Ferndale School District Reopening Taskforce Update: Full Distance Learning to Start School Year
- Posted August 5, 2020
The Ferndale School District Reopening Taskforce is announcing a weekly update and additional information in advance of reopening in Fall 2020.
On Tuesday, August 4th, the Whatcom County Health Department recommended that public and private schools in Whatcom County prepare for remote instruction.
Given this recommendation and review of health and safety data surrounding COVID-19, as well as feedback from public health experts, families and staff, the district’s executive leadership team, the school board and the Ferndale Reopening Taskforce, the Ferndale School District has made the decision to start the 2020-2021 school year with full distance learning for all students.
In a letter to Whatcom County Superintendents, Whatcom County Health Department Officer Dr. Greg Stern advised, “Based on the COVID?19 disease activity in Whatcom County and our region, I do not feel it is safe to open schools in September for traditional classroom learning. I expect that our current infection rate and its ongoing increase will not slow or reverse enough to allow for safe operations this fall. Given the situation and the lead time needed to prepare for school operations, I strongly recommend against preparing to offer in-class instruction and that instead, you prepare for remote learning and provision of support services in the absence of classroom teaching.”
Ferndale School District Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn says, “The health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority. While school will definitely be back in session in September, it will look different than it did before the pandemic. It will also look different than it did last spring. We learned some valuable lessons last school year that have helped us prepare for 2020–21. For one thing, we have formed partnerships with experienced distance learning providers to support Ferndale teachers as they deliver learning in online classrooms.”
The District previously announced learning options for families. Although all students will be remote to begin the school year, when it is safe to bring some students and staff back into our buildings for instruction, families will have a choice whether to have their children continue distance learning or participate in a hybrid model with alternating days for in-person learning.
The Ferndale School Board held a Special Meeting on Tuesday, August 4th to discuss reopening plans. During the meeting, several board members expressed their concern for families – all supported the move to remote learning to start the year.
Ferndale School Board President Andrew McLaurin says, “I can speak for my fellow board members. We are concerned that this continued closure adds another layer of hardship for our families but, given the recommendation from the Whatcom County Health Department, we see no other option but to reopen remotely. We have asked our staff and the Ferndale Reopening Taskforce to continue planning for when students return to our buildings.”
In consultation with the Whatcom County Department of Health, the District will continue to re-evaluate health conditions throughout the school year including at the end of each quarter.
Families will receive a reopening survey for the purpose of determining technology and other student needs prior to the beginning of the school year.
The Ferndale School District Reopening Taskforce began meeting on July 7th and will continue meeting weekly through August 18th. The District re-opening plan must be delivered in final format to OSPI by August 19th.
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