Local effort is teaching in a  ‘virtual format’

WHATCOM — Gov. Jay Inslee and Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal announced Monday that schools in Washington will remain closed through the end of the 2019-20 year.

  The closures are a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and Washington’s effort to curb the virus’s spread.

  School superintendents around Whatcom County reacted to the news online, communicating with families that learning will need to continue in a decidedly different format moving forward for the rest of this school year.

  “We are absolutely focused on supporting our students, families and staff right now,” Ferndale Superintendent Linda Quinn wrote on the Ferndale School District website Monday. “This (state) announcement confirms what we had been hearing as a rumor thus far — we will not be returning to classrooms this year. The 2019-20 school year will continue in a virtual format. Right now, we want all families to know that our staff are pushing forward with learning plans and on transitioning to this new way of instruction. Beginning April 13, new learning is planned at every level.”

  Nooksack Valley schools Superintendent Mark Johnson outlined a variety of areas that school leaders will continue exploring as the closure continues. These include: how schools can continue learning and progress, what can be realistically accomplished with students at this time, how the current model can be improved, how best to partner with students and parents, how to support families and what barriers must be mitigated.

  “These questions will likely require some differentiation based on ages of students, needs of students, needs of families, etc.,” Johnson wrote. “Not every home looks the same. Thankfully, children and families are all different, with different strengths and challenges. Our physical schools are now closed, but learning is still ‘open for business.’ Learning is just now being relocated and reimagined. Let’s continue to figure out how to make the most of this unbelievable situation. We have work to do. Let’s do it together, for our children. As always, I know we’ll be our level best, and our best will be better tomorrow than it is today.”

  Meridian Superintendent James Everett expressed the district’s feelings regarding the closure extension.

  “We had hoped we would return together this spring. I’m sorry to share this update. Spring is such an exciting time to experience the culmination of learning and the relationships that have been growing from the beginning of the year. I can assure you, students and parents — we are also devastated this is our reality,” Everett wrote. “Now that we have a clear understanding of our status, we will continue to ensure we address health and safety, delivery of meals, support for child care, and continuous learning. As I shared in my letter included in this week’s learning content, we are shifting to expand our educational offerings and access to technology.”