Return to School Information for Families
Taking care of yourself and your family is taking care of your community.
If you are well enough to come to school:
- Wear your mask. We will provide masks for those who need them.
- Maintain your physical distance (six feet or more).
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water.
Our teachers and staff will be reinforcing these routines and practices.
School Day Information
All families will complete a health attestation before entering school buildings. Stay home if you have any symptoms listed on our COVID safety agreement for families webpage. If your child begins to feel unwell during the school day they will be directed to a screening room and families will be notified if their child needs to be picked up from school.
Information for students:
Students 12 years and older are now able to get vaccinated. Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is the only one available to children 12 years and older. Parental consent is required.
We encourage all families to consider immunizing their student against COVID-19 to protect their child’s and family’s health and also the health of our schools and community. View the Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine informational flyer "What Parents of Minors Should Know."
Getting fully vaccinated will allow your student to do some things they couldn’t before. For example, if your student is fully vaccinated and has been around someone who has COVID-19, they do not need to quarantine (be away from other people) or get tested unless they have symptoms.
- Parents/guardians can look for eligible vaccine appointments for their children by going on https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov/ and searching for vaccine locations in their area.
- Call Washington State Department of Health’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-VAX-HELP (833-829-4357) for assistance. They can tell you which locations near you offer the COVID-19 vaccine, and help you schedule an appointment if needed. This line also has Spanish, Russian, Punjabi and other language options.
Vaccine facts from the CDC:
- COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and help protect you from getting sick or severely ill with COVID-19.
- You may have side effects after vaccination, but these are normal.
- Vaccines are available at no cost to you and health insurance is not required. The vaccine will be provided at no cost. It will be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance. The cost of the vaccine will be covered for people who are uninsured.
- It typically takes two weeks after vaccination for the body to build protection (immunity) against the virus that causes COVID-19. You are not fully vaccinated until two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or two weeks after a one-dose vaccine.
- If you have already had COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you still get vaccinated against COVID-19.
- People who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things they had stopped doing because of the pandemic.
Learn more facts about COVID-19 vaccines at the CDC website.
Families and students will receive messaging from their schools and the district reminding them to do a daily self-assessment of symptoms. This is called our COVID-19 Safety Agreement for Families.
Families must complete a health attestation for every student in order to return to in-person learning. This can be filled out by the family or on behalf of the family by a school staff member. The health attestation is required quarterly.
Middle and High School
Students in middle and high school will use a similar check in/out system that staff do for their daily health attestation. Students can access the check in/out link on their school website under Students or by scanning a QR code using their phone. Families will also complete the quarterly health attestation as part of our COVID-19 Safety Agreement for Families.
Staff and students should not come to school if they are experiencing any symptoms associated with COVID-19.
- Fever (100.4° F or higher) or chills
- Cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Sore throat, nasal congestion, or runny nose
- Recent loss of taste or smell
- Muscle or body aches
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Unusual fatigue
Staff and students should not come to school or work if they are a close contact with anyone that has COVID-19, has had a positive COVID-19 test for active virus in the past 10 days, or has within the last 14 days been told to self-monitor, self-isolate, or self-quarantine because of concerns about a COVID-19 infection.
Whether arriving by school bus, walking, biking or by car, all staff, students, families and visitors must be wearing a mask, even while outside and physically distant.
Disposable and reusable masks are available for students and staff who need them.
At this time, families and visitors will not be allowed to enter our schools. Elementary students will be greeted at the door by school staff.
While arrival and dismissal have traditionally been times for families to gather and socialize, we are asking that families keep moving and do not gather in groups. At the end of the day, we ask that students keep moving. If walking home, they need to head directly home. If taking the bus, they should head to and board the bus. If waiting to be picked up, they should be standing outside physically distanced.
Entering the Classroom
For grades K-5, as students arrive in the classroom, staff will take the student’s temperature. All students will need to have their temperature checked and to wash their hands. If the student has a temperature 100.4 or above, they will be guided to the Screening Room which in most cases is the staff room.
