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superintendent's messages

november 25, 2020

Dear Students, Staff, Families and Community,

On November 18th, 2020, the Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD) recommended that local school districts pause plans to expand in-person instruction for middle and high school students. Since that time, the District has been in contact with WCHD Health Officer Greg Stern, MD, in an effort to understand the recommendation and to determine whether we can continue with planned expansion of in-person instruction. After multiple contacts from the District, Dr. Stern and the WCHD have not modified the WCHD recommendation. There is clear concern regarding the spiking transmission rate and the increasing daily COVID-19 cases within Whatcom County.

Unfortunately, were the District to proceed with the expansion of in-person learning at this time, contrary to Dr. Stern’s recommendation, there is a strong possibility that doing so could compromise the insurance coverage protecting our students and staff.

On November 24th, after conferring with legal counsel and myself, and in consideration of the recommendation of the WCHD, the Board of Directors of the District elected to adhere to the recommendation of Dr. Stern and the WCHD and temporarily pause further expansion for middle and high school student in-person instruction. This unfortunately includes the upcoming plan to return 6th and 9th graders on November 30th. However, all students who are currently attending for in-person instruction will remain on their existing schedules for the time being.

The Board is also aware that the recommendation from WCHD was directed at expanding in-person education models and allowed nearby school districts to continue with in-person instruction if such instruction had already commenced. This appeared to disadvantage public school districts, including Blaine, who had taken the time to plan carefully and thoughtfully for the expansion of in-person instruction. For this reason, while the District must realistically adhere to the guidance of the WCHD at this time, we began immediately seeking further clarification for such an approach.

While all of this was unfolding, Dr. Stern was drafting a new, stronger recommendation to not only halt the return of 6-12 learners, but to also roll back in-person learning in this age group for all public and private schools in Whatcom County. I received this new recommendation shortly after midnight on November 25th. With this new recommendation, the District will now put on hold the return of additional grade levels pending new health authority guidance. Following multiple meetings and conversations with local health officials and leaders in education, I believe it is prudent for all grade levels to be prepared for changing guidance and the possibility of a change in the method of instructional delivery at any time.

Be assured that our Board is committed to delivering learning in the best model possible for our students, and doing so in a safe and healthy environment consistent with expert medical guidance. More significantly, we have been and will continue to confer with the WCHD as to how we can best resume our plan to bring more students back expeditiously and safely, consistent with their expert medical direction. The best interests of our students will be the District’s goal at all times, and having students learning together in our schools is our eventual target.

We also want to thank the community, the families, and the students we serve for your patience and continued support and wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving. These are difficult times, but they do not have to be divisive ones. I believe our strength lies in our unity and willingness to come together, despite our differences, to continue to work hard for every student, every day. I believe that although we may not always agree on the best course of action, we are all moving forward with the best of intentions. Finally, I believe every night is a great night to be a Borderite, and a great night to be your superintendent.

Sincerely,

Dr. Christopher Granger

november 20, 2020

Good evening students, staff, families and community,

As things around our state continue to evolve we continue to monitor the local conditions in our county. The Governor has taken steps to address the rapid uptick in cases around the state. At this time those restrictions do not lead to the closure of schools. We know that is in large part due to our safety protocols and the steps we are taking to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in schools by wearing masks, staying distanced, and hand washing, to name a few.

While we realize there are differing opinions in our community in regards to these restrictions, what we do know is that community levels of transmission can have an impact on our ability to remain open for in-person learning. Please do your best to help us in keeping community transmission down.

We are in receipt of an updated letter of guidance from the Whatcom County Health Department recommending a pause on adding any more grade levels to the building above grade 5. While we know this is not ideal, we also know we have to consider the impact schools can have on a community and respond accordingly. We will continue to advocate for our students’ access to in-person learning while also continuing to provide safe environments for students and staff.

In the event that a student has symptoms while at school, we may need to move other students to a different learning space to allow for cleaning. We want to assure you this does not mean there is a case of COVID-19, rather it is simply a part of our protocol to keep everyone safe. Rest assured if there is a case in the school in which your student is identified as a close contact you will receive direct communication from the school district and/or health department. We also want to remind families that a student who comes down with symptoms while at school will have to be picked up. A student cannot remain at school with symptoms and cannot ride the bus home.

From December 1st to December 10th we will publish an online form to allow families who wish to change their learning model (hybrid or online) for the second semester to make that request. The information in this survey will be critical to our planning process. We will evaluate the results of these requests beginning December 11th to determine our staff capacity. Changes impacted by these requests could include an increased number of learning days or the transition of some staff to online only instruction. Please save the date - December 10th - and plan to notify us of any change requests, so we may plan accordingly to provide the best possible experience for all of our students.

