March 18 update on drive-thru meals, online learning

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.

Online learning

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.

Resources

Stay safe and take care,

Greg Baker