Blaine Way

SUPERINTENDENT'S MESSAGES

February 4, 2022

Good evening students, staff, families and community, 

We have made it through the first week of February and with it our first full week of in-person learning for all classrooms and grades in our district. Between short weeks and quarantined classrooms, we hadn’t yet had a full week, so this is something to celebrate.

As reflected on our COVID-19 Dashboard, the number of cases in our schools has dropped dramatically since our one week pause of in-person learning. We are hopeful this trend will continue and that every day for the rest of this school year will be in-person learning for everyone. 

Upcoming:

  • Monday, February 14, 2022 - 2 hour late start

  • Friday, February 18, 2022 - Mid Winter Break - No School

  • Monday, February 21, 2022 - President’s Day - No School

  • Monday, February 28, 2022 - 2 hour late start

School Calendar Changes:

  • Monday, May 16, 2022 is now a school day - make up day for 11/16/21

  • Thursday, June 16, 2022 is now a full school day

  • Friday, June 17, 2022 is now a school day - make up day for 12/13/21

  • Friday, June 17, 2022 is now the last day of school and is a half day

We’re Hiring:

If you or someone you know might be interested in part time employment, we are currently hiring for Lunch/Recess Supervision positions in all of the schools on our central campus. It would be a great opportunity for someone looking to pick up some extra income, or for a stay at home parent who wants to fill a few hours a day while their kids are at school. You can view all our current openings via FastTrack, as well as apply online. 

As we turn the corner towards Spring, I hope you are all able to take advantage of the beautiful corner of the world we live in and enjoy some of these longer daylight hours. It’s a great night to be a Borderite, and, as always, a great night to be your superintendent. 

Sincerely,

Dr. Christopher Granger
Every Student. Every Day. In a New Way!

January 28, 2022

Dear students, staff, families and community,

I hope this email finds you and your family in good health. Thank you all for your flexibility and understanding as we have had to make the transition to remote learning this week. 

Returning to In-Person Learning Monday:

The good news is this pause in in-person learning has placed us in a much better situation from a staffing and health perspective, and we are returning all buildings to in-person learning beginning Monday January 31, 2022.  We realize some staff or students may still be out to begin this week due to illness or quarantining. For families that may have questions about a return date in those circumstances, please contact your student’s campus office. Staff members should communicate with their administrators. 

News from Washington State Board of Health: 

The Washington State Board of Health is inviting parents and caregivers of school-age children to complete a survey to provide input that will be shared with a Technical Advisory Group the Board has convened to assess COVID-19 vaccine for inclusion in chapter 246-105 WAC. The TAG will utilize the 9-criteria framework established by the Board to assess and evaluate the COVID-19 vaccine for consideration  in chapter 246-105 WAC.

 The Board is seeking input from parents and caregivers as it relates to Criteria Nine: “The burden of compliance for the vaccine containing this antigen is reasonable for the parent/caregiver.” 

To provide input, please complete the survey below:

I want to thank all of our faculty and staff who have continued to work diligently to make this week of remote learning as smooth as possible for our students and families. We look forward to having everyone back together on Monday. It’s a great night to be a Borderite, and, as always, a great night to be your superintendent.

Sincerely, 

Dr. Christopher Granger
Every Student. Every Day. In a New Way!

January 21, 2022

Dear students, staff, families and community,

The staff and students of the Blaine School District continue to persevere through the challenges this month has brought. As we have been messaging, the rising rates of COVID in our community have stressed our system to the point where we have had to make the difficult decision to move to remote learning district wide next week. (Please review our Remote Learning Plan if you have not already done so.)

I assure you that we have been meeting with campus and district leaders consistently over the last few days and reviewing our staff and student absences, and it was a unanimous recommendation to move in this direction for a short period of time. In order to provide some context to what has been a growing concern over the week, here is what has been happening:

  • We  had 118 positive cases in the district last week and have recorded 55 positive cases so far for this week, with results complete only for tests performed through Tuesday, Jan 18th. Our case numbers nearly doubled last week and are on trend to do so again this week. 