If you have any questions or concerns about your student’s return to the building please contact the building administrator who can review the concerns with you.

We know these times are difficult and in many ways divisive. Please rest assured that everyone at Blaine School District remains committed to our community and its students. We continue to navigate these challenging times alongside you and trust that we are stronger when we work together. It is 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.

november 13, 2020

Good evening students, staff, families and community,

We are halfway through the month of November, and we are looking forward to the start of hybrid learning for our fourth and fifth grade students on Monday, November 23rd. We will have a virtual back to school night for these students and their families on Thursday, November 19th at 6 P.M. Be sure to check our website for the login information.

Our 6th and 9th grade students are currently scheduled to return to hybrid learning on Monday, November 30th. There will be a virtual informational meeting for freshmen and their families on Wednesday, November 18th at 6 P.M. 6th grade students and their families are invited to a virtual meeting on Tuesday, November 24th, also at 6 P.M. Logins for both events will be posted on our website the morning of.

Teacher conferences for students in grades K-8 begin next Friday, November 20th. If you haven’t registered for your conference time yet, please be sure to login to Skyward Family Access and get signed up. Skyward Family Access also has bus route information and is where you will complete mandatory wellness screenings for those students coming to campus. If you don’t have your Skyward login information, please contact your student’s school.

As many of you know, our state and local health jurisdictions have been issuing warnings about rising COVID-19 case numbers. We are grateful for all the efforts being made by our community to help mitigate this pandemic, and we ask that you continue these efforts in support of keeping our phase-in process on track.

I would like to close this evening by recognizing the holiday we observed earlier this week and extending my deepest gratitude to our nation’s veterans. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for us all.

It is 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!


NOVEMBER 6, 2020

Good evening students, staff, families and community,

How wonderful it was this week to welcome back our A Week students in 1st - 3rd grades, and we look forward to seeing our B Week students, beginning Monday, in those same grade levels. In addition, we continue to work in collaboration with our teachers and staff to prepare for 4th and 5th grade students in a short two weeks on November 23 as well as 6th and 9th grade students on November 30. We are also preparing to welcome the remaining grade levels back in a hybrid model on Monday January 4, 2021, should our county numbers stay in the moderate category range.

What We Need From You

As we plan for larger groups of students, we need your help. We have two important surveys for our families to complete (if you have not already done so);

  1. Does your student require school bus transportation? https://forms.gle/1y4fMmVP1Qorzh9p6
  2. Do you wish for your student to remain in an online only learning model? https://forms.gle/433i3MHaBWJYgD896 for

These surveys are for students in all grade levels. If you could please assist us in providing the best plan for a safe return by completing these surveys by Sunday November 15th, we would appreciate it.

Hybrid in Second Semester

On December 1st - 10th we will open a survey for those families who may wish to request a move from online to the hybrid model beginning at the start of the second semester, on Monday January 25, 2021. Due to the time needed to reschedule students and determine our space capacity in each grade level, we wanted to make sure this was on your radar for the beginning of December.

Attendance

In order to assist everyone in the process of taking attendance for asynchronous learning, we are now asking that students who complete work outside of their synchronous learning time (8:20 a.m. - 12:20 p.m.), to show their participation and count as their attendance for that day, add a private comment to the assignment for that day. This allows the teacher to receive a notification, making it easier to track. This would only be necessary to count for attendance if the student had not attended the Google Meet or Office Hours for that day. Remember, for 6-12 students, attendance is taken by period, just like it would be if the student was in the building.

This helpful video explains more about attendance and how to make a private comment on an assignment; https://youtu.be/IbXZYqWxh6Y

Skyward Family Access

If your student is coming to the campus soon and you don’t have your Skyward Family Access login, please contact your student’s school. You’ll need it for a variety of things this year. These are just a few;

  • Student Daily Wellness Screenings
  • Bus Route Information
  • Scheduling Teacher Conferences

Food Service

Meal pick-up this coming week will be on Tuesday, November 10th, due to the Veteran's Day holiday. If you have not been picking up meals regularly but would like to participate for the first time, please contact Amber Porter. At this time we are preparing meals based on the number of people who have been coming, and we would want to ensure there are enough meals on hand for everyone.

Emergency Schedule Changes

With all students and staff now equipped to participate in remote learning, you can expect any emergency schedule changes to become days of remote learning for all, rather than closures. Decisions will still be made around the 5:30 a.m. time, and notifications will still be sent out via our app, website, and social media channels.

Coming Up

  • November 9 - Community Q & A at 6 P.M. (visit our website for login info)
  • November 11 - Veteran’s Day (No School)
  • November 13 - Non student day (No student work)
  • November 20, 23, 24, 25 - K-8 Parent Conferences
  • November 26-27 - Thanksgiving Holiday (No School)

I know this message contains a lot of information this week, but there is a lot happening. A lot of good things are happening, and we continue to be grateful for our community and its support. It is 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!

october 30, 2020

Good evening students, staff, families and community,

This Monday, November 2nd, will be an exciting day as we bring three grades of students back to hybrid learning. The A Group cohort of hybrid learners in grades 1st, 2nd and 3rd will be back on campus, and we can’t wait to greet them. Below are a few of the most important things you need to know if your student is one of those.

  • Daily Wellness Screenings must be completed in Skyward Family Access
  • Students without a completed wellness screening will not be permitted in the classroom
  • Hybrid learning school day runs from 8:20 A.M. to 12:20 P.M.
  • Drop off begins at 7:50 A.M.
  • Drop off and pick up looks different than last year, check the website for more information
  • Bus schedules can be found in Skyward
  • Be at the bus stop 5 minutes early and give up to 5 minutes after, especially while drivers adjust to their new routes
  • Check the 2020-2021 School Year pages for the Elementary School and Primary School for more information

No matter the stage in our phase-in plan, there is an important logistical detail that will impact everyone who drives onto our campuses, beginning Monday, November 2, 2020. All entrances and exits on district property will be designated as right turn only. In order for us to provide the safest drop off and pick up process for our families, left turns into or off of our main campus property (that contains the four schools) will not be permitted. We know this is a big change and will take some getting used to, but we strongly believe it is the safest option for our students.

Another big thing next week: the return of daily attendance robo calls from the schools. Believe it or not, this is one more step in the progress towards returning to normal. This does not mean we have abandoned the idea of flexibility for our learners and families. There will still be opportunities for students to complete asynchronous work to count towards attendance. However, as more students return to our campuses, for the safety of those students, we must have a process in place to notify families if their student is not on campus as expected.

While many of us had hoped that schools would be operating under our traditional learning models this year, instead we find ourselves continuing to find new ways to work together and persevere. We know many of our families are struggling, and we encourage you to hang in there with us as we work to bring our learners to our buildings as quickly as we can safely and logistically do so. If you need help, during these times, or any other, please reach out.

It is 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!

OCTOBER 23, 2020

Good evening students, staff, families and community,

We have successfully wrapped up week two of hybrid learning in kindergarten with our A Group. We will take the next step in our phase-in process on November 2nd, bringing 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade hybrid learners to the campuses. We appreciate the community-wide effort to mask up, stay distanced and keep your social circle small. The health and safety of our community is always a concern for the district and is attached to school and athletic activities continuing.

There has been a lot of discussion about the transition to hybrid and its impact on the instructional delivery models. As is often the case with transitions, we know there may be adjustments needed. Those who are in the hybrid model will be in the building every other week. In K-5, our hybrid learners in their at-home week and our online only students will have a couple of times in the day to login and be with their entire class, as well as additional access to the teacher during office hours. As we move ahead and teachers become more comfortable with managing multiple groups, and students become more comfortable with their new routine, you could see an increase in the amount of live time your child's teacher may be providing. In the 6-12 classes we are moving forward with the plan to live stream content from the classroom for those students who are at home.

I’d like to remind all of our families that wellness screenings are required for every student to enter the building, and students K-5 cannot complete their own attestation. Wellness screenings must be completed in Skyward Family Access before your student arrives at the building. In order for the screening process to remain unobtrusive on the education process, it requires everyone to do their part. If you haven’t started practicing yet, please do. If you need Skyward help, please contact your student’s school.

Upcoming Virtual Events:

October 27th: 1st/2nd Grade Parent Night,6:00 P.M.

October 28th: BMS Open House, 6:00 P.M. (Google Meet codes on our website)

October 29th: 3rd Grade Parent Night, 6:00 P.M.

Each step of the Phase-In Plan is a stage of transition. Please give yourself, your students, and your teachers grace as we make our way through this. If you need help or have questions, please reach out to us. It is 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!

OCTOBER 16, 2020

Good evening students, staff, families and community,

I hope this email finds you and those you care about doing well. We are happy to report we have completed week one of a hybrid schedule for Kindergarten in the building and look forward to welcoming our “A” week Kindergarten students next week.

