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School buildings are closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Distance learning continues in the Ferndale School District while school buildings are closed. Governor Jay Inslee mandated that all K-12 schools in Washington close for traditional, in-person learning due to COVID-19. This web page provides communication updates and resources.
Thursday, August 13, 2020

Ferndale School District Information Update

A letter to families from Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn sent Thursday, August 13, 2020 with an information update.

Find previous communication update letters archived below the latest featured update.


Dear Ferndale Families,

Since August 4, when the School Board agreed that we need to follow the strong recommendation of the Whatcom Health Department and begin the 2020-2021 school year in full distance learning, we have been focusing all of our efforts on preparing to offer the very best instructional and support services we can to students and families in a distance learning model. I am writing to let you know more about what “online school” is going to look like when school starts back up in September.

At both the secondary and elementary levels, we have selected and purchased licenses for Learning Management Systems (LMS) that all teachers will use -- Canvas at the secondary level and Google Classrooms at the elementary level. These Learning Management Systems will become our students’ online classrooms. They will be the places where students meet their teachers to start each day, where attendance will be taken, where instructions about lessons will be written on virtual whiteboards, where resources will be located in virtual bookcases, and so on.

We have also selected and purchased curriculum specifically designed for use in online learning settings. Our secondary teachers will be using Edgenuity. Our elementary teachers will be using Accelerate Ed, Achieve 3000, and Khan Academy. These are well-established, tried-and-true resources that have all been effectively used to support distance learning for years -- including in some places in the Ferndale School District. They will become our students’ textbooks. They won’t “teach” students any more than a textbook alone can teach students. Our teachers will be doing that.

Teachers will be going into their virtual classrooms (Canvas or Google Classroom) every day to greet their students and assist them in using their virtual textbooks (Edgenuity, Accelerate Ed, and so on) to meet the learning objectives for their grade level or class. Just as they always have, teachers will be designing, facilitating, and assessing learning. Just as they always have, they will be getting to know their students, building relationships, encouraging engagement, and addressing social and emotional needs -- with the help of support personnel like counselors and paraeducators.

To accommodate learning in our virtual classrooms with our virtual textbooks, we have also been working to design daily schedules for students at each level that will more closely resemble a traditional school day. Students and teachers will check in together at the same time every day. Attendance will be taken. Specific time periods will be established for each subject. Time for group work and independent study will be built into the schedule, as well as time for teachers to assist individual students and consult with parents. In short, students will have predictable routines to follow each day -- and they will not consist of 100% screen time. Our teacher leadership teams are still working out the details of these daily schedules, but we will have them to share soon.

As we prepare for re-opening school three weeks from today, other areas we are working on include:

  • Administering a registration survey to families: This survey, which went out in three languages yesterday, will provide us with critically important information about each family’s needs and desires related to technology, learning plan preferences, and transportation (when in-person instruction becomes possible). The due date for returning these registration surveys is August 17, and we need one for every child.**A note for those of you who may have Comcast email addresses: We noticed a technical glitch that impacted Comcast-based email addresses (around 250 emails). We are working to resend the survey to those email addresses. The survey is also available on our district website, if you are unable to access it through email.
  • Ensuring student connectivity: We have been working all summer with a group called Connect Whatcom to come up with solutions for families who do not have adequate internet connection. In some cases, the problem will be solved by providing a device. (We have more devices ordered. We are also hoping to free up some devices by instituting a Use-Your-Own-Device program for those students who own a computer they can utilize for schoolwork.) In some cases, we can solve connectivity issues by paying for internet service, a hotspot, or a booster. In some cases, the solution is more difficult because of a basic lack of infrastructure. The student survey referenced above will provide us with the specific connectivity needs of each family.
  • Developing a schedule for distributing student devices: At this time, we anticipate devices at the secondary level will be distributed the week before school starts. At the elementary level, a decision about when devices will go out is still in the works. We will share specific schedules once we have them.
  • Determining how we will decide when it is safe to begin phasing in in-person learning: I think we all agree that the best place for our students to learn is at school. However, the immediate health and safety of our students, families, staff, and broader community needs to be our highest priority. To balance these two competing needs, the district will regularly monitor public health conditions and continue planning for a return to in-person learning in some form when we can do so safely. The Governor announced some metrics last week that can be accessed here: Decision Tree for Provision of In Person Learning among K-12 Students at Public and Private Schools during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • Getting more re-opening information on our website: In our new virtual world, we know our website is more important than ever. For this reason, we have made it a priority to build out a more robust re-opening page on our District website within the next two weeks.
  • Using other tools to communicate with stakeholders: The website is important, to be sure, but not enough. Therefore, we are ratcheting up our use of other communication tools as well. You have probably heard that we have started holding every Thursday Facebook Live programs to provide information and answer questions. (They run from 4:00 to 4:30 pm and can be accessed through the District’s Facebook page.) Next week, we have planned three pop-up Zoom meetings for our non-English speaking families, one in Spanish (August 20, 6:00 pm), one in Russian (August 19, 6:00 pm), and one in Punjabi (August 19, 7:00 pm). Our bi-lingual staff are helping us get the word out about these pop-ups, which will be used to answer questions about the registration survey and everything else related to re-opening.

