COVID-19: March 6 Update

Dear students, staff, families and community,

As we finish up this busy week, I wanted to take time to send an update regarding COVID-19, which obviously remains a topic of conversation and concern throughout our global community.

I hope our students enjoyed a restful day off today while our staff engaged in important learning and professional development. In addition to providing our custodial staff extra time to clean today without students present, our district leaders spent much of today making contingency plans and monitoring situations across our state.

I want to assure you that we are taking steps to make informed decisions for our schools, and we are continuing to update our  FAQ regularly. Today we added more information about school activities and field trips, e-learning, and whether closures are possible.

Currently, the Whatcom County Health DepartmentWashington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control are not recommending school closures, as long as we are able to maintain appropriate supervision and adequate services. We will continue to collaborate with these health organizations, because the safety of our students, staff and families remains our top priority.

You may hear that health authorities are recommending people avoid groups of more than 50 people, yet they are not advising school closures in general. This guidance may seem confusing because schools bring together large groups of children; however, in the case of schools, health authorities note that school closures have significant negative impacts on communities, such as:

  • Closing schools may not be effective because some children may congregate anyway at other locations
  • Many parents, such as healthcare workers, need to be at work. If these critical workers stay home with children it causes significant impacts on the healthcare system and other institutions that are essential for our community to function
  • If schools close, some children might have to stay home with alternative caregivers, such as elders, who are more vulnerable

We know that some children and staff may be at higher risk for severe illness because of underlying health conditions or a weakened immune system. The Washington State Department of Health advises that those people consult with their healthcare provider to decide the best course of action.

I welcome your questions, and I thank those of you who have reached out with messages of support and care for our hardworking staff.

If anything should change, we will communicate like we do for inclement weather. Please take a moment to make sure you have updated your family’s communication preferences in Skyward Family Access following the instructions at bellinghamschools.org/skylert.

Thanks again for all your support…and please have a wonderful weekend,

Greg Baker