We have received good news that the case counts in Whatcom County are trending down currently, and we are working on bringing the next group of students to the campuses. We will plan on bringing our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade students to the buildings on November 2, 2020, barring any new guidance from the health department, or an increase in cases that leads us to move this date back. All families with students returning in this group will receive an email in the next few days with their student’s A/B hybrid schedule or Online assignment and a link to an important transportation survey. If families could please review the email and let the campus know if you have any questions, it would be greatly appreciated.

In future weeks, around November 23rd, we plan to bring additional grade levels to complete the elementary school phase-in to the building. Those families will receive a similar email and transportation survey.

As a district, we want to continue to allow our families as much flexibility as we can in our learning model choices, but we also want you to understand the options in order to decide the best instructional option for your students. We have just started the transition from remote learning for all students to an incremental offering of either Hybrid or Online Learning . With remote learning, the instructional models look very similar for all students. However, moving forward, as teachers begin to teach students both in the buildings and at home, you should expect that both Online Learning and the at-home week of Hybrid Learning may involve less direct interaction with the teacher than remote learning does now, and could vary by grade level. Please remember that the Online Learning option was initially created to provide our families schedule flexibility and comes with a higher expectation of independent work and parent involvement.

When attestations were completed in July anyone not selecting the online option was defaulted into the hybrid model of instruction. Currently anyone wishing to opt into an online learning model can do so. Prior to each grade level’s phase-in, an email will be sent that includes a way to respond and request to remain online only. Selecting this option will mean your student will remain in online learning through at least January 22, 2021. There will be an opportunity between December 1st and December 15th for families to request to change to the hybrid delivery model, and those will be reviewed based on space availability.

One of the most important things to know about a return to school during this time is that we are asking students and staff to not come to the building if they are sick, or feeling ill. Please review the symptoms and your student’s health daily before they head off to the bus stop or get in the car to come to school. If your student is ill, please contact the school office as you would in previous years to report their absences from school. What we have learned is that the building entry process runs much smoother when families have completed the wellness screening prior to arrival, and we want to do everything we can to assist in a smooth transition for everyone. If you haven’t already done so, please visit our website and familiarize yourself with the wellness screening process.

Upcoming Q&A and Other Events

  • Community Q&A: Monday, Oct 19, 2020 at 6:00 P.M.
  • REACH Parent Night: Wednesday, Oct 21, 2020 at 6:00 P.M.
  • BMS Open House: Wednesday, October 28, 2020 at 6:00 – 7:10 P.M.

Despite these difficult times we are all working through, I continue to be blessed to witness the hard work and commitment of our staff and the community support and connection among our families. These things remind me that it is 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!

October 9, 2020

Good evening students, staff, families and community,

I hope this message finds you and your families in good health and in good spirits. The hustle and bustle around campus has picked up this week as we prepare to welcome back our kindergarten students to the hybrid schedule on Monday, as well as our Pt. Robert’s Primary School students, and our high school athletes have begun their conditioning program in preparation for a transition to sports’ specific practices on October 19th. For all students returning Monday, please visit the District’s current school year section of the website for important information. For those Kindergarten students who are on the “B” schedule for hybrid, and will return to the building on Monday, please visit the Primary School’s 2020-2021 section of the website for critical information on the procedures surrounding drop off and pick up. Our staff have been working hard to prepare and are looking forward to welcoming you to the building.

As this school year began we have been talking with you about the impacts of reduced enrollment on the district's finances, both now and in the future. We wanted to take some time to outline some of those impacts for you to assist in understanding. This year’s school budget was built by the district, presented to the public and passed by the school board with an anticipated full time equivalency (FTE) enrollment of 2199.57 students. As of this week our current enrollment is 2069.47 FTE. The budgeted vs. actual amounts creates a deficit of 130 student FTE. At this time, the resulting difference of the budgeted number of students and current enrollment creates an estimated revenue shortfall of over $2 million.

It’s also important to note that enrollment numbers published by the State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), and often referenced in the media, are head count numbers, not FTE. A student may attend school in the district on a less than full time basis, which is reflected in the FTE, for example, as .5 FTE, but in the head count as 1.0. This accounts for what may appear to be a discrepancy in reported numbers.

In addition to State funding from the prototypical school funding model (basic education funding on a per-pupil basis), there are other funding sources the district is monitoring to determine the financial impact to the District:

  • Transportation funding based on unpredictable ridership numbers & missed/limited funding
  • Learning Assistance Program (LAP)
  • Future Levy Collections

As things stand currently, a large portion of transportation funding is based on ridership on buses. Having had no riders for a large portion of the start of the year due to remote learning, seeing a reduction in families utilizing school transportation in hybrid, and with the potential for public health and safety to impact our return to the buildings at any time, this is an area of great uncertainty. School districts and OSPI are interested in legislative action by way of some sort of hold harmless or make whole provision, to assist in ensuring funding will be available to meet the needs of students. With the legislature set to return to session in January this is something we are hopeful will be discussed.

Learning Assistant Program (LAP) offers supplemental services for K–12 students scoring below grade-level standard in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics. These services focus on accelerating student growth to make progress towards grade level and addressing barriers preventing students from accessing core instruction.

An additional portion of LAP funding is referred to as High Poverty LAP, which schools can receive if their 3-year average of free and reduced lunch students is greater than 50% of their student population, based on the approval number as of October 1of each year. In the 2019-2020 school year we had two campuses (BPS/BES) received these funds to the total of just over $300,000. As of today, we do not expect to reach the threshold for the next school year on any of our campuses. You can find more information about LAP here; https://www.k12.wa.us/student-success/support-programs/learning-assistance-program-lap

Lastly, we would like to briefly mention levy funding. The Blaine School District has been fortunate to have received the support of our community in passing an enrichment levy last Spring. The collection amount is limited by a “levy lid”, or restriction, the state imposes on school districts. Our district’s levy lid is $2,500 per pupil, which the state has set to rise with inflation. Collection per pupil is also impacted by the previous year’s enrollment, so our current reduced enrollment, as mentioned above, will decrease levy collection capacity in future years.

While we know these are difficult topics, in light of recent information that has circulated regarding school enrollment and funding, we wanted to provide some base information to inform our community about the anticipated impacts on the finances of our District. We have been working hard to determine the best way to address these anticipated short-falls, beginning now and moving into next school year. While these decisions are difficult and will likely impact District programs and staff, we are committed to making sound financial decisions.

In closing, we will continue to advocate with our local legislators for the adequate funding of public education in the State of Washington. We want to continue to partner with our families and community to continually improve and make Blaine School District the best place in Washington for your student(s) to receive a high quality education.

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

Respectfully,

Dr. Christopher Granger

SEPTEMBER 25, 2020

Good evening students, staff, families and community,

I hope this email finds you and those you care about doing well. We are happy to report we have completed week one of a gradual student return to the building. A lot of learning has occurred for all involved, and it will continue to inform our process as we bring additional students to the buildings.

PHASE-IN UPDATE:

The next step in our phase-in plan will be to bring our Kindergarten students, as well as some of our language learners, to the buildings on the A/B Hybrid schedule, beginning Monday, October 12, 2020. This date remains open to adjustment should we receive any updated guidance from health authorities, or experience an increase in cases in our county.

Once we bring this first group of students in on hybrid learning, we will begin considering the return of a few grade levels at a time, moving forward in 2-3 week increments. Those increments will be based on the current conditions in Whatcom County and our ability to adequately staff those grade levels.

DO NOT COME IF YOU ARE SICK:

One of the most important things you need to know about a return to school during this time is that we are asking students and staff not to come to the building if they are sick, or feeling ill. Please review the symptoms and your student(s) health daily, before they head off to the bus stop or get in the car to come to school. If your student is ill, please contact the school office as you would in previous years to report their absence from school. These steps are critical in a successful return to in-person learning, and provide reassurance to all involved that anyone coming in the building is symptom free and feeling okay.

DAILY WELLNESS SCREENINGS:

In preparation for hybrid learning, we want to make sure that everyone is aware of the daily screening expectations. Please talk with your student(s) about this and begin planning and preparing for when their grade level(s) will return to the building. We have created a short presentation to review the steps of the wellness screening process, which can be viewed on our YouTube Channel and other social media, as well as on the 2020-2021 School Year page of our website. If you have questions or concerns please contact the campus your student attends. One thing we have learned in this first week is that the building entry process runs much smoother when families have completed the health attestations prior to arrival. We want to do everything we can to assist in making this happen.

We want to thank all of our families for the work they are doing to support their student(s) in remote learning. Please make sure you are remaining in contact with your student(s) classroom teacher(s). We are excited to be moving forward with welcoming additional students to our buildings throughout the Fall.We hope many of you will join us on Thursday at 6:00 P.M. for our next community question and answer session on Zoom. The link to the meeting will be posted on our website the morning of the meeting.

It is 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!


SEPTEMBER 18, 2020

Good evening students, staff, families and community,

I am pleased to be bringing you this week’s message with the ability to announce we are moving to Phase II of our phase-in plan. A small number of students will be returning to the school buildings beginning Monday. Those families who have students returning have been contacted by the district. As we progress through this process and refine our procedures to welcome additional students and grade levels back we will be communicating with you. As we return students to the building we continue to update our website with new information. Please visit our website’s 2020-2021 School Year section for the most up to date information about what is happening in Blaine School District.

