale Schools will be open on Monday, March 16. School will be cancelled from Tuesday, March 17 through at least Friday, April 24. Visit www.ferndalesd.org/covid-19 for the latest updates.
If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, contact your regular doctor first. Do not go to the emergency room. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs.
If you have difficulty breathing, it doesn't mean you have novel coronavirus, but you should call 9-1-1.
If you're over 60 and you have underlying conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease. Come up with a plan with your doctor to identify your health risks for coronavirus and how to manage symptoms. Contact your doctor right away if you do have symptoms.
Students and staff can reduce their risk for getting and spreading viral respiratory infections, including the flu and the common cold, by encouraging them to take simple steps which will also prevent coronavirus. These include:
Deciding when a child is too sick to go to school can be a difficult decision to make. When trying to decide, use these guidelines to help make the best decision.
Public Health does not currently recommend that people wear masks when they are in public. Scientists are not sure whether wearing a mask in public actually keeps healthy people from getting sick. However, people who are sick should wear a mask in a healthcare setting (such as a waiting room) to avoid exposing other people when they cough or sneeze.
People wear masks for a variety of reasons, including to avoid pollen and air pollution, as a courtesy to others when they have the common cold, and for other cultural and even social reasons. This is an acceptable use of face masks.
If we see our friends, neighbors or other community members wearing a mask, we should not assume that they have been exposed to coronavirus or any other illness. We should avoid making assumptions about why someone is wearing a mask and make sure not to stigmatize or discriminate against people who choose to wear masks.
It is natural to be concerned about a new illness. Remember that according to our state and local health departments, the risk to the Ferndale community and to the U.S. population as a whole is currently low. If you would like to talk with someone, the following mental health services are available to students and staff:
Hard surfaces and frequently touched areas such as stair rails and door knobs are wiped down with a disinfectant solution daily. Cafeteria surfaces are sprayed with disinfectant before and after each lunch. Buses are wiped down between routes.
In addition, here is a list areas our school custodians disinfect daily:
A parent may choose to keep their child home from school. If they do so, they need to be in regular contact with the teacher and school.
Some children and staff may be at higher risk for severe illness because of underlying health conditions or a weakened immune system. Public Health advises that families consult with their healthcare provider to decide the best course of action.
If you decide to keep your child home, the absence will be excused.
Some children and staff may be at higher risk for severe illness because of underlying health conditions or a weakened immune system. Public Health advises that families consult with their healthcare provider to decide the best course of action. If you decide to keep your child home, the absence will be excused.
If your child is absent from school due to illness or safety concerns, your child’s teacher will provide assignments and opportunities for learning.
Guidance from health authorities is that it is not necessary to screen all students and staff for Coronavirus. However, staff should be alert for students and staff who have a cough, fever and/or difficulty breathing and have recently returned from international locations where community spread is occurring or have had contact with someone being evaluated for COVID-19. If that situation arises:
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.
As always, students will be reminded to wash their hands before eating and after using the bathroom. We have also installed and/or refilled hand sanitizer dispensers in schools. We have directed staff to ensure all students wash hands before and after lunch.
At this time, no students or staff are known to have the coronavirus.
As adults, it’s important we remain calm with our actions and words, and share factual information. Sharing accurate information during a time of heightened concern is critical. One of the ways we can protect our community from illness is to keep rumors and misinformation from spreading.
Here are some resources you may use to talk about the coronavirus with students: