Updates for families returning to school in November: safety agreement, food and more

A Message from the Department of Teaching and Learning

Dear families with students in kindergarten, first grade and elementary Life Skills and BRIDGES,

We are very excited to welcome you back into our schools and classrooms next month. By now, you have likely heard from your teacher and/or your school about returning to in-person instruction and have read Dr. Baker’s update on stages 2 and 3 in our Reconnect Plan to start providing in-person instruction for some students. If not, here is the quick re-cap:

  • On Nov. 2, all students in kindergarten and students in K-2 Life Skills and K-2 BRIDGES begin.
  • On Nov. 12, all students in first grade and students in Grades 3-5 Life Skills and Grades 3-5 BRIDGES begin.

Our schedule will be 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Students and staff will follow the current Wednesday remote learning model. We wanted to share the following updates regarding safety, food services, transportation and family engagement. If you have questions, we encourage you to review our FAQ for families, reach out to your child’s principal or teacher, attend our webinar on Thursday (details below) and read the following updates. We are also preparing a video that will help you to visualize what school will look like for your children, which we will share with families soon.

Safety agreement and health attestation

Mitigating risk and keeping ourselves and each other safe is paramount. This will be a community effort, and we ask that each family review and agree to the family COVID safety agreement to assure other students, families and staff that you will screen your child for symptoms every morning before in-person instruction and will not send them to school when sick.

If your child has any symptoms listed here, do not send the student to school or board the bus. Contact their school to report their absence. If your student exhibits any of these symptoms at school, they will need to be picked up immediately.

It’s also important that students bring and wear a clean mask to school. We have extra masks available at school if needed. Packing a spare mask in your child’s backpack is a good idea. Thank you in advance for your cooperation!

Food services

Every school will be serving breakfast and lunch to every student at no cost. You do not need to have an account to eat one or both of these meals. Students can bring meals from home if they prefer. If you have been picking up our weekly meal boxes, please continue to do so. When you pick up the weekly box, let our food services staff know you have children attending school and eating our meals and you will receive a modified meal box of the fresh items — produce, bread, dairy — and the weekly scratch-made entrée.

Transportation

Eligible riders will receive a separate message regarding riding the bus. Please look for a “register to ride” form soon. You will need your student ID to register. Your child’s student ID can also be found in Skyward Family Access. Families with children who receive specialized transportation will be contacted separately by staff.

Family engagement

Family engagement is one of the key strategies of The Bellingham Promise, and we believe it is a cornerstone for student success. As we transition into in-person instruction, we have asked our teachers in the early grades to dedicate more time to getting themselves and their classrooms ready, so you may notice shorter or fewer family conferences at this time.  As we move into in-person teaching we will continue to prioritize family connections and co-creating learning goals together, however the frequency and duration of the meetings will naturally reduce.  Our staff will continue to prioritize remote teaching and learning with students over the next few weeks. And of course, families are welcome to reach out if/when extra support is needed.

Again, as questions arise, please let us know or talk with your child’s principal or teacher.

Virtual conversation with Dr. Baker

You are also invited to attend a virtual conversation with Superintendent Greg Baker via Zoom at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22 to share more information and address your questions. Please join the meeting using this link. To simply listen in, call 253-215-8782 or 669-900- 6833 and enter webinar ID: 853 9915 6906. You can also submit a question or topic before noon on Oct. 22 via this webform, and we will do our best to provide answers during the meeting. For those of you who cannot make it, we will post a recording of the event on our website sometime on Oct. 23.

Thank you! Please watch for future updates, and our staff are looking forward to welcoming your child to school soon.