It is my hope that we will begin to move forward incrementally over time. We ask that everyone in our communities do their part in staying safe by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and washing their hands.

As I mentioned last week, we continue to monitor the guidance around the return of high school athletic activities. There have been a few meetings this week around the state and guidance continues to evolve. We are committed to monitoring this and reviewing it as it comes our way to make the most informed decision around the safest time and manner in which to return to athletics.

Our faculty and staff have been working hard to deliver a high-quality product to your students, and many wonderful things are happening in our digital learning environment. We hope you agree that it is improved from the Spring. We continue to work hard every day to improve and will continue to do so. If you have questions or concerns I encourage you to reach out to your student’s teacher, as they have the best information about what is occurring in the classroom.

We are excited to see students on our campuses this week and appreciate all the time and effort families are putting in to supporting their students. We are here to help you in and want to maintain positive relationships with our families. We are in this together and our collaborative efforts are showing in the work we do with students. Thank you.

It is 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!

september 11, 2020

Good evening students, staff, families and community,

I would like to start this evening by recognizing this solemn and historic day. I ask that you take a moment this evening to remember all the Americans who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. We will never forget.

During this time of remote learning, our students are spending more time than ever in front of screens. With this comes an increased need for supervising screen time and its content. We want to alert you to some disturbing information that we have become aware of recently on social media. There was a completed suicide that was recorded live on Facebook in August and was reposted to TikTok and is now being disguised by using a title with animals or food items.

Across the country, youth and adults are accidentally coming across these videos. We encourage you to be vigilant about monitoring your child’s activity on social media, and be aware that these graphic and disturbing posts are circulating.

To all of our students, of every age, I would like to say, YOU MATTER, and we are here for you. No matter how down you might be feeling, no situation is hopeless. Reach out to your teacher or your school counselor, talk to a friend or a trusted adult. For anyone who sees this message and may be feeling hopeless, please reach out or call the suicide prevention lifeline at 800-273-8255. Because you matter.

It has been a busy week in our school community as everyone continues to work to make the very best out of these difficult times. We are also busy planning and preparing to begin bringing our most vulnerable students to the buildings for in-person instruction the week of September 21st. It will be a huge step for us as we proceed with our phase-in plan.

Another huge milestone is on the horizon, as we anticipate beginning some high school athletic practices the week of September 28th. I would like to thank our athletic department, as they have been working hard to make this possible. We understand that extra curricular activities, of all types, are important for the engagement and overall health of many of our students. We look forward to taking this important first step as soon as we can safely do so and guidelines allow.

We welcome your feedback and questions and hope you will join us this Monday evening for a Virtual Community Q&A at 6 p.m.

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

Sincerely,

Dr. Christopher Granger, Superintendent

Every Student. Every Day. In a New Way. 

september 4, 2020

Good evening students, staff, families and community,

I want to start off by thanking all the students and families of the Blaine School District who have engaged in learning over the last week and a half to start the year. We have had reports of many good things happening in our virtual classrooms. Our staff continue to work each day at providing high quality learning experiences for our students, and they were sharing some of their own learning with each other today. Students: I want you to know your teachers are learning and sharing with each other just like you do in your classrooms with other students.

ATTENDANCE

Attendance is taken daily for all students in all grade levels. In order for your student to be marked in attendance they need to attend a live session, log in to Google Classroom and complete their assignment each day, or communicate with the teacher. We understand that things may come up and your student may not be able to attend for many reasons. Please continue to communicate with the office at your student’s school if they are going to be absent.

MEALS

Recently the USDA provided a waiver for all students to receive meals through December 31, 2020 or until the money runs out. Therefore, all children 0-18 can now pick up meals each Wednesday, at the rear of the high school, in the parking lot behind the grandstands with two convenient pick up times; 12:00 P.M. to 2:00 P.M. and 4:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. To assist us in planning, please complete our weekly online order form, which can be found on the new 2020-2021 School Year section of the school district website.

FREE AND REDUCED MEAL APPLICATIONS

There are funding streams the district relies on each year to support students that are based on the percentage of students that qualify for free and reduced meals. We ask for your assistance by completing an application, in hopes that we continue to meet the threshold of additional funding for student programs. Although you don’t currently need to complete the application to receive meals, the district needs you to complete it in order to qualify for funding. These applications can be printed and completed and are found online here, or you can complete the application through the Skyward Family Access using these instructions.