  • Student absences have climbed in every building to more than 20% daily, in the range of 450+ students

  • Staff absences have increased daily to more than 75, with more than 30% of those jobs remaining unfilled by substitutes, with impacts in every building and department

In the transition to remote learning, after school activities up through middle school will be canceled, while most high school activities will be able to continue to operate utilizing the testing protocols in place. If you have specific questions about a program or activity please contact the coach/sponsor of that activity.  

At this  time we are planning on returning to in-person learning for all students on Monday January 31, 2022, with a reevaluation occurring next Thursday and Friday If any changes are anticipated we will communicate them by the end of the day Friday. In order for this pause in in-person learning to have the intended result, we ask that, to the best of your ability, you help  by following the recommended precautions of social distancing and mask wearing. In preparation for our return to in-person learning, please review this recent handout with a summary of the most recent COVID-19 guidance for schools

For those students who have had an exposure to COVID or who are symptomatic, we will continue to operate our testing site Monday -Friday next week from 10:30 A.M. to 11:00 A.M., on the north side of the middle school gym, across H Street from the Boys and Girls Club. Please enter the lot from Mitchell Ave. and proceed north around the gym. If you end up in that line for testing, please take a minute to say thank you to our nursing staff who are working so hard to provide this service. 

As a reminder we are also looking for parent feedback to assist in our continual improvement process. We hope our  families will take the time to complete this survey.

EES-Family Survey Link: Blaine SD

I want to thank all of our faculty and staff who have continued to work diligently to make this transition to remote learning as smooth as possible for our students and families. We are committed to providing the best possible remote experience for your students. Don’t forget Monday, January 24th is a non student day. It’s a great night to be a Borderite, and, as always, a great night to be your superintendent.

Sincerely, 

Dr. Christopher Granger
Every Student. Every Day. In a New Way!

January 14, 2022

Dear students, staff, families and community,

Blaine School District staff have worked tirelessly to navigate this week, with an unprecedented number of absences for both students and staff.  The Blaine School District is part of a larger community that is experiencing an increase of infections. In times like these there are impacts to classrooms, buildings, and the district as a whole. In some instances, individual classrooms or cohorts of students may need to temporarily move to remote learning, and we will communicate directly with any impacted individuals should that occur. . 

We are also working to review and implement new guidance for schools that was released this week. The school guidelines are close to the CDC guidelines released with some school specific indicators. For many students and staff the new guidelines will allow them to return to school sooner than previously allowed, while following the non-pharmaceutical interventions in place in schools. While we continue to operationalize the new guidance, if you have questions please contact your student’s campus and their COVID team. 

As schools transition to new guidelines it is imperative that students with symptoms remain at home, and communicate with their teacher, and school office. We want to remind everyone that any student or staff member who has been symptomatic needs a negative PCR test to return to work or school. (If you are uncertain if this applies to you, please stay home and seek clarification from your student's campus COVID team.) PCR testing is available for students and staff every school day from 10:30 A.M. to 11:00 A.M., on the north side of the middle school gym, across H Street from the Boys and Girls Club. Please enter the lot from Mitchell Ave. and proceed north around the gym. If you end up in that line for testing, please take a minute to say thank you to our nursing staff who are working so hard to provide this service. 

This week our CEE Survey will be available online, and we hope our  families will take the time to complete it. We utilize this information as part of our overall process of continual improvement. 

EES-Family Survey Link: Blaine SD

Don’t forget Monday, January 17th is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and there is no school. It’s a great night to be a Borderite, and, as always, a great night to be your superintendent.

Sincerely, 

Dr. Christopher Granger
Every Student. Every Day. In a New Way!

January 7, 2022

Dear students, staff, families and community,

We have completed the first calendar school week of 2022 and it came with many challenges. While we were hopeful to not have to transition to remote learning so soon in the calendar year, the rising COVID cases have had, and continue to have, impacts on our ability to safely operate in-person learning. Although we have mentioned this in previous messages, we want to remind everyone that any student or staff member who has been symptomatic needs a negative PCR test to return to work or school. (If you are uncertain if this applies to you, please stay home and seek clarification from your student's campus COVID team.)

At one point this week we had over 85 pending PCR tests for staff and students.. It takes many people to safely operate the schools. I wanted to share the approximate numbers with you of what it looked like in Blaine School District this week. 

  • 25% of our custodial staff was out

  • All staff with a proper license were operating busses on routes

  • 30% of campus administration were out

  • Instructional staff varied  by building, but every building had multiple staff out either pending test results or positives  

  • Student absences in the district peaked at 16.4% district wide on Tuesday with every campus having over a 12% absence rate.  

Anytime a campus is over a 10% absence rate we are to collaborate with  the health department, as in the past with NoraVirus and Chicken Pox situations prior to COVID. We will continue to work in collaboration with the Whatcom County Health Department on impacts to school operations caused by COVID cases or outbreaks. It remains our goal to operate in-person learning and we will maintain that focus, but there is a possibility that individual classrooms, grade levels, buildings or a district wide move to remote learning may be required based on case numbers and staffing capacity.

Change is hard on everyone and transitioning to remote learning is no exception. We are working hard to minimize frustrations for everyone, and you may be wondering how you can help. We continue to be in need of qualified substitutes in all work categories. As you can see by the numbers I’ve shared, staffing all over the district is going to have a huge impact on our ability to keep kids in in-person learning. Maybe you know someone who is retired, but might be willing to work a day or two now or then. It truly is an all hands on deck situation, and I hope you’ll consider stepping in to help our students. Please contact Tanya Carter in the District Office for information about joining our team in this capacity if you can. 

As of right now, it is our intention to have all students back on campus for in-person learning on Monday, January 10th. (Don't forget - Monday is a previously scheduled 2 hour late start.) Our commitment is to provide a safe environment for students and staff and to communicate as soon as possible if a change  occurs. We will communicate through the district website, app notifications, emails, and phone calls as well as updating our schedule hotline, so if you ever think you may have missed a message about schedule changes you can call in to 360-332-0789.

It’s a great night to be a Borderite, and, as always, a great night to be your superintendent.

Sincerely, 

Dr. Christopher Granger
Every Student. Every Day. In a New Way!

December 30, 2021

Dear students, staff, families and community,

I hope this message finds you healthy and happy and that you are enjoying some time playing in the snow. With the fun in the snow also comes the need for us to monitor upcoming weather events, operational impacts to our facilities and road conditions throughout the district. We will be continuing to monitor these things as we approach January 3rd, and we will keep you updated about any anticipated impacts to our return to campus. 

We are also monitoring the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising cases of the Omicron variant. Whatcom County Superintendents met with Whatcom County Health Officials this week and remain in regular communication with them. We want to remind our families that as new guidance comes out from agencies such as the CDC and Washington State, we will be continuing to follow Washington State’s K-12 Guidance. We will continue to work in collaboration with the Whatcom County Health Department on impacts to school operations caused by COVID cases or outbreaks. It remains our goal to operate in-person learning and we will maintain that focus, but there is a possibility that individual classrooms or grade levels may be moved to remote learning based on case numbers. This has always been a possibility during the pandemic, and we want our families to be as prepared as possible for this change. 

With all of these factors in mind, we want to remind you of all the ways we use to communicate with our families. You can use our app to receive notifications; remember to subscribe to the district level notifications as well as those from your student’s specific school. (Find it in your app store “Blaine School District, WA”.) We will also use email to communicate, along with putting information out on www.blainesd.org and pushing that out to Facebook and Twitter. In the case of changes to school days or start times, we will also communicate with an automated call and a text message. (You will only receive the text message if your primary phone number is a cellular number.) We will also update our schedule hotline, so if you ever think you may have missed a message about schedule changes you can call in to 360-332-0789.

I wish you and your families a very Happy New Year. Whatever this year brings us, we will be in it together. It’s a great night to be a Borderite, and, as always, a great night to be your superintendent.

Sincerely, 

Dr. Christopher Granger
Every Student. Every Day. In a New Way!

December 17, 2021

Dear students, staff, families and community,

Winter break has arrived and we want to thank everyone for their hard work. This first stretch of the school year has had its challenges, and I know many have been counting down to this break. We will be looking forward to welcoming back our students and staff on Monday January 3, 2022. 

