Update – Schools Closed Thursday

A Message from Superintendent Greg Baker

Students, Families and Staff,

It’s Wednesday afternoon, and I know everyone is anxious for an update about Thursday and what will happen with graduations and the end of the school year. I am going to take a moment right now to share with you my current reflections and thoughts.  Please know though that things still might change, so remain open to adjustments.

First, the conditions throughout our city right now are not good. While it’s sunny and looking better in many areas, last night’s additional snow negatively impacted all the previous work that had been done to clear the roads. Kudos need to go out to our city and county employees who have been working non-stop to clear our streets. Also a thanks to our district staff who have been working to clear our parking lots, sidewalks and areas around our schools. Like the roads, last night’s additional snow hampered our efforts to make our facilities safe and accessible. After talking with our staff and others in the community, the task of ensuring safe conditions for tomorrow is just too overwhelming.  As I just drove the city, people are walking in the streets due to unsafe sidewalks, parking lots are either deep in snow or potentially turning into ice arenas.  Due to these conditions, we will remain closed tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 14.

Our food services staff and leadership team have been delivering meals to many students and families throughout this afternoon, nearly 500 meals. I got to experience firsthand the joy of several kids as I delivered a hot lunch to a family at their apartment. I also observed hopefulness from a mom that school would be in session as soon as possible.

I share this to help us all keep perspective.  That yes, while we may be missing schools or practices, what’s even more important is to ensure all our students and families remain warm, fed and safe.  As a district, we are working hard to support our community. We have numerous partner agencies helping.  And most importantly, it’s up to each person in our city to do what they can to help their neighbors. This is the essence of The Bellingham Promise and our One Schoolhouse strategy; we take care of each other as if we were all under one roof.

Finally, with regards to graduation and the end of the school year, we will not be able to make final decisions until we get through this weather over the next few weeks. As we have suggested all year, I recommend not to make commitments the week after school is currently scheduled to end, as it’s always possible that we have to extend the year.  As of this moment, I would anticipate us going to school potentially through the week of June 17th, depending on upcoming weather, with graduations around the weekend of June 14-15.

Once the weather clears up, we will be working with the state to see if we can receive waivers for some of the missed days, with the goal of avoiding taking school into the following week of June 24. We will see what mother nature has in store for us though next week and beyond. I have heard from a number of you about vacations and graduation plans, so I know it’s on folks’ minds. I will commit to keeping you all updated as things change and decisions are made, and in return, I ask that you continue trusting we are doing the very best we can.

In conclusion, thank you for all the patience and support.  I know it’s not easy for anyone right now (well, there are a few kids out there having a blast!).

Take care, stay warm and safe.

Greg Baker