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Information Regarding COVID-19

A RUNNING LIST OF FAQs CAN BE FOUND HERE. 


ANNOUNCEMENT: March 22, 2020 @ 5 p.m.

Dear BISD Community,

What a time we are experiencing together! I greatly appreciate the creative problem-solving and teamwork BISD staff have demonstrated during this unprecedented time.

I am especially appreciative of the staff who are implementing the Grab & Go Meal Program. Over three days last week, more than 1,500 meals were distributed to Bainbridge Island youth. Along with the nutritious meals, families are grateful for a slice of normalcy during this turbulent time. Said one parent, “My child finds great comfort knowing that she’s eating the same lunch as other students across the island. It’s made her feel less alone.” As a reminder, Grab & Go Meals are distributed weekdays from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Blakely, Ordway and Wilkes campuses. The meals are free for youth ages two-18, and youth must be present to receive a meal.

Plans are in motion to distribute student devices. Look for additional details to come from your student’s principal; our goal is to begin device distribution later this week. A special thank you to our Technology Team and paraeducators who worked this weekend collecting, cleaning and planning for the eventual distribution of the technology. I ask for your patience as we work out the logistics.  

By now your student’s teacher(s) and principal have been in communication with you and your child. I’ve heard heart-warming stories about the virtual connections staff are making with students. Relationships are essential to our social and emotional health, and I’m thrilled to know these connections are continuing. 

There are many questions about the impact of our school district’s closure, and we are still working on getting the answers. I remain in almost daily contact with my superintendent colleagues, as well as in contact with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. As soon as answers are known, I will be sure to pass them on to you. 

I hope you were able to enjoy the warm sunshine this weekend. A bit of Vitamin D helps to lift spirits!

In partnership,

Peter Bang-Knudsen
BISD Superintendent


ANNOUNCEMENT: March 17, 2020 @ 3:30 p.m.

Dear BISD Community, 

Despite these times of an extreme national emergency, I saw signs of hope today that lightened my heart. It’s easy to get bogged down at the enormity of the crisis we are facing, so in the spirit of hopefulness, I would like to share what I witnessed today:

  • Small groups of staff, staying six feet apart, preparing breakfast and lunch to feed students ages 2-18 starting tomorrow.

  • Teachers were gathering important work and technology from their classrooms so they can work from home and continue to connect with their students.

  • A father and his two school-aged children were picking up trash from the roadside as a community action project.

I appreciate the challenges, frustrations, and fears that we face as the reality of the “new normal” sets in, and many of us are home for extended periods of time. It can be overwhelming at times when we watch the news and every few hours additional restrictions are put in place by the State or Federal Government. As I’ve stated before, I am extremely confident in our Bainbridge community pulling together during this time of challenge.

I want to highlight that in the time of this national emergency, we as a district are prioritizing our limited resources in the following areas.

  1. Our top priority is the health and safety of our students and staff. Based on state health guidelines, we have significantly reduced the number of staff who report on site, and we are not allowing students or community members into our buildings. There are strict guidelines for how staff can interact on our sites, and we are ensuring that we are meeting those guidelines.

  2. Providing nutrition to the children of Bainbridge. This is a large task and is part of a state-wide effort to ensure that we’re taking care of the most essential needs of our children. I am so proud of the BISD staff who are working to launch this effort. They are doing fantastic work.

  3. Joint emergency planning with the city. BISD is a critical partner in our community’s emergency preparedness efforts to fight this pandemic. We are partnering with the City of Bainbridge, Bainbridge Fire, and Bainbridge Parks to ensure that we are providing essential services to the community throughout this crisis.

  4. Providing ongoing connections and learning for our students. I am proud of the tremendous work that BISD teachers and principals have done to prepare for extended learning opportunities for our students. As mentioned in yesterday’s email, we’ve had some bumps in our planning and implementation due to additional health guidelines from the state. That said, teachers are beginning this week to reach out to their students with some meaningful activities and lesson ideas. We’re still problem-solving some of the logistics of learning from afar, but I’m confident that we’ll continue to improve as we learn together about how this extended learning can work. Again, I ask for your grace and patience as we work through these challenges.

I stopped by the BISD kitchen earlier today to visit with staff preparing for tomorrow's meals. As I watched them slice oranges, I was overwhelmed by their compassion and was reminded of a quote from Mister Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” During this crisis, I challenge you to look for the helpers. They’re all around us.  

