New dates: bringing back students and staff in grades 3-8

A Message from Superintendent Greg Baker

Dear staff, students, families and community,

Whenever we announce plans, we ask for understanding that things could change based on guidance from local and state health officials. We also know that our staff, students and families are asking for dates to help them prepare.

Dates for in-person instruction for elementary and middle school

Elementary

  • Grade 3 return Thursday, Feb. 18
  • Grades 4 and 5 return Thursday, Feb. 25

Middle school

  • Grade 6 return Thursday, Feb. 18
  • Grade 7 return Thursday, Feb. 25
  • Grade 8 return Thursday, March 4

Grade 3 will follow our current elementary schedule: 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday schedule. Grades K-2 will stay on their current schedule.

Grades 4-8 will follow a hybrid schedule, which means a combination of remote and in-person teaching and learning with students coming to school two days per week.

Please look for more detailed information coming from your principal and school, including options for families not quite ready to return in-person.

We continue to evaluate high school and will have more information soon. Right now, we have some students participating in special programs, internet café, sports and select classes (e.g. ceramics, drum line, etc.), and we hope to increase these offerings in the coming days.

Key factors influencing our plans

We are announcing these new dates based on several factors.

  • The number of COVID cases in Whatcom County has been declining after a post-holiday bump. Preliminary numbers are currently ~ 318 per 100,000 residents after a spike of ~ 530 per 100,000 residents Jan. 15.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Gov. Jay Inslee, the state superintendent, the Washington state Department of Health and the Whatcom County Health Dept continue to guide school districts to bring more students back for in-person instruction and follow safety protocols and mitigation strategies.
  • We continue to work closely with our staff and labor organizations to ensure our staff know our safety protocols and support the steps we are taking to mitigate risk.
  • I hear from families daily asking us to bring more students back to school, often with a strong emphasis on social emotional and mental health concerns of their children, especially when it comes to isolation and motivation.

Resources for reopening

Middle school: I encourage you to watch this video we produced to help you imagine what school will look like with our new safety protocols. Again, please watch for more updates from your principal and child’s teacher.


Elementary
: Watch this video to see how we mitigate risk in our elementary schools.

Here are some actions you can take if you have questions and wonders:

Thank you for your continued advocacy to bring students and staff back and to be careful and thoughtful in promoting best practices to take care of one another.

Greg Baker