In a nutshell, this is a summary of what we are working on right now. The official re-opening plan for OSPI will be presented to the School Board at a special Zoom meeting on Tuesday, August 18, 7:00 pm. (The meeting notification is posted on BoardDocs.)

Please feel free to reach out to me or your child’s principal, if you have questions about any of this.

Speaking of questions, another one I have heard several times lately has to do with resources. People are asking whether we still need as many resources if all the kids will be learning online this fall. My short answer to that question is an absolute YES. Education has had to be reinvented to make sure we can keep everyone safe. And it’s true that in this new world, some of the resources we need are different. But we definitely don’t need fewer resources. That’s one reason the levy in November is so important. The other reason it is so important is that it is a replacement of the current levy, NOT a new tax. And it is a replacement at a lower rate (down from $2.17 to $1.50). The replacement levy will provide funds beginning in January 2021, when the current levy runs out, and extending through December 2022. That means by the time this new levy funding kicks in, we will likely be back in our school buildings delivering in-person instruction and a full array of extracurricular opportunities for students, which we will need levy funds to support.

Finally, at the end of this letter, I will address the following topics in a way that allows you to read what is important to you.

  • Response to racism during recent protest marches
  • Adoption of Ferndale School District’s 2020-2021 budget
  • Latest news about athletics
  • Traffic Safety (aka Driver’s Training)
  • Business of the Year: Coconut Kenny’s

The first official day of the 2020-21 instructional year remains Wednesday, September 2. Over the course of the next three weeks, we will be providing you with additional details about this year’s back-to-school plans.

Please know we are all getting very excited to see our students again -- even if it’s only on the screen. Please let them know how much we have missed them.

Take care, stay healthy, return your registration survey, and enjoy these dog days of summer.

Linda

Response to racism
July ended with several rallies in the community of Ferndale. On Friday (July 31) at 4:00 pm, a group of 250-300 people gathered in the Ferndale High School parking lot for a march through downtown to Centennial Riverside Park in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. This march was organized by FHS alumni and current students and also involved several FHS staff. Another group about 50-70 strong gathered on both sides of Main Street in front of the US Post Office and City Hall in support of the Ferndale Police. I understand there was a third group of Second Amendment supporters as well. Although I saw nothing other than people with different viewpoints exercising their right to peacefully protest, I learned afterwards that there were racist epitaphs yelled during the march and written on social media. Such remarks violate what we stand for in our School District.

Having worked closely with the leadership of the City and the Police Department, I feel certain any racially-charged hate speech violates the values of both of those entities as well. In a Tweet the next day, Mayor Hansen, called out values when he wrote: “With a few exceptions, the [July 31] events were peaceful and represented Ferndale values; the belief that we can have difficult discussions respectfully and find common ground.”

I want to let you know that our School District stands firmly against all racist speech, actions, policies, and practices at every level in our society. They are contrary to our vision, mission, and core values. Even though the incidents of racism related to the July 31 marches occurred outside our legal purview, I am deeply disturbed by them. I am also committed to making sure our education system is part of the solution by denouncing racism in all its forms and by building partnerships that serve to create a more equitable and socially just society. I invite each of you to join us as we engage in this important work.

Before I leave this topic, I want to offer public kudos to the FHS students and alumni who demonstrated their civic-mindedness by taking action. They didn’t just decide to hold a march on a whim. They did their homework. They went through some training. They notified all the right people in advance. And they took a stand. Whether or not someone agrees with the stand they took, everyone owes them the space and respect to take it. When I talk about our School District’s mission of developing people who are Character Strong, Civic Minded, and Career Ready, this is what I mean.

