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superintendent's messages

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!