COVID Update:

As we move into the holidays, health officials are warning about the rapidly spreading COVID-19 variant Omicron. Earlier today the Washington State Department of Health issued an update of the health and safety requirements for high contact indoor sports in the wake of a multi-school, multi-county outbreak related to interscholastic wrestling competitions. The update requires screening testing for all athletes, coaches, trainers and supporting personnel, regardless of vaccination status. The testing frequency has increased to 3 times weekly. Our district’s COVID response team met today to determine how we can best support our athletic department in implementing these changes. 

Along with the new guidance, State Superintendent Chris Reykdal also issued a message to superintendents emphasizing the importance of masking indoors. He stated, in part, “As a reminder, all spectators are required to wear masks at all indoor events (sports, performing arts, other events). Our ability to continue allowing spectators at events depends on our adherence to the mitigation measures.” We as a district believe strongly in the importance of extracurricular activities and their positive impact on our students. We ask that you help us keep these activities available to our students by wearing your masks at all of our indoor events. 

Blaine Gives Back: 

This month we launched our 2nd Annual Blaine Gives Back campaign to support our friends and neighbors who are experiencing food insecurity. Blaine Food Bank is serving many more families than in years past, and their volunteers are working to keep up with demand. They are currently serving over 400 individuals and families each week. In addition, they provide 3 meals a day for the weekend to over 160 Blaine School District students. Fulfilling the basic need of food security is essential to the educational success of every student. We are so grateful for their role in supporting our students and are proud to be partnering with them once again. 

The need in our community is so great, that we are extending our efforts through January 15th. There is still time to donate online at www.blainefoodbank.org (please put school in the comments) or mail a donation to the district office at 765 H St. Blaine Food Bank can stretch a single $1 into 10 meals. Your dollars can go such a long way with that kind of buying power, and we hope you’ll join us in giving back. 

I hope you are able to enjoy this time of year and can take some time to rest and recharge. It’s a great night to be a Borderite, and, as always, a great night to be your superintendent.

Sincerely, 

Dr. Christopher Granger
Every Student. Every Day. In a New Way!

December 10, 2021

Good evening students, staff, families and community, 

This morning at approximately 10:30 a high school student reported to school officials that they observed graffiti in a bathroom stall that implied an act of gun violence would occur at the school today. Police were notified and responded to the school. Following a brief initial investigation it was determined that although the threat was not specific and it’s author had not been identified, securing our campuses while the investigation continued was the best decision for the safety of our students and staff. 

Typically a lockout is utilized when there is a threat outside or nearby that risks the safety of staff and students. In today’s incident a lockout was used to secure the campus, as well as to keep students from mixing between our schools, which are in close proximity. There was also a wrestling tournament occurring on campus, adding several hundred additional people to our campus’s population. It was important to the investigation that the student groups not be intermingled. 

We understand the lockout was inconvenient for some and concerning for many, but it was necessary for us to follow the protocol of the lockout, which includes no one leaving or entering the campus. While staff are in the middle of managing an incident, it is not practical for them to be pulling students from class in order to be picked up. It is simply not possible to manage the domino effect that would create. Additionally, while the investigation of the incident was ongoing, we needed students to stay on campus to prevent us losing access to potential witnesses or persons of interest. 

We have received information from several parents who have stated they did not receive the initial communications that were sent regarding the securing of our campuses. Your feedback helped us to identify that a problem did occur with our notification system, and we worked with our vendor throughout the day to correct the issue. We believe those corrections were reflected in our follow up messaging regarding the lifting of the lockout. Since there is always a possibility that technology will fail us, we want to remind you of all the ways we send notifications, so you can make sure you are set up to receive information in more than one way; 

  • Email

  • App Notifications - download our App “Blaine School District, WA” and subscribe to notifications from the School District and your student’s individual school

  • Website Alerts 

  • Auto Call

  • Text Message

  • Social Media - Facebook and Twitter

If you haven’t already done so, please login to Skyward and complete your “Annual Student Information Update” as well as the “Race/Ethnicity” tab (which is a new requirement.) Doing this will help us have the most up to date information on your student and on how to contact you. 