Adoption of Ferndale School District’s 2020-2021 budget
State law requires that each school district has a balanced budget for the upcoming school year developed and approved by its school board by August 31st. I doubt I need to tell you that developing our budget this year has been very challenging because of the levy failure. In addition to all of the staff positions we cut, we have had to dip quite deeply into our savings to balance the budget for 2020-2021.

I want to let you know that School Board will hold a public hearing next week (Tuesday, August 18, 6:45 pm) for the purpose of receiving comments on the 2020-2021 budget. We have devised and advertised on BoardDocs a way for people to make comments about the budget in our new Zoom world. Those who are interested in speaking at the virtual hearing should register in advance through the following link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_cRgBxj5DT_uc-5yYpNk4cA. They will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Written comments may submitted prior to the hearing at the following email address: fsdinfo@ferndalesd.org. Or they can be made at the hearing through the webinar chat feature. The completed budget is on our website: https://www.ferndalesd.org/business-support-services/budget.

Latest news about athletics
As you might have guessed, when most school districts in the region made the decision to open school remotely, the fall athletic schedule was pushed back. Those sports that were going to start in August and September will now occur in one of the other three seasons. Here is the link to the latest scheduling information from Washington Interscholastic Athletics Association (WIAA): https://wiaa.com/News.aspx?ID=1728&Mon=8&Yr=2020

Traffic Safety (aka Driver’s Training)
We will be offering Traffic Safety through Ferndale High School this fall, beginning on Tuesday September 8. The course is nine weeks long and will end on Friday, November 6. The classroom portion will be delivered remotely three days per week through a combination of Canvas lessons and teacher-led Zoom meetings. The simulators will not be used until in-person instruction begins. Until then, an extra behind-the-wheel lesson will take the place of the simulator experience. The behind-the-wheel instruction portion of the class will be conducted in one-on-one sessions that adhere to all OSPI and Department of Health guidelines.

Those who are interested in taking Traffic Safety this fall must attend (preferably with their parent) a mandatory Zoom orientation with Mr. Richard on one of these two dates: (1) Tuesday, September 8 at 5:00 pm or (2) Wednesday, September 9 at 7:00 pm. Attendance at one of these meeting will ensure a place in the fall class.

To register for the mandatory orientation, contact either Mr. Genger at 360-319-9746/ ted.genger@ferndalesd.org or Mr. Richard at 360-220 9575/ tim.richard@ferndalesd.org to give them your email address. They will then send you an invitation to the Zoom meeting.

Business of the Year: Coconut Kenny’s
Coconut Kenny’s and owners Chay and Lee Tan were selected as the Ferndale School District’s 2019-2020 Business of the Year!

Each summer, the District honors a business that has made outstanding contributions to Ferndale Schools during the past year. This longstanding recognition is a way to show our appreciation for the positive impacts community businesses and organizations have on students and schools. This Business of the Year Award is a testament to the positive impact Coconut Kenny’s has had on our schools, teachers, and children.

Coconut Kenny's first approached the Ferndale High School leadership team about a year ago with a partnership idea. They volunteered to become the official sponsor of concessions at our sporting events, offering deeply discounted pizza for students to sell at games. Essentially, they donated their pizza, thereby creating an avenue for students to raise more ASB funds to support their clubs and activities.

In addition, Chay and Lee had tickets printed for all of our home events with their logo and a coupon on the back. During contests, they held drawings to give away pizza to fans. These drawings became especially popular at basketball games, where the winner of the drawing also got a chance to try to make a basket from half-court. If the lucky fan made the shot, they received free Coconut Kenny’s pizza for a year. These half-court shots -- always entertaining -- were videotaped and promoted on Coconut Kenny's Facebook page. And there were several winners throughout the season!

Chay and Lee Tan write in their Coconut Kenny’s mission statement: “We strive and work relentlessly every day to become the leading restaurant, employer, and business partner of choice everywhere we have the pleasure of conducting business.” They have been excellent partners with our school district in many ways. They have shown up at our events, they have stepped in to lend a hand when one was needed, and they have helped to tell the positive stories of the Ferndale School District. Chay and Lee Tan are wonderful examples of the kind of community leaders we hope all our students will become. This community is blessed to have them in it.


 

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