A Message from Superintendent Greg Baker
Dear staff, students, families and community,
It’s hard to believe this is only day three of our closure. It feels like we’ve already been through so much, but I know the greater context is that we have only just begun. Our task is to create a bridge from now to when we get back to normal.
Free meals for students
I’ll start with some exciting news. We’re making great progress on our plans to provide free drive-thru and/or delivery meals to students starting Monday, March 23. See our FAQ for more information; we will share times, locations and other details as soon as we can. We are continuing to refine our protocols with community partners and agencies. We plan to provide lunch and breakfast Monday through Friday for as long as we are able.
For those familiar with the meals we have provided during snow days, this will look quite different. We’ve received some questions related to the timing of this service, with wonders why we couldn’t start providing meals sooner. The answer has everything to do with the additional warnings from Governor Jay Inslee and the growing concerns related to the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
We are acutely aware of the needs of our students and community, and we need to balance those needs with the new reality of safety concerns and responsibilities of social distancing. We want to provide food to students in the best way possible, meaning we don’t want to do something wrong while trying to do something right. Our food services team is going to great lengths to change their norms and processes to improve safety protocols, including working in shifts to prepare meals so that we don’t have too many people working in the Central Kitchen together at the same time. I’m proud of our food services team for their innovation, and this would not be possible without the support and generosity of Bellingham Public Schools Foundation. Please consider giving to BPSF if you are so inclined during this challenging time.
Another update is regarding online learning. Some staff have already been reaching out to families and students to provide resources and ideas for learning during the closure, and in the coming days and weeks, families and students should expect to hear from more from principals and teachers.
Please extend grace to one another (and yourselves) when it comes these efforts. I want to clarify that we are not trying to replicate a typical classroom experience in an online environment. We are in the midst of an evolving health crisis, and we need to approach at-home learning with patience and innovation, especially when we consider the number of people in our community who are ill, taking care of loved ones or lacking basic needs.
I know teaching and learning is incredibly important; it’s why I went into education – along with our 1,600 other staff! And as we express appreciation to our incredible teachers, principals, ed. tech coaches and directors for all their work and efforts, nothing is more important than protecting life, promoting safety and minimizing the spread of the virus.
- That said, I’m hearing concerns from families, community members and health professionals that they’re seeing adults and kids continue to gather in large groups. I encourage you to learn more about social distancing recommendations; please read and share the Health Department’s Guidelines for Informal Gatherings of Children and Youth While Schools are Closed.
- Check our FAQ, which we regularly update to serve as a resource for our community, and includes information regarding drive-thru meals and child care during the closure.
- Other valuable resources are the CDC and Whatcom County Health Department websites.
- This New York Times article provides some good advice regarding parenting during this challenging time.
- And for those of you who could use a quick laugh, I received some constructive comments (AND gratitude!) when I shared the COVID-10 daily schedule as an example of how parents could structure their days during the closure. Here are a couple humorous twists on the original that may be more relatable!
Stay safe and take care,