Believe it or not, I had planned to focus on this very topic for the message this week. We had initially planned to run a drill next week, and this morning several of our schools had talked with students about emergency drills in preparation for that. This has created some confusion for parents today as they are hearing their students describe the event as a drill. Some campuses did practice a drill right before the actual lockout occurred today. 

Our district follows the Standard Response Protocol from The I Love You Guys Foundation, and our staff and students train on the protocol every year. Their website contains videos which may be helpful for parents to understand the process. We also recommend you view their SRP Parent Handout for K12.  

As stressful as it is for our parents to learn that a lockout or lockdown is taking place at their student’s school, we want you to know the safety of every student and staff member is our number one priority in those moments. I witnessed again and again today the calm and efficient reactions of our staff and administrators. During a lockout or lockdown, parents can help us by allowing us to keep our focus on what is happening on the campus. Please do not come to the school for any reason. Students will not be released until the situation is resolved, and no exceptions will be made. 

We recognize this has been a prolonged time of increased stress for students and families. This stress has led to an increase in mental health concerns for youth and adults. Our staff and community agencies are working to support student mental health and we know families are working hard to support their children as well. Statewide data tells us that youth suicide is a significant concern, and that it is preventable. We can all look for warning signs in the students we care about. 

If you are concerned about a student, please reach out to your school counselor for additional support. While you support your children at home and in the community, we can wrap support around them in the school setting. If you have an immediate concern, call 911 and/or access the following resources: 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1 (800) 273-8255

24 Hour Mental Health Crisis Line 1 (800) 584-3578

Preventing youth suicide - tips for parents and educators (English)

Preventing youth suicide - tips for parents and educators (Spanish)

Ten Things Parents Can Do to Prevent Suicide 

Making A Difference – Helping Other People Everywhere, Youth Suicide Prevention

Washington State Department of Health Suicide Prevention 

 We are so incredibly grateful to the brave students who came forward and cooperated with the investigation today. We want to remind everyone there is an anonymous system in place for reporting safety concerns to the district. They can be reported through the Crisis Resources page on our website or by sending a text message to 844-201-8732. 

On behalf of our staff and students I would like to extend our thanks to the Blaine Police Department and all the law enforcement partners in our community. The response we received today was swift, and the cooperation was unparalleled. I have great confidence in our law enforcement community’s preparedness to respond to emergencies on our campuses and am deeply grateful to everyone who participated today. 

This evening our staff continues to review the events of the day and learn what we can do better next time. There is always room for improvement, and I, for one, am grateful we had this opportunity to improve our processes. Most of all I am incredibly grateful that every one of our students and staff members went home to their families tonight. That makes it a great night to be a Borderite, and, as always, a great night to be your superintendent. 

Sincerely, 

Dr. Christopher Granger
Every Student. Every Day. In a New Way!

December 3, 2021

As we enter the month of December, we also have our first potential for snowfall in the forecast. As always, we will do our best to make decisions about late starts or closures as soon as possible, but a decision the morning of school is sometimes necessary. Please monitor our website, app and social media for news about inclement weather related schedule changes. 

As a reminder Monday December 6th is a scheduled late start for all students, and school will start two hours late. 

On December 7th at 5:00 P.M., there will be a Special Board Meeting to further discuss boundary changes to the individual voting districts within our school district.   

This week we kicked off our 2nd Annual Blaine Gives Back Coin Drive, a district wide campaign benefiting Blaine Food Bank. Help us make real change by gathering up your loose change and sending it with your students to school. Change and other donations can also be delivered to the district office through December 15th. Online donations can be made through PayPal at www.blainefoodbank.org (please type “school” in the donation comment.) We know that people all across our county are in dire need of help right now due to recent flooding, but we also know the needs around food security have not decreased in our community. Food insecurity is a devastating barrier to a quality education, and we hope you’ll join us in helping the families in our community who need it. 

It’s a great night to be a Borderite, and, as always, a great night to be your superintendent. 

Sincerely,

Dr. Christopher Granger
Every Student. Every Day. In a New Way!