FEEDBACK WELCOMED

As we start this year many good things have happened in our district and we continue to welcome your feedback as we get better each day than we were the day before. We will get through this better doing it together. We are committed to listening and learning from you.

Please tell us how things are going, by completing the applicable survey form for your student(s) grade level.

NEXT Q&A

We will have our next virtual community question and answer session on Monday September 14, 2020 at 6:00 pm, and we hope many of you will join us. Look for the link on our website the morning of the meeting.

MASK UP TO PHASE-IN

We hope everyone enjoys the Labor Day Weekend and a Monday holiday from school. While you are out and about this weekend remember to wear a mask, socially distance, and practice good hand washing. The numbers in Whatcom County are trending in the right direction and we do not want to take any steps backwards. We will be spending the next two weeks communicating with families in our vulnerable populations such as life skills, homeless, access and pre-school to potentially begin our phase-in to in-building learning with those groups beginning Monday, September 21, 2020. This is the first step in our gradual and intentional progression back to the building that we will continue to monitor daily, and we will be prepared to return to 100% remote learning if needed.

If there is anything we can do for you or your family please feel free to reach out to me at the district office at 360-332-5881 or via email at cgranger@blainesd.org. It is a great night to be a Borderite, and always a great night to be your Superintendent.

Sincerely,

Dr. Christopher Granger, Superintendent

Every Student. Every Day. In a New Way!

august 28, 2020

Good evening students, staff, families and community,

We have made it to the first Friday of the 2020-2021 school year. This week has had a few glitches, as any new school year does, but all things considered, we’ve had a successful start. I would like to thank all of our hard working staff for their continued dedication as well as our students and families for approaching this year with patience and a willingness to help make it great. Our 6-12 students have been doing synchronous and asynchronous learning this week, and our K-5 students have been making connections with their teachers, getting used to the new look and feel of school and setting routines that will work for them.

Although this topic is difficult, and what we want most is to focus on the things that are going to make this year great, we cannot ignore the fact that many in our school district family have recently suffered great loss. We were all saddened this week to find ourselves in the position of having to place a number of our employees in furlough/standby status due to impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not lost on us that many of these employees are the dedicated individuals who rallied to support the district, and the families in the community we serve, to provide childcare, prepare and deliver meals and work extra hard to keep the facilities running smoothly. They were essential to us all during that time, and they remain essential in our hearts. We are committed to bringing as many employees back to work as quickly as we can safely do so, and we want them to know that we are here to help however we can.

As we travel down this path of remote learning, I feel I can not overemphasize the importance of responsible and respectful conduct in an online environment. As adults in a technological age, I think most of us have experienced or encountered someone who behaves differently behind a keyboard than they would ever think to behave in person. We have an opportunity and responsibility to teach our students how not to be that way.

Similar to staff and students attending school in the physical school building, the Blaine School District has high expectations for all of our learning environments. In the virtual classroom, we expect students will display a neutral background. Specifically, the Google Meet video frame showing a student and his or her background is part of the virtual classroom, which is expected to be free from behaviors, props, or visuals which may offend or distract from the teaching and learning in the classroom. While it is extremely difficult to create an exhaustive list that could cover all the possible items that could distract from the virtual learning environment, it is expected that students or staff will not display: Posters with offensive words, phrases, or pictures, political signs or phrases, family photos showing minor siblings, or open hallways potentially exposing the virtual audience to distracting or compromising family interactions. We expect every classroom to be a safe, respectful, compassionate and inclusionary learning environment. As I mentioned in my message on Wednesday, we have a new section of our website for Remote Learning Resources and Responsibilities, and some new content has been added, including self guided videos for students of all ages. I encourage you to take the time to review the content with your students and have discussions around this topic. As long as remote learning is happening, these conversations should be ongoing.

Some families have opted to withdraw from the district to homeschool their students. To those families we would like to say, while we honor your choice to do what feels best for your students, we would also like you to know that if homeschool turns out not to be the right fit for your family, we will always be here for you. We hope you will hear some of the many positive stories coming out of this first week of school and consider a more flexible online option with us, should you need something different. We are all a part of this community, this Borderite family, and, at the core of it all, we want what is best for kids.

We have continued to make changes and improvements to our processes and communications this week, as we have been throughout the summer. We listen to the feedback we receive and are doing our best to incorporate many of your suggestions. Please keep reaching out to us, so that we may continue to do better tomorrow than we did today.

While we have received some constructive feedback, I am also pleased that we have received a great deal of positive feedback. I am so grateful to see the hard work our administrators and staff have been putting in is paying off for our families. We know families still have concerns, and we encourage you to keep the lines of communication open with teachers, building administrators, and with our district office staff. I truly believe that if we continue to work together we can make this year great.