Grades 6-12 will start with a health evaluation upon entry to their homeroom. During the health evaluation students will wash their hands or use hand sanitizer, and in collaboration with the teacher students will attest to their own health using our daily digital check-in tool.
Kindergarten and First Grade
Classrooms have been reorganized to make additional space but to keep them playful and developmentally appropriate. Seating will be flexible and marks on the floor will help promote distancing. Sit spots will show where students can choose to work independently on the floor. Alternative seating like scoop chairs and rockers can also be provided.
Each child will have access to their own set of school supplies and will learn to manage their supplies independently. All children will be given a lap desk to hold their materials and provide a space to work independently.
Classroom space has been selected that allows each student to maintain physical distance and have independent workspace. This may be a different classroom or common space depending on the school building. Students use their own school-supplied computer to join remote learning. Students will have assigned seating.
Every school will be serving breakfast and lunch to every student at no cost. You do not need to have an account to eat one or both of these meals. Students can bring meals from home if they prefer. If you have been picking up our weekly meal boxes, please continue to do so. When you pick up the weekly box, let our food services staff know you have children attending school and eating our meals and you will receive a modified meal box of the fresh items — produce, bread, dairy — and the weekly scratch-made entrée.
Every school will serve meals differently due to difference in layout and space. Each school will practice the best social distancing and safety protocols for their site.
Students wash hands or get hand sanitizer before eating. Children will be distanced from one another at their tables for eating. Staff may help open food items wearing gloves and wearing procedural/blue mask. Face shield, if preferred by staff, can be worn. After eating students put their mask back on.
Middle and High School
Middle and high school student eating areas will be dependent on the school; in most cases, students will eat in the cafeteria with seating arranged to honor physical distancing. When possible, outdoor seating is also acceptable although students will need to keep a distance of at least six feet from each other. Students will need to practice good hygiene by washing hands before and after mealtime.
Drinking fountains are closed throughout the building. We encourage students to bring a water bottle to school to support their needs. Students may step out of the classroom to take a drink and then return to the classroom. Quick snacks should be managed like a drink of water.
High school students will have grab and go breakfast/lunch combo meals available for them to take as they leave at the end of their in-person instruction day.
Students will still have access to the playgrounds and fields. However, play areas will be divided into zones. The focus will be on keeping appropriate space during play, and all students will wash their hands after recess.
If a student begins to feel unwell during the school day, they will be directed to a designated screening room. There a school nurse or trained staff member will check the child’s temperature and assess their symptoms. Parents will be notified if their child needs to be picked up from school. The student’s workspace should be immediately cleaned and disinfected.
We have adopted a districtwide philosophy of “all screening, all the time,” where all adults are asked to be vigilant about assessing students for symptoms of illness.
Every family is required to have up-to-date contact information and emergency contacts in Skyward and Seesaw. Families can visit our Skylert instructions webpage for instructions on how to update their contact information.
Return to School Middle School - in Spanish
We follow Washington DOH, OSPI and L&I guidance for masks. All students and staff are required to wear masks in school. Some students may be unable to wear a mask due to medical or other conditions. Our behavior and health teams work with these students, families, and classrooms on an individual basis to support them in safely accessing their education.
Students will be provided masks to wear at school, and are also allowed to wear their own as long as it fits our requirements. Students will need to launder their masks at home. We will also have disposable and reusable masks available in case of forgotten, lost, or soiled masks that need to be changed.
We expect that students and staff not wear gaiters, bandanas, or valve masks due to CDC recommendations. If a student or staff member is wearing one of the above, we will provide them with a mask to change into. If a student or staff member needs an accommodation they should work with their principal or supervisor individually.
Masks are essential to limiting spread of COVID-19 and increased layers of masks will increase protection. On Feb. 10, the CDC released research on increased efficacy of masks by layering and fit. The Washington state Department of Health has not made any changes to their guidance.
The CDC suggests selecting masks that: have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric; completely cover nose and mouth; fit snugly against the sides of your face and don’t have gaps; have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask.
When layering masks, the CDC says not to double mask a KN95 or any disposable masks; a single snug fitting KN95 OR a procedural mask with a cloth face mask on top are two examples of variations that increase effectiveness.
