A letter to families from Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn sent Monday, March 23, 2020 with a school closure information update. This update is also available at www.ferndalesd.org/covid-19 along with past updates and additional resources.
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.