Superintendent's Letter on Fall Reopening

Superintendent's Update on Fall Reopening
Posted on 10/16/2020

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October 16, 2020


Dear South Whidbey families, students, staff and community,


On August 12th, our school board approved our reopening plan that was originally emailed to you on August 4th. This plan carefully, after much research, review and discussion, thought through the priorities, practicalities and procedures for 2020-2021, including the metrics we must review as we plan for children to return in person for face-to-face school.  


Per our approved plan and agreed upon union contracts, school began for staff on August 31st. We have been working with our staff to create a robust program for all students.  Our first two weeks of school was a soft start in phase one (only staff on campus). Teachers spent days in multiple training sessions to improve their skills and enrich the delivery of our academic program.  Most importantly, teachers were required to connect with each student/family on their rosters. This check in gave us the opportunity to assess our students, provide equipment (Chromebook computers), supplies, and materials to the families, determine which programs fit best, and prepare our students for remote learning. 


On September 14th, we moved into phase two (limited hybrid) and welcomed kindergarten and many students with special needs on site for face-to-face learning. These students and families learned to process our new normal of daily required health attestations, practicing good health habits, wearing masks full time and social distancing in the classroom (outdoors for the kindergarteners) and on the playground. 


As indicated in our plan, on October 15th, we reviewed the metrics related to Covid and our situation in Island County. These metrics reveal that our County remains in the moderate zone and per our plan, keeps us in phase 2 (limited hybrid). On Wednesday evening, the school board reviewed the data and responded to over 100 questions and comments .  After several hours the board concluded that it will continue to follow the approved plan. They directed the superintendent to begin the process of returning approximately 150 more K-12 students who are currently at risk and who are furthest away from educational justice. 


Per our plan, the next review will occur on November 18h. At the November 18th School Board Meeting, the board will conduct another review of the Covid metrics to consider whether to bring the district to phase 3 (hybrid plus) and return the entire K-4 population to a hybrid model. 


As mentioned multiple times, we have a fully researched plan that we are following. We are entering the months of weather challenges, virus spikes and holidays.  We have seen from state and national news that the holidays, with increased family and friend contacts, spike the Covid cases.  Our goal as a district is to keep our staff, students, families and community members as safe as possible. Our decisions are not for one child, but for the district children as a whole. 


We appreciate and know that this is an extremely challenging time for everyone. We all want to be back to normal and have all of our students in their classrooms and in the hallways.  We want to see the children playing with each other on the playground and discussing worldly and daily concerns in the classroom.  We want to attend a sporting event and cheer our Falcons and Cougars on. We want to celebrate their youth and the joys of life together. 


We understand that our students, families and staff are facing tremendous challenges with their own physical and mental health, finances, and adjustments to our current educational format. Although we cannot have students in classrooms at this time, we have resources available to you. Grab and Go Meals are available to all students at no cost for the entirety of 2020-2021 (more information and sign up linked here).  We still urge you to complete the Free and Reduced application (linked here) as it benefits your students for more than just meals. 


Readiness To Learn has a list of resources for our families that is available on our website and linked here. This list includes resources for food, housing, utilities, youth and recreation.  It is my understanding that they are working on a list of available tutors that have volunteered to help students.  Additionally, our school counselors and support staff are available to help support our students, please see their slides linked here.  As mentioned above, we are bringing in our most vulnerable students now. If you believe your child is in this category and needs help, please contact your school principal (all principal contact information linked here).


We thank you for your understanding and support. We are in this together. We are all doing the best for our students, families and our community. By doing your part - wearing your mask, staying home if you are sick, washing your hands frequently, providing social distance, you are keeping Covid 19 at a manageable level where our health care professionals can do their job without the urgency that we have seen happen across the world.  Thank you for supporting your students. 



Jo Moccia, Superintendent

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