I wanted to share some thoughts and my gratitude for the students, staff, parents and community members throughout our valley. I know many things are up in the air – not only educationally, but in many aspects of our daily lives during this extraordinary situation. I wanted to share what you can expect from our Snoqualmie Valley School District over the next few weeks.
Schools have always been institutions that can support our communities through a variety of changes, challenges and growth. While they started with the basics of education, schools have expanded to support families with food services, medical needs, mental health support, drug and alcohol education, and much more. This week, we are working on two additional mandates from our governor that will help our economic systems within our communities – continuing food services for students, and supporting childcare needs for parents who work as first responders and healthcare workers. In addition, we are focusing on how we might continue to engage and empower our students in their learning outside of traditional classrooms.
Starting Wednesday this week, we will begin our expanded food service for students throughout our community. This service is not income based but available to any student who may need a free lunch/breakfast to go, Monday – Friday, during the closure. We will be sharing details tomorrow regarding the locations and times to pick up meals.
Offering childcare presents a unique set of challenges. We are working to understand how to balance this childcare mandate with the new recommendation of restricting gatherings over 50 people. We also understand there may be childcare needs beyond those of our healthcare workers and first responders. For example, many of our single or dual-working parents, including hourly-wage earners who cannot afford to miss work, as well as families with students who need specialized care on a daily basis may also need extra support. As we work to partner with other community agencies, I believe we can collectively support the many needs of our community.
This week will also be focused on developing optional remote learning opportunities. This will not look like online learning or a teacher in front of a video screen instructing students six hours a day. Rather, we are hoping to provide optional resources for families to engage in learning activities each day that can be geared towards the standards and concepts that would have been addressed through these six weeks of closure. Washington State Superintendent Chris Reykdal made it clear to all school districts that unless we can provide a robust equitable online learning program for ALL students, with needs that range from ages 3-21, we are only to do what we might do during a typical school break or vacation time. While this is a challenge, we will work with our staff and administrators to support appropriate optional remote learning opportunities for ALL students. We are seeking a balance for our families that can help keep our students on course with the standards and basic concepts so they can be prepared for next year’s content level standards.
During this school closure, the Snoqualmie Valley School District will work to support all our students, staff, parents, community members, and local organizations to the very best of our ability. What I know about this district is that our staff are torn up right now, missing our kids, worried about how they are getting along and desiring to do all they can to support each and every one of them. As educators, we philosophically believe our work is a calling. One that can change the world, break barriers of poverty, abuse, intolerance, and create miracles daily. We are here for all students and look forward to serving our community in whatever capacity we can.
What I also know, is that this community is strong. In my experience as a superintendent, I have not seen such a plethora of local community organizations and agencies standing at the ready to collaborate and join forces to meet the needs of one another. SVSD is in the process of meeting with our community partners and agencies to coordinate and strategize how we might best work together to serve this community efficiently and effectively.
We live in an exceptional area with outstanding individuals, organizations and agencies that are focused on ensuring a safe, healthy and thriving community for all. I have no doubt we will make it though this most recent challenge. If we work together, wash our hands, keep an appropriate social distance, and support one another with compassion, empathy and resources -- will indeed come out the other side stronger and better equipped in the future. As I interact with our youth, our families, our partners, I am extremely confident and proud of this community and hopeful for the future.
Thank you for trusting us and for your grace and patience. By working together, learning from each other, and showing compassion and care for one another, we will get through this unprecedented challenge together.