Yesterday evening, the school board approved the following plan for reopening school for the 2020-21 school year.
- All schools will start in a distance learning model for all grade levels.
- We will work to find ways to build relationships with all students at the start of the school year.
- We will work to provide learning supports for small groups of students as soon as we can.
- We will work with the local health department to review status monthly and determine opportunities to expand in-person learning. We would likely start at the early grades and add days and grade levels as it is deemed safe to do so.
There are a few reasons why this decision was approved:
- We have committed from the beginning to follow the Whatcom County Health Departments recommendations and guidelines.
- Washington Schools Rick Management Pool (our insurance carrier) has clearly told us we should follow the local health department guidelines or risk loss of coverage. This a huge factor and brings with it both legal and financial liability issues for the district.
- This will allow as much time as possible for parents and families to develop plans and for school staff to be ready to go in September with learning plans to facilitate learning and support students.
- Starting with in-person learning would likely result in shutdowns and quarantines that would be more disruptive to consistency and continuity of learning.
This was an extremely difficult decision to make as our school board members care deeply and want what is best for the kids and families and the Lynden Community as a whole. The emails, phone calls, and communications provided by families and staff were greatly appreciated and reviewed with the intent to listen carefully to what families and staff had to say and to weigh considerations and all options. Each board member wants to get our kids back in school in a safe way and provide options for families to choose a model of learning they fell most comfortable with, so student can benefit from the great instruction and programs that help them grow and thrive. We will continue to develop plans for both distance and in-person learning.
This is certainly a unique time. Something that we have never experienced before and so do not have a playbook to refer to for answers and direction. Unfortunately, there are no right answers here, only best choices based on current information without certainty of future conditions.
Based on conversations, emails, and phone calls, I am fully aware that for some this decision will be disappointing. Our commitment to our students, families and Lynden community is that we will work to develop the best possible learning environment for the kids we serve and work with families to be as responsive as possible. There are challenges ahead but I know we will rise to this occasion and work together to focus on the needs of students.
It is a privilege to serve Lynden students, families, and community.
Jim Frey – Superintendent
Steve Jilk – School Board President
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