In-person instruction plans for second grade and Promise K, signs of hope for 2021

A Message from Superintendent Greg Baker

Dear staff, students, families and community,

Happy 2021, and I hope that you enjoyed some rest and rejuvenation during winter break.

I wanted to provide an update on our plans for this winter and spring, with my usual note that conditions and guidance may change. The disclaimer may not be needed, but I think it is important to continue to acknowledge how quickly things change in the time of COVID-19. You may recall that Gov. Inslee shared new guidance for returning students to in-person instruction on Dec. 16. Shortly thereafter, our local health department released its guidance, which also encourages districts to continue to bring more students back into our schools for in-person instruction.

We are excited to confirm that

  • Second grade will be returning to in-person instruction Thursday, Jan. 14.
  • Promise kindergarten will start in-person instruction Monday, Jan. 25.

Assuming guidance and other factors do not change, we plan to announce dates soon for grades 3-12 returning to school later in January and February. We continue to work on the planning details for COVID safety protocols, instructional models and other logistics for these grades, and are hopeful we can continue to return students to school in alignment with the guidance over the next six weeks.

Students in second grade and Promise K will follow our current elementary schedule and attend class from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays will continue to be used for remote learning, family engagement, and collaboration and professional development for staff. Families of students in these grades will receive more information soon.

Signs of hope and other updates

I am feeling optimistic about 2021, and I hope that bringing more students back into our schools is just one sign among many. Another is the start of distribution of the vaccine in our community, a sign that the end of this pandemic may be in sight. We are working with our local health department and medical providers to ensure that our staff and community are aware of vaccine priorities, availability and access. We will share this information as we learn more.

We have developed a dashboard for Bellingham Public Schools that shows the number of confirmed cases in our schools that have required contact tracing, per health department guidance. You can also learn more about our notification process for contact tracing and reporting below the dashboard on that webpage.

And one final reminder, our weekly meal box distribution is back in full swing starting today Wednesday, Jan. 6. Please remember to stop by any of our 21 distribution sites between 4 and 5:30 p.m. The boxes are free to all children 18 and under, and those served in Community Transitions, and they support local jobs and local suppliers as much as possible.

Here’s to hope and optimism in the new year!

Greg Baker