In partnership, 

Peter Bang-Knudsen
BISD Superintendent

A BISD staff member preps orange slices for Grab & Go meals.

prepping food for grab & go meals


 

ANNOUNCEMENT: March 16, 2020 @ 4:30 p.m.

 Dear BISD Families,

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we work through this challenging and unprecedented time. 

Educational Resources: At today’s press conference, Governor Jay Inslee shared new measures he’s putting in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Included in his actions was the expansion of limits on social gatherings. Because of the new limits, BISD needs to slow down the remote educational resource opportunities we were going to offer because we are unable to come together and prepare like we originally planned. Instead, teachers will reach out to families with some optional educational activities to keep students engaged. The type of activities will likely vary by grade levels and by teachers. Students are not required to complete these tasks, as not all students have access to devices or the internet at this time.

Chromebooks: Due to enhanced social distancing measures put in place at the state-level, we are unable to distribute Chromebooks to students in grades 6 and below as we initially planned. We will reevaluate this at the end of March.

Retrieving Items Left in Buildings: Due to enhanced social distancing measures put in place at the state-level, we are unable to allow students or parents access to our buildings at this time. This means students are unable to pick up left behind Chromebooks, instruments, etc.  We will reevaluate this at the end of March.

Grade Books: For the time being, the grade book feature in Skyward Family Access has been disabled, and parents/guardians/students are unable to view grades. Students are encouraged to not focus on grades during this time. 

BISD Fields & Playgrounds: We are unable to clean and sanitize our fields and playgrounds. Use at your own risk. 

Food Service: Beginning Wednesday, March 18th, the District will begin offering free meals to all Bainbridge Island youth ages two to 18. These meals can be picked up (curbside) on weekdays between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. at Blakely, Ordway and Wilkes. We will offer hot and cold sack lunches and also cold breakfasts (to refrigerate for the next morning). Students/youth can choose both a breakfast and a lunch.

  • Due to Federal Regulations, students/youth must be present to receive meals. We are not allowed to provide meals for children who are not present. 
  • We will follow the school calendar and there will be no service during Spring Break, the week of April 6th.

As you know, the situation regarding COVID-19 changes daily, and sometimes even hourly. As things evolve, we will continue to communicate how the changes impact our District. 

In partnership,

Peter Bang-Knudsen
Superintendent


ANNOUNCEMENT: March 13, 2020 @ 5:30 p.m.

Dear BISD Community,

First of all, thank you for your continued grace and patience as our school district navigates the change of course brought on from the six-week school closure. I am proud of the progress our team has made in planning for this temporary reality.

Important things to know:

Meal Service: Beginning Wednesday, March 18th, the District will begin offering free meals to all Bainbridge Island youth ages two to 18. These meals can be picked up (curbside) on weekdays between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. at Blakely, Ordway and Wilkes. We will offer hot and cold sack lunches and also cold breakfasts (to refrigerate for the next morning). Students/youth can choose both a breakfast and a lunch.

    • Due to Federal Regulations, students/youth must be present to receive meals. We are not allowed to provide meals for children who are not present. 
    • We will follow the school calendar and there will be no service during Spring Break, the week of April 6.

Your Questions: We are continuing to plan and refine the implementation of remote educational resources. Because our focus is on this, teachers and administrators are unable to reply to individual questions at this time. If you have general questions, please complete this general question form. By the end of the day on Monday, teacher(s) will email you a plan for the next week.

Grades: All gradebooks are currently “frozen”. If students were absent prior to March 12, missed assignments/tests will be addressed at a later time. 

Guidelines for Gatherings: With schools closed, we’ve received questions on what is or isn’t OK for gatherings of children and teens, such as play dates, game nights, etc. Public Health — Seattle & King County have developed some great guidelines and here they can be viewed here.  (Please keep in mind that these guidelines may change as the situation evolves, so check their site if you have questions.)

An important note from our partner, Bainbridge Youth Services: Starting Monday, March 16, Bainbridge Youth Services will continue to offer youth, ages 13-21, free and confidential mental health counseling using secure video conferencing. Appointments can be scheduled at AskBYS.org or leave a message at 206-842-9675.  Counseling appointments are available Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This afternoon, Governor Inslee gave a press conference and he described the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the importance of Washingtonians pulling together in a time of crisis. He likened this situation to that of World War II when community members found many small ways to contribute like Victory Gardens, collecting tin cans, etc. I would encourage each of us to think of ways that we can contribute toward a community effort of combatting this virus. We start by taking care of ourselves, washing our hands, and social distancing. But also think about other ways that you can help our community such as checking in with neighbors who may need assistance, or remembering to contribute to local or regional food banks and social services. I am confident that we can pull together as Bainbridge Islanders and weather this storm. 