Using Infofinder to find your bus stop and time:
If your child will be riding the bus to/from school, you can find their bus stop and time at Infofinder. Enter your street address (no zip code or school) and you will be able to see the location and times for your child. Please note that as enrollment changes we will make adjustments to bus stops and times as needed, and you can always see the most up-to-date information by checking Infofinder.
Key safety reminders:
- Please arrive at the bus stop five minutes prior to the scheduled time in the morning.
- Masks are required while on the bus. Please have your mask on when the bus arrives.
- Some rows/seats may be roped off for physical distancing. Any roped off seats will not be used. Currently front row seats will not be used.
- On the bus, students should sit near the window. Siblings will sit in the same seat.
For transportation help or questions:
If you have any questions about transportation, please contact your school office, or call transportation directly at 360-676-6546
Our schedule will be 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Students and staff will follow the current Wednesday remote learning model.
Elementary Hybrid 4-5
For our elementary hybrid model all students will be given the opportunity to attend in-person school two days per week. School will take place from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Middle School Hybrid
Middle school starts at 9:15 a.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m. On Wednesdays, students will remain home, following the Wednesday schedule we have been using since school started this year. Students will be divided into cohorts that attend school two days per week in the hybrid schedule.
High School Hybrid
All high schools will start at 8:30 a.m. and dismiss at 12:30 p.m. with asynchronous learning in the afternoon. Students will be divided into cohorts that attend school two days per week in the hybrid schedule. The Wednesday schedule will remain the same. Options High School starts its regular hybrid schedule March 8.
Find more information about our remote and hybrid schedules for elementary, middle and high school.
Viruses do not typically survive on surfaces for an extended period of time. To clean surfaces and objects wipe them down with the provided cleaner and disinfectant wipes. The most effective way to remove the virus is using a towel and cleaner to wipe it away. Just like when you wash your hands and the virus goes down the drain with the soap and water, the virus on the surface is wiped onto the towel. After cleaning, dispose of single-use towel or launder reusable towel.
Custodians clean and sanitize used spaces daily and high use areas multiple times per day.
To ensure used spaces get clean make sure your building team is communicating with custodians on which work spaces are being used. If working remotely from the classroom, teachers should try and use one area of the classroom. If using a part of the classroom outside of your normal area, leave an obvious note for the custodian.
Middle and high school students clean their own desk before leaving the classroom. All rooms have access to cleaner and paper towels. This cleaner is effective at removing virus and is safe to use.
Do not bring in your own cleaning products. Mixing cleaning chemicals can be hazardous. Every building has access to appropriate cleaning products. If you need more, ask your custodian.
- Spray bottles of cleaner
- Disinfectant wipes
- Cleaning rags
Custodians order cleaning supplies through the district work request system. Coordinate with the staff requesting supplies and the building custodian.
Case Response Cleaning
If a student begins to feel unwell during the school day, they will be directed to a designated screening room. There, a school nurse or trained staff member will check their temperature and assess their symptoms. Parents will be notified if their student needs to be picked up from school. The student’s workspace will immediately be cleaned and disinfected.
Our COVID-19 dashboard shows confirmed positive cases of Bellingham Public Schools students or staff engaged in in-person learning or work at a district site. If no contact tracing and no closures are required in a small in-person learning community it may not be possible to share data and also protect confidential health information. The Washington State Department of Health small numbers reporting guidelines provides more information about data reporting and protecting confidential health information.
We have protocols in place for both suspected and confirmed cases within our schools. Each situation is unique and will be handled on a case by case basis. For more information on the guidance we are using, please see this flow chart from the Washington State Department of Health.
If your child begins to feel unwell during the school day, they will be directed to a designated screening room. There a school nurse or trained staff member will check your child’s temperature and assess their symptoms. Families will be notified if their child needs to be picked up from school.
If there was a positive case for a student or staff, then anyone determined to be a close contact would have to quarantine. The school district and the health department will work together to determine close contacts, and will work together to communicate any action steps students, staff or families would need to take.
Return to School Information for Staff