I will hold a Community Q&A session on Monday, August 31, 2020 at 6:00 P.M. and look forward to “seeing” you then. (The link for the Q&A will post to our website Monday afternoon.)

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

Sincerely,

Dr. Christopher Granger, Superintendent

Every Student. Every Day. In a New Way!

AUGUST 26, 2020

Good Evening Students, Staff, Families and Community,

Welcome back to learning Borderites! Although this year did not start off with the sounds of children squealing with excitement as they passed my window this morning, or kids pouring off the buses, greeting their friends and classmates, it was still a great day. It was great, because we as a community are coming together to embrace the process of learning remotely, to support one another and to show grace and patience.

As is the case every new school year, on every first day, there were a few bumps in the road, and we’ve worked with those of you we have heard from to do our best to iron those issues out. Please continue to keep the lines of communication open, with your teachers, administrators, and with our district office staff, so that we can continue our collaborative problem solving efforts.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to visit the new section of our website for the 2020-2021 school year. We are continuing to load content, literally almost around the clock, as we receive suggestions and comments from both staff and families. Please know we are listening to your feedback and working as rapidly as possible to produce the content you are seeking.

I encourage you to review a section that was added today for Remote Learning Resources and Responsibilities. With this new fully digital platform of learning comes the even more critical component of preparing our students to be responsible digital citizens. Any actions constituting harassment, intimidation or bullying, including cyberbullying, hate mail, defamation, discriminatory jokes, remarks are deemed unacceptable use by School District Policy and Procedure 2022. We have high expectations for all students and staff of the Blaine School District in our learning environments whether they are in the building or in a virtual setting. We expect the image displayed on the screen and/or within the visual frame to meet the same expectations of an in-person classroom environment. I suggest families read through this section of the website and take the time to have conversations around the topic, so all students can contribute to a respectful, compassionate and inclusive online community within their classrooms.

I would like to thank everyone who has reached out with feedback, both the good and the bad, because it all helps us to ensure we do better tomorrow than we did today. That remains my commitment to you. May we continue to elevate one another and rise to the greatness within.

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

With Gratitude,

Dr. Christopher Granger, Superintendent

Every Student, Every Day. In a New Way!

august 21, 2020

Dear students, staff, families and community,

This coming Wednesday, August 26, 2020 is the first day of school for Borderites and we are excited to welcome them back to learning! Our staff has been working hard all summer to provide an improved online learning experience, and we can’t wait for our students to experience all the things that will make this school year great.

Chromebook distribution has been happening this week, and we appreciate the feedback we’ve received regarding the process. If you haven’t yet picked up a chromebook for your student, and need one, please come down this Monday or Tuesday between 10:00 A.M. and 1:00 P.M. or 3:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M. These additional pick up days and times are for both new and returning students.

We have had many questions regarding mobile hot spots. The quantity of hot spots we are receiving is based on the results from our earlier survey about internet connectivity. Those families who completed the survey will be contacted directly in the coming days to arrange pick up of a device which has been determined to be best suited for your home’s geographical location. For those families who did not complete the survey, or who find themselves in need of assistance after the school year begins, we will have a method soon for you to communicate your need. Those families will be put on a waiting list, and given assistance as soon as we are able.

We know there are many questions that still exist for our families, and our staff are working hard to put together the answers you are seeking. A new section of our website is under construction, and it will contain details about the year for each school, sample schedules, school meals information, tech help, updates and announcements and more. Also, our school buildings are all open for office hours, and we encourage you to reach out to them if you have questions or need help.

Each of our schools in central Blaine are hosting a virtual orientation night this year, both for new and transitioning students as well as for those who would like to learn more about how this school year will work. Blaine High School’s event is coming up on Monday, August 24th at 6:00 P.M. The Primary School’s event is Tuesday, August 25th at 5:00 P.M., and the Elementary School’s event will follow it on Tuesday at 6:00 P.M. The Middle School held their event last evening, and their presentation is now available on their website.

We know we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, with many difficult times still ahead, but we are making a conscious effort to steer our ship into the storm, so to speak. We are no longer viewing this as simply something we must get through. Instead we are choosing to embrace the whole experience and focus on the good. We are working hard to make this year great. Not great in spite of the pandemic, simply great. We invite you to turn your ship and head into this storm alongside us, because together we are stronger. It is a great night to be a Borderite, and, as always, a great night to be your superintendent.

Dr. Christopher Granger, Superintendent

Every Student. Every Day. In a New Way!