Take care of yourself, take care of others, and find joy where you can. 

With much appreciation, 

 Peter Bang-Knudsen

BISD Superintendent


ANNOUNCEMENT: March 12, 2020 @ 7:45 p.m.

Dear BISD Staff and Families,

This afternoon, Governor Jay Inslee announced that all K-12 schools in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties are to be closed beginning Tuesday (or earlier at the school districts’ discretion) through at least April 24, 2020. Governor Inslee is closing the schools in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. His proclamation also included a few other schools that border the stated counties, including Bainbridge Island School District, Darrington School District and Stanwood-Camano School District.  

Because of this, Bainbridge Island School District will remain closed (including Monday, March 16) through at least Friday, April 24, 2020. I know this closure causes a great disruption for students, staff, families — and frankly, the entire community. Not only does school provide students with an education, but it also provides support, services, socialization and consistency. I am sad to think of our school operations temporarily halting mid-year, but faced with the mounting challenges from COVID-19, we have found ourselves in a situation like no other. 

I am proud of the actions I’ve already witnessed by both our district and our community. People are indeed rising to the occasion:

  • Our BISD administrative team is hard at work, planning remote educational resources for students to access
  • Our Food Services team is developing a plan to continue offering healthy food options for students who rely on school meals as part of their nutritional needs
  • We are working with community partners to hammer out the logistics of childcare offerings for those parents who work in health care and emergency services. 

All the above bullet points are in development and will take some time to finalize. Our goal is to implement these programs as soon as possible, and continue through April 24 (except for limited services during Spring Break, the week of April 6). Look for additional details to come in the coming days. We will also announce a time when students can access their needed belongings that were left behind in school buildings. 

I am sure this closure brings up many questions and concerns, and I have them as well. Tomorrow morning I will participate in a conference call with district-area superintendents and Chris Reykdal, the Superintendent of Public Instruction. I imagine many questions will be answered tomorrow, but others will take time. We ask for your patience as we wait for answers.

Speaking of questions, our district has received many questions from concerned students, staff and parents. I apologize that we haven’t had the time to respond to everyone. Moving forward, we created a General Question Form and ask that you complete it with your general questions regarding this closure. Rule of thumb: If you think others would be interested in the answer to your question, it’s general. These general questions will help us as we continue to develop the FAQs about COVID-19. And, we will be sure to share the answers as we receive them.

This is a challenging time not only for our community but for the world. Now, more than ever, it is important to look out for one another, extend grace, and share smiles of encouragement. We are in this together. 

BISD will continue working alongside our state and local partners, and we are thankful for their support. As always, we will communicate information with you as it develops.

BISD STAFF: TAKE NOTE! Friday’s work day remains in effect. Please reference the email I sent you earlier this evening for the specifics.

With great partnership and much appreciation,

Peter Bang-Knudsen

BISD Superintendent


ANNOUNCEMENT: March 11, 2020 @ 4 p.m.

Dear BISD Families,

As you know, COVID-19 is causing an unprecedented health crisis in the greater Seattle area and beyond. BISD is fortunate to have no confirmed cases of the virus in our district at this time, but the impacts from COVID-19’s potential are being felt. Our district is experiencing an increase in staff absences, and we are at the cusp of not having enough staff to safely operate our schools. In addition, today we also heard from Governor Inslee that districts should prepare now for the possible long-term closure of schools. Because of these two factors, BISD schools will be closed on Thursday, March 12 and Friday, March 13 in order for us to continue the planning process. 

As you know, this is a very fluid situation and a lot can change. The governor is expected to make an additional announcement regarding schools in the coming days. Once we learn how the announcement impacts BISD, we will share it with our school community. 

We know this is an unsettling time. Not only are there fears surrounding the virus itself, but there is uncertainty on how the measures taken to slow the virus will impact daily lives and expectations. We are your partner on this journey and we are navigating it alongside you. As the situation surrounding school closures evolves, new questions will arise — some we will know the answers to, and some we will need time to figure out. We ask for your patience and your support as we work through this time together. 

Sincerely, 

Peter Bang-Knudsen 
Superintendent


ANNOUNCEMENT: March 10, 2020 @ 7:45 p.m.

Dear BISD Families,

I want to continue to share updates that relate to COVID-19 and the possible impact it may have on our schools. 

