Updates -Letter from the Superintendent

Letter from the Superintendent - Updates
Posted on 03/08/2022
Letter from the Superintendent

 

 

 

 


March 8, 2022

 

Subject: New Washington Department Of Health Guidance

 

Dear Staff, Students and Families,

 

This morning, the State of Washington Department of Health released Requirements and Guidance to Mitigate COVID-19 Transmission in K-12 Schools, Child Care, Early Learning, Youth Development, and Day Camp Programs (linked here)

 

We are transitioning from a pandemic to an endemic response to COVID-19. As I mentioned in my letter on March 1, 2022, beginning Monday, March 14th, barring a new requirement from our local health department, masks will become optional in our school buildings and on school buses. Students and staff will have the choice to wear a mask or not at school, with the expectation that others’ choices will be respected. One should not make assumptions regarding someone’s beliefs or health status, nor should they comment on them. Our district will not tolerate bullying of any kind for those who choose to continue wearing or not wearing masks.   

 

Effective March 12, 2022, we will no longer be testing in athletics, nor for students and staff to stay at school. All physical distrancing requirements will end. 

 

As required in the guidance (see health care settings), masks (appropriate PPE) must continue to be worn by all Staff providing care, children, and visitors aged 2 years and older in the nurse/health room and in the isolation room. 

 

To continue in this progression, Students or staff that have symptoms of COVID-19 are required to stay home and should get tested and/or see a health care provider and follow the return to work protocol. Any student or staff member that tests positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, is required to isolate at home following current guidelines from DOH and CDC regardless of vaccination status.  

 

Returning to Work/School After Testing Positive

  • Staff and Students may return to work/school after 5 full days of isolation if:
    • Symptoms have improved or are asymptomatic, AND
    • Without a fever for the past 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • If returning to work/school after the 5 full days, the individual:
    • Is strongly recommended to war a well-fitted mask or face shield with a drape during days 6-10 of their isolation period OR
    • Test negative with an antigen or at-home test any day after day 5.  Testing beyond day 10 is not necessary.  

Isolation

  • Any student or staff member that is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms is required to be isolated immediately, sent home and referred to diagnostic testing as soon as possible regardless of vaccination status.  
    • While waiting to leave the school or program the student or staff member is required to be in a designated isolation space.  
    • The symptomatic individual is required to wear a well-fitting mask.

South Whidbey School District will continue to update our COVID Dashboard (found on our website home page Home - South Whidbey School District (wednet.edu)).  Additionally, we will notify staff of any exposure following the requirements in WAC 296-62-600.  Additionally, any  student who has been identified as immunocompromised, medically fragile, or otherwise at high risk for severe COVID-19 of potential exposure will be directly notified. We will continue to report all positive cases to Island County Public Health and all outbreaks to the Washington Department of Health. 

 

South Whidbey continues to recommend good hygiene practices: Frequent handwashing and hand sanitizing. Physical distancing when possible. Our staff will continue the cleaning and disinfecting practices that have been in place.

 

Please continue to wear masks for the remainder of this week. Masks are still required at tomorrow’s school board workshop. Starting March 23rd, masks will not be required at the school board meetings.

 

Sincerely,

Jo Moccia, Superintendent

 

 

 

March 1, 2022

 

Subject: Additional Changes to Statewide School Mask Requirements

 

Dear Students and Families,

 

Yesterday, Governor Inslee announced a change to the date the statewide indoor mask mandate will lift. Instead of March 21, the statewide mandate – including in schools – will lift at 11:59 pm on March 11. This change is in alignment with announcements this morning by Oregon and California.

 

This means that beginning Monday, March 14, barring a new requirement from our local health department, masks will become optional in our school buildings and on school buses. Students will have the choice to wear a mask at school, with the expectation that others’ choices will be respected. One should not make assumptions regarding someone’s beliefs or health status, nor should they comment on them. Our district will not tolerate bullying of any kind for those who choose to continue wearing masks. 

 

For young children, please let teachers know your wishes and they will do their best to reinforce them. Our educators will discuss the change with students in a developmentally appropriate manner, including how to respect others’ personal choice. If your child(ren) expresses any anxiety, please feel free to reach out to our school counselors or psychologists for support.

 

Until March 14, masks will continue to be required for all students, staff, and visitors in all School District buildings and on buses. Masks will continue to be provided for those who do not have them, and students who will not wear masks will be sent home.

 

Thank you for your continued flexibility and understanding as we navigate the changing requirements together.

 

Sincerely,

Jo MocciaSuperintendent


 

February 18, 2022

 

Dear South Whidbey Staff, Students and Families:

 

Yesterday, February 17, 2022,  Governor Jay Inslee announced that we are approaching, but have not yet reached, the finish line regarding masking and other requirements in schools.

 

I know that the information contained herein will please some and scare others as we continue to move toward COVID becoming endemic.  Over the past two years, we have navigated the guidance from federal, state, and local authorities. Thank you for remaining diligent in fighting this pandemic. 

 

The Governor announced that the statewide indoor mask requirement for Washington state, including in our K–12 schools, is scheduled to end on March 21, 2022. Once the statewide requirement is lifted, masks will be encouraged in our school buildings, but not required. Masks will still be required on school buses per a federal mandate that requires masks to be worn on all forms of public transportation.

Until March 21st, masks will continue to be required for all students, staff, and visitors in all South Whidbey School District buildings. Masks will continue to be provided for those who do not have them, and students who will not wear masks will be sent home. South Whidbey School District and our Board of Directors do not have local control over this matter. We are legally required to follow the Governor’s directive, which currently requires masks in school buildings.

 

Public health modeling indicates that cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19 will continue decreasing over the coming weeks, dropping to rates similar to last summer. The decision to remove the statewide mask requirement was based on the best science and research available, as well as our experience and preparation to continue combatting this virus.

 

Across the state, school districts have prepared for these changes over the past two years with:

  • A COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all school employees,
  • Vaccinations for individuals ages 5+ widely available,
  • One of the most robust school COVID-19 testing systems in the country,
  • Improved ventilation systems, and
  • A well-researched understanding of self-mitigation protocols.

Once the statewide mask requirement lifts, without a new requirement from our local health department, masks will become optional in our school buildings. 

 

Students will have the choice to wear a mask at school, with the expectation that others’ choices will be respected. One should not make assumptions regarding someone’s beliefs or health status, nor should they comment on them. Our district will not tolerate bullying of any kind for those who choose to continue wearing masks and for those who choose not to wear a mask. 

 

We will provide more information about how we will support our children and the choices families make around masking once it becomes optional on March 21. For now please help us all reach that point gracefully by continuing to comply with the mask and distancing mandates.

 

We thank you for your continued flexibility as we navigate this pandemic together. We know you likely have many questions about this announcement, and we are anticipating receiving additional information from public health officials and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)  in the coming weeks. We will continue communicating with you as we learn about changes to the guidance for our district. 

 

Thank you.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jo MocciaSuperintendent

 

 

 

January 13, 2022

 

Dear South Whidbey Staff, Students and Families:

 

On Friday, January 7, the Department of Health updated isolation and quarantine recommendations for K-12 schools (linked here). The new recommendations align with updated CDC guidelines. We will begin using the updated recommendations immediately. These include:

 

Close contacts: When to quarantine

 

Students, teachers, and staff who come into close contact with someone with COVID-19 do need to quarantine for at least 5 days after their last close contact if they are in any one of the following groups:

  • Ages 18 or older and completed the primary series of recommended vaccines, but have not received a recommended booster shot when eligible.
  • Received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine (completing the primary series) over 2 months ago and have not received a recommended booster shot.
  • Are not vaccinated or have not completed a primary vaccine series.

If you remain asymptomatic, and test results on day 5 are negative, your quarantine is complete. If you choose not to test, continue to quarantine until after day 10. If symptoms arise anytime during quarantine, get tested.  

 

Students, teachers, and staff who come into close contact with someone with COVID-19 do not need to quarantine if they are in any one of the following groups (continue to monitor for symptoms and stay home if you are sick):

  • Ages 18 or older and have received all recommended vaccine doses, including boosters and additional primary shots for some immunocompromised people.
  • Ages 5-17 years and completed the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Had confirmed COVID-19 within the last 90 days.

Positive test results: When to isolate

  • Isolate for at least 5 days. Day 0 is the day of symptom onset (or the day of positive COVID-19 test if no symptoms are present). This applies regardless of vaccination status.
  • Returning to School: Staff and students in isolation MAY test on day 5 but are not required to test. Isolation requirements depend on symptoms. After 5 days of isolation, students and staff may return to school if they are fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication AND other symptoms have resolved. Your school nurse can help you with your specific case.
  • If a rapid antigen test on day 5 is positive, you must continue to isolate through day 10.  
  • If you continue to have a fever or other symptoms have not improved after 5 days of isolation, you should wait to end isolation until after 10 days, you are fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, and symptoms have resolved.
  • Continue wearing a well-fitting mask around others from day 6-10, both in and out of school, including during extracurricular and sports activities.

The new flow chart from Island County is linked here (this graphic is interim until WA DOH updates their version). Please note that South Whidbey School District does NOT participate in the "Test to Stay" program. 

 

Additionally, please note that the instructional calendar was updated to include the Kindergarten through sixth graders in the January 26 and 27, 2022 half days. On these days, grades 7-12 will end at 11:30am after finals and grades K-6 will end at 12:30pm. The staff will participate in district wide professional development and complete other duties related to teaching and learning.  January 28, 2022 is a non-student day for semester break.

 

January is School Board Appreciation Month.  Please thank your volunteer board directors for their service when you see them. There is an open position for school board director district one (see boundary map linked here). The application is available online linked here.  The deadline for applications is Friday, February 18, 2022 at 4pm. 

 

Enjoy this three day weekend. COVID is around us. Please continue your safety measures to protect yourself and your loved ones.  Get lots of rest over the weekend as we wrap up the Fall semester and move into finals.

 



Sincerely,

Jo Moccia, Superintendent

January  2, 2022


Dear Staff, Students and Families, 


Happy New Year!!!


I hope everyone has had fun in the snow with opportunities to sled, build snow people, snow angels, and/ or snowballs. Check out some of the school farm snow photos below.  I have spent years in the snow and understand the challenges it brings. With the weather and evolving situation regarding COVID-19, we wanted to provide you with some information as we return from winter break.


BUS ROUTES AND INFORMATION - Our transportation team will be continuing to evaluate roadways and bus routes. We will provide you with the most up-to-date information (as it is available to us) by 6 a.m. on Monday, January 3, so that you can plan your return to school. As a reminder, limited transportation routes/schedules are available on our website at: https://www.sw.wednet.edu/about_us/departments/transportation/limited_transportation_routes/.


SCHOOLS, BUILDINGS AND PARKING LOTS - Our maintenance and custodial crews are working throughout the weekend to clear parking lots and sidewalks and make sure our schools and buildings are ready for Monday, January 3. Please note our parking lots are gated closed for safety reasons and so our crews can do their snow and ice removal work.


SCHOOL RESUMES IN PERSON - School and classes will resume on Monday, January 3. All instruction is in-person. We are aware of some community discussion that has occurred over the break and want you to know there are no plans for our district to pivot to remote learning at this time. We will continue to evaluate our situation to ensure we are responding to any needed changes. 


We understand that every student/family living circumstance is different. For some the roads are cleared and getting to school will be very easy.  For others, the trees prevent the sun from melting the snow, causing the snow and/or ice to make traveling a challenge.  Please consider your safety and the safety of your child first and foremost. Remember to call/email your attendance secretary if your student will be absent. Attendance information is available here: https://www.sw.wednet.edu/students/attendance/.


QUARANTINE AND ISOLATION TIMELINES - The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and OSPI have submitted their press release on updating the COVID-19 isolation and quarantine timelines in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed guidelines.  Please see the press release below. As a reminder our school district offers the DOH Test to Stay Program. Test to Stay allows a student who is identified as a close contact at school to remain at school after exposure, if they meet specified criteria. 


TESTED POSITIVE - If a student, staff member or a member of your immediate household has tested positive for COVID-19, please make sure our district nurse or principal are aware so that appropriate health and safety precautions can be taken. Our district nurse is Emmy Atwood and can be reached by email at eatwood@sw.wednet.edu.


Please remember that we are all in this together and your precautions and acts of prevention make all the difference.  If your student is displaying any of the COVID symptoms (which includes cold and flu symptoms), please keep your child home to prevent transmission of any virus. We know that for many schedules have been laxed, and students have stayed up much later than normal. Please encourage your student to have a restful sleep tonight in preparation for their return to school. We look forward to seeing each of our students and finishing the last days of the Fall Semester. 


May we all be our best in 2022!


Sincerely,

Jo Moccia, Superintendent

 


Washington Department of Health December 29, 2021  Press Release:


Department of Health updates isolation and quarantine guidance 

to align with CDC recommendation


OLYMPIA -- Today, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced updates to state isolation and quarantine guidance, in alignment with the newly released recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Monday, the CDC announced the following shift in isolation and quarantine recommendations for the general public:


Shorten the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to five days, if they are asymptomatic on day five, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not related to COVID-19.


Recommended quarantine period for those exposed to COVID-19:


For unvaccinated individuals or those that are more than six months from their original mRNA dose or more than two months after the J&J vaccine and not yet boosted, CDC is recommending quarantine for five days followed by strict mask use for another five days.


Vaccinated individuals who have received their booster do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask for 10 days after exposure.


If symptoms do occur after exposure, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not related to COVID-19.


When in doubt, get tested on day five and as always, wear a mask when in public spaces after isolation and quarantine are complete. Also be mindful of activities, especially indoors and in crowded settings.


In addition to the changes announced Monday, due to concerns about increased transmissibility of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the CDC recently updated their work restriction recommendations for healthcare personnel (HCP).  DOH is also updating the guidelines for Washington to align with CDC recommendations. To ensure occupational health and safety, employers should refer to and follow all applicable worksite requirements outlined by the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I).


“It remains important for community members to know about changes to this guidance”, said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “The key remains recognizing we all have to work together to protect ourselves and those around us”.


Vaccination is still the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Everyone over the age of 16 is eligible for a booster dose and should get one as soon as possible. Children over the age of five should start their two-shot series immediately. To find vaccine locations near you visit Vaccine Locator, Vaccines.gov, or call the state’s COVID-19 hotline at 833-VAX-HELP. Language assistance is available.


DOH continues to recommend limited travel and exposure to large crowds. People should get tested if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.  Additionally, in the state of Washington, masking is required for all individuals when indoors in accordance with the Secretary of Health’s face covering order.


Changes to state recommendations go into effect immediately. Updates to the DOH website and other guidance documents will be completed soon.


December 17, 2021

 

Dear South Whidbey Staff, Students and Families, 

South Whidbey School District is aware of the nationwide school violence threats that are circulating on social media, such as TikTok.

At this time, we are not aware of any confirmed or credible threats at any South Whidbey schools.

We take all threats seriously and work with our local law enforcement to investigate any cause for concern.

We ask that staff and students continue to be observant and report any suspicious behavior to either school authorities or local law enforcement. 

Thank you for your continued care and concern for the staff, students and families in our district. 

We wish you a peaceful and restful winter break which begins after school today.

Sincerely,

Superintendent Jo Moccia

 

 

 

December 14, 2021 

 

Dear South Whidbey Staff, Students and Families:

 

Thank you for your patience, support and flexibility as we managed these recent school closures due to power outages. Last  Wednesday’s outage was quite unexpected and proved challenging for many.  We are only starting our weeks of winter weather. Unfortunately, we expect additional weather challenges in the new year.  Robo messages will only be sent for changes from the instructional calendar. Please make sure that your information is current with your school secretaries so that you receive the district messages and school updates.

 

I am uplifted by all of the spirit throughout all of the schools these last few weeks.  The food drives led by all of the campuses have provided hundreds of food items for our local food bank.  The holiday gift wrapping drive, led by the South Campus and the Middle School students,  supports the Readiness to Learn Holiday House program which in turn helps many families in our community.  The wonderful engagement of the students in their spirit week festivities (crazy mask day, character dress up day, ugly sweater day, blue and white day) is contagious.  Winter sports are on their way with wrestling, girls and boys basketball games and middle school soccer with a recent win.  Be sure to check out their home game on Thursday.  Our talented band performers from last week, followed tonight by the SWHS's Choir Concert and on Thursday, by our amazing Jazz Band's performance at WICA.  We have so many opportunities to support these students with the South Whidbey Spirit that they deserve. 

 

As you know, South Whidbey has felt its share of loss and threats of harm.  We have had to endure the fear of COVID impacting our lives and the lives of those we care about. It has certainly impacted our students and the way they come to school on a daily basis. We heard and read about the recent shootings in Michigan and felt the fears and concerns for our own students’ safety especially because of a threat of harm in our own district.  EVERY time we hear sirens on our quiet island our hearts likely skip a beat.  We care for our students, staff and community. 

 

Threats to our safety are never taken lightly. Each time we learn of a threat to safety we follow our safety protocol. We carry out threat assessments, work with law enforcement as necessary and support our families. Our duty is to all of our staff and students to assume every threat is credible.  We have all experienced this and it adds to our stress.

 

Over this break, I ask you to consider:

  • Speaking with your children about the value of their lives and the lives of others. 
  • HUG these wonderful children we have. 
  • Listen to them and ask them about their fears and troubles.
  • Emphasize the importance of avoiding the use of threatening language. There are consequences to speaking, posting or sharing inappropriate content and threats of violence, whether online, on paper or vocally.  Everything can become public and can affect more than the persons intended.
  • Please take the time to review your child’s online activity. There is far more on the internet than we would ever want our youth to encounter.
  • Please remind your child to speak with a trusted adult if they see something. Don’t hesitate, say something. Students quickly reporting incidents helps our administration to respond quickly, investigate and address the issue.
  • Please reassure all our children that there are many people working here at the district to keep them safe. 

At South Whidbey, every student has a trusted adult whether that be a teacher, a paraeducator, a counselor, a school nurse, a member of the administration, a coach, a bus driver, a custodian, food service worker or any one of our staff. Please make sure they know that the South Whidbey Staff cares for them and values each and every one of our students for whom they are. 


For those students who need additional counseling services, in addition to our own academic counseling staff,  we work with Island County and the NW Educational Service District to provide licensed trained professionals in our buildings.  These include, but are not limited to: Amanda Potter (K-4 Social Worker), Erin Gutzmer (K-6 School Psychologist), Janet Hunter (5-8 Academic Counselor), Claire Commons (7-12 Student Support Advocate), Marguerite Berg (7-12 Mental Health Professional), Sonja Ringsrud (7-12 School Psychologist), Leigha Patton (9-12 Academic Counselor), Trace Prael (9-12 Academic Counselor) and Colleen Chan and her 2022 replacement (7-12 Student Support Advocate).  

 

If you haven’t yet, please complete the South Whidbey Community Wellness Coalition survey. This survey helps us understand the perception of the health of our youth, related to mental health and substance use. This survey is a grant requirement and allows us to offer support to youth and families in our community. Please do the survey TODAY, the link expires midnight Wednesday the 15th of December.

https://www.research.net/r/ISSOWHEN2021\

 

In case you are looking for an opportunity to get a COVID vaccine, Island County Public Health has additional clinics with all three vaccine manufacturers available at their Mobile Vaccination Clinics for ages 5+, including Third Doses (18+) and Boosters (18+). Boosters for 16-17 will be available if Standing Orders are issued by WA DOH at the time of a clinic.  Please sign up through their sign up links:

 

It is my fervent hope that we all take time during this break to breathe more easily and get some much needed rest and “down” time. I wish you a wonderful holiday season that exceeds your expectations!  



Sincerely,

 

Jo Moccia, Superintendent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 2, 2021

Dear Students, Staff and Community,

As you know from last night’s message, yesterday, at 2:25PM on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, Sheriff's Deputies notified our SWHS Principal that a possible threat was made against students at the 7-12 campus. The threat was made by a current High School student two weeks ago via social media to a relative living in the Spokane area.  Our information from the Sheriff indicates that the relative notified their Spokane counselor yesterday. The counselor understood that the student in question was a student at a Whidbey Island School. The counselor then called the Island County Sheriff who initiated an investigation and alerted our school yesterday afternoon. 

The South Whidbey student was arrested and the Island County Sheriff is continuing to investigate the situation. We are working together with the Island County Sheriff to ensure the safety of our students, staff and community. The student will not be allowed on our campus. The Island County Sheriff has determined through their continuing investigation that this is not a significant or imminent threat to our school or community.

Safety is our first priority and we, as always, are following our district safety plan. We have locked all outside school doors to all school buildings during the school hours. The Island County Sheriff’s office is on alert and will continue to be around our campuses this week. We understand the fear and concern our staff, students and families feel in the wake of the recent school tragedy in Michigan. Please call the Sheriff directly if you have questions or information on this or any other threat to safety for our students and staff.  

Sincerely,

Jo Moccia, Superintendent

 

 

 

December 1, 2021

 

Dear Staff. Students and Families, 

 

At 2:25PM on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, Sheriff's Deputies notified the SWHS Principal that a possible threat was made against students at the 7-12 campus.   The possible threat was made by a current High School student two weeks ago via social media to a relative living in the Spokane area.  The relative notified their own school counselor who then called the Island County Sheriff.  Only today, did South Whidbey become aware of the threat.

 The student was arrested this afternoon and remains in the custody of the Island County Sheriff. The student has also been Emergency Expelled and will not be allowed on any SWSD property until an investigation is completed by the Island County Sheriff's Department and SWHS administration.

Our students' safety is the primary concern of our staff.  As a precaution, we'll increase our supervision of the interior and exterior of the 7-12 campus and ask our Sheriff's Department for their presence.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jo Moccia
SWSD Superintendent

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 27, 2021 

 

Dear South Whidbey Staff, Students and Families:

 

Welcome back to school for the 2021-2022 school year! 

 

We have full days of staff training on Monday and Tuesday and are excited to see students in classes on Wednesday, September 1st.  Please check our website for helpful information www.sw.wednet.edu. There you will find the school calendarsschool hours, transportation detailsCovid 21-22 Updates and much more. The top right corner of the website has a search engine to find what you need, the top left corner has a drop down menu for each of the school websites. 

 

SWSD is working in close partnership with Island County Public Health and following the guidance for schools outlined earlier this month by the WA Dept. of Health. Flow charts that summarize the communication plan and action for an exposed or symptomatic individual are being updated and will be on the website under the Covid 21-22 Updates . The following is a brief summary of key elements.

 

1. Our safe and successful return to school relies on the following mitigation measures:

  • wearing masks
  • getting vaccinated
  • physical distancing
  • ensuring maximum ventilation 
  • frequent hand hygiene and cleaning
  • staying home when sick
  • isolating/quarantining and contact tracing

If an individual has been exposed or experiences symptoms of COVID-19, the staff member or family should communicate immediately with the school nurse who will inform school administrators. The individual will be offered testing through the school and quarantined to monitor for symptoms. Note: Fully vaccinated individuals are EXEMPT from quarantine UNLESS symptoms arise.  

 

If an individual receives a positive test result, they remain in quarantine for 10 days and the district assists Island County Public Health with contact tracing. Every person who is identified as a "close contact" will immediately receive notice from the school administrator or nurse. The greater school community can monitor cases through the COVID Dashboard posted on the District website. If results are negative, quarantine continues for 14 days. (Test-to-stay protocols may be approved in the near future that reduce the length of quarantine.) 

 

In summary, our strength during this pandemic is our individual and collective actions to reduce the risk of transmission. The most valuable measures are wearing masks, getting vaccinated as eligible, and avoiding "close contact" scenarios. Thank you for your teamwork! 

 

Sincerely,

 

Dr. Jo Moccia, Superintendent

 

 

Welcome back 21-22

August 18, 2021

Dear Parents/Guardians,

I am writing to share information about a new legal requirement for school employees in Washington state. On August 18, 2021, Governor Jay Inslee announced a new directive legally requiring all K–12 school district employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination or a medical or religious exemption by mid-October. 

This proclamation does not apply to students. The COVID-19 vaccine is not required for students. The proclamation also does not replace the requirement for all staff and students to wear masks or face coverings in schools and on school buses.

Please note that this announcement will not delay our return to school buildings this fall. Our first day of school will continue to be on September 1, 2021

Some of the key elements of the proclamation are outlined below:

  • South Whidbey School District and our Board of Directors do not have local control over this matter. We are legally required to follow the Governor’s directive. Employees may obtain a medical or religious exemption.
  • There is not an option to undergo regular testing for COVID-19 instead of receiving a vaccination or exemption.
  • Employees will need to provide proof of vaccination. Attestation is not an allowable substitute for vaccination. 
  • Vaccination is a condition of employment in the proclamation. Only a medical or religious exemption will substitute for the vaccine requirement.

Again, this proclamation does not include vaccine requirements for students but we strongly encourage vaccination for all who are eligible.  We are sharing this information so families understand some of the health and safety requirements in place for the 2021–22 school year.

Sincerely, 

Dr. Jo Moccia

 


August 13, 2021 PDF Copy Linked Here


Dear South Whidbey Families,

 

Last week,  I sent a letter (linked here)  with information on returning to school September 1st.  In that information I indicated that students will be masked except for lunch in the cafeteria and time outside. 

 

Several families contacted me with concerns about students being unmasked and in close contact given the emergence of the delta variant and the surge in disease activity.

 

We are reevaluating our lunch plans and will revise it in an effort to prevent risk of close contact. We are looking at a number of different options that will not change the full time in person status of students at school. These options include but are not limited to:

  • Lunch in the classroom
  • Lunch outside in tents
  • Smaller lunch groups in the lunchroom

Today, at 9am, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chris Reykdal, held a media briefing (linked here). In his briefing he reviewed his request of Governor Jay Inslee to take executive action to require all K12 school employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment.

 

The safety of our students and staff is of paramount importance to us as a district. Please rest assured that we will follow all protocols recommended by the State.

 

For now, you can get your scholar ready for returning to school in person by practicing wearing their masks in public.  Keeping your scholar home if they are not feeling well is essential.  Once school begins, we will have Covid testing available at school for all students, staff and family members. 

 

If you think you might be eligible, please complete the 21-22 Free and Reduced Forms (linked here). This eligibility may apply towards ASB, Athletics and Class fees. 

 

Transportation routes, bell schedules and all of the final details are still being finalized at the district and building level. You can expect that they will look much like they did when we began the 2019-2020 school year. Please check your emails daily for updates from your schools, principals and teachers.. 

 

School building offices open on Monday.  We are excited for our students who will be coming to attend the summer jumpstart, Orca Reading and kindergarten camp programs.   Multiple high school students have completed or are completing their credit recovery programs. We are so proud of these scholars who buckled down through the summer to focus and move forward in their education. 

 

Please enjoy the remainder of your summer.  

 

 

Sincerely,

 Jo Moccia, Superintendent

 

 

 

August 6, 2021  PDF Copy linked here.

Dear South Whidbey Families:

We are looking forward to the 2021-2022 school year!  School begins for students on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. We will be in school full time and our Wednesday schedule will continue to be early release.  Please check the 21-22 instructional calendar linked here for complete details.

As of today, we are required by law to be masked indoors while at school regardless of vaccination status.  Governor Inslee, Washington Department of Health (WaDOH), and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) have made this very clear to all school districts across the state.  Our district will enforce this mandate.

We are no longer required to do health attestations, but we will offer Covid testing onsite for all. Parents/Guardians will be contacted if a student has symptoms.  Of course, no testing will take place without parent/guardian permission. Covid cases will continue to be updated on the district website linked here.

The district will continue mitigation efforts including air cleaners and increased ventilation, physical distancing to the maximum extent possible (three (3) feet between students and six (6) feet between adults as well as adults and students). Exceptions include students requiring adult assistance.  Students will use the cafeteria and will be able to remove masks while eating and when outside.

We strongly encourage all those eligible for Covid vaccines to obtain them.  Our staff are over 95% vaccinated.  There is no legal mandate to get vaccinated to attend school at this time.  Science indicates that our best defense against Covid includes vaccination.  Please see the Washington Department of Health website linked here.

We look forward to continuing our work to meet the vision, mission and goals adopted by our Board of Directors.    

Our Vision:

Every South Whidbey School District Student is a lifelong learner who is multi-culturally engaged, literate, and an active community member able to meet the challenges of our global society.

 Our Mission:

In collaboration with our community, every student will be supported to be a resilient, innovative, compassionate, and productive graduate prepared for a diverse and dynamic world.

Our Values:

Accountability, Collaboration, Communication, Compassion, Equity, Empathy, Integrity, Resilience, Respect and Responsibility

Our specific goals for 2021-2022, adopted by the Board on July 28th are:

Goal 1: Restorative Conversations:

Dr. Moccia will lead the district’s engagement in and facilitation of restorative conversations with students, staff, families, and community members leading toidentification of new and continuing action areas.

Goal 2: Learning Growth for All Students:

Dr. Moccia will lead the district in prioritizing training and implementation of best practices that create learning environments supportive of every student’s success in the future they choose.

Goal 3: Transformational Communication and Leadership:

Dr. Moccia will participate in and lead the district leadership team in transformational leadership development to dismantle systemic barriers for students.

We are continuing to get ready for school to begin September 1st. The school offices will open to the public on Monday, August 16th.  If you moved or changed your contact information, please make sure to let the school secretaries know. School Supply lists (linked here)  are being added to the websites as they come available.  Transportation route updates (linked here)  will also be posted in the coming weeks. Please check the websites often. There is a search engine on the top right of the websites to search for what you are looking for. If you can’t find it online, you can always email the district at info@sw.wednet.edu.  Read up on the monthly SWSD District Navigator Newsletter for updates on what is happening in the district. If you are not receiving the Navigator newsletter, please check with your school registrar to make sure your email address is up to date.  Additionally, you can find current and past newsletters on our website linked here.

 Enjoy the rest of your summer. We will see you soon!

Sincerely,

Jo Moccia, Superintendent

 

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