Earlier today, Governor Inslee held a press conference where he shared the significant growth of COVID-19 cases across Washington. He also said that in the upcoming days, the state will take more significant actions to slow down the spread of COVID-19. While we don’t know for sure what actions the Governor will recommend or mandate in the hopes of reducing the spread of the virus, we anticipate his measures may focus on additional social-distancing practices, which may include the temporary closure of schools.

In order to prepare for the potential of school closures, here are some things you should know:

  • We have a task force working to develop Distance Learning opportunities. The opportunities would vary depending on grade level, and would not replicate classroom learning. Instead, they would provide students with an avenue to keep their minds engaged during a school closure. 

  • Distance Learning would not take effect immediately. Staff will need time to plan and prepare for the implementation. 

  • If applicable to your family, please begin planning for childcare needs.

When the school year began in September, I never would have imagined that we would be faced with such a stressful March. I appreciate the care, concern, and suggestions that many of you have shared with me during this unprecedented time. I am also deeply appreciative of the BISD staff who continue to do a remarkable job supporting our students. 

As always, BISD continues to monitor the situation and work closely with our partners. As the situation develops regarding the coronavirus and our school district, we will communicate updates to you. 

Sincerely, 

Peter Bang-Knudsen
BISD Superintendent


ANNOUNCEMENT: March 9, 2020 @ 6:45 p.m.

Dear BISD Staff and Families,

We wanted to update you on some district-level decisions made today surrounding COVID-19 and our schools. These all take effect tomorrow and will be re-evaluated after Spring Break. Please know that we did not make these decisions lightly. While we recognize the impact, we believe it is in the best interest of our students, staff, and community. 

EVENING EVENTS SUCH AS RECITALS, INFORMATION NIGHTS, OPEN HOUSES: CANCELED OR POSTPONED 

We know students and staff have been hard at work preparing for band recitals, and planning special events at schools. However, in an effort to reduce possible exposure to visitors attending our events, or exposure to students from people coming in, we feel this is an important precaution. (Please check your individual school calendars for details and for possible rescheduling.)

SCHOOL FIELD TRIPS: LIMITED 

Field trips are enriching to classroom learning, but for now, all BISD classroom field trips are suspended. The exceptions to this are athletic competitions and specific club competitions approved by the superintendent’s office.  

VOLUNTEERS: LIMITED

We are thankful for our volunteers and the support they provide our students. However, volunteers will be limited to those positions who help deliver school programming and athletic volunteers. Specific information will be posted to your school’s website by noon on Tuesday, March 10.  If you are a program or an athletic volunteer who believes it’s in your best interest to not volunteer at this time, please let your supervisor know. 

BISD CLUBS AND SPORTS: AS SCHEDULED

BISD-sponsored afternoon clubs and BISD sports will remain as scheduled, but are subject to change.

PARENT/GUARDIAN BUSINESS WITH SCHOOLS: AS SCHEDULED

Parents and guardians who have meetings scheduled with school staff may do so. However, we encourage parents and guardians to communicate by email or phone in an effort to reduce the number of people coming in and out of school buildings.

BISD is in continued contact with the City of Bainbridge Island, the Bainbridge Island Fire Department, Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District, and the Kitsap Public Health District. Together, we are closely monitoring COVID-19 and its impact on Bainbridge Island. 

As we work through this situation together, you are encouraged to check the BISD website every morning for any changes to the daily schedule. When snow is falling outside, people are aware of the possibility of school closures due to inclement weather, and know to check our website, social media, the news, or their email, text, etc. for school delays or cancellations. We ask that you check those same communication tools during this time. For instance if we need to close school due to a revised direction from the health department or if we are unable to adequately staff our schools, we will communicate the closure through the same tools we implement for a snow day. 

We understand that this is an incredibly trying time in our community. BISD is working hard to navigate this ever-changing landscape that seems to shift on a daily basis. As always, we will continue to update you as new information develops, or if the situation changes. 


ANNOUNCEMENT: March 8, 2020 @ 8 p.m.

Dear BISD Families,

Earlier this evening, we learned from the Kitsap Public Health District (KPHD) that a Bainbridge Island resident in their 60s has tested positive for COVID-19. 

According to the KPHD News Release:

  • The individual is in isolation and receiving care. 

  • The positive test was reported by the University of Washington. The case is classified as a "presumptive positive" until the test can be confirmed by the state public health laboratory.

  • KPHD has notified a small group of individuals who were identified as having had close contact with the case. These individuals are being asked to stay home

  • At this time, KPHD is not recommending closing schools or restricting public events. If needed, public health may recommend additional prevention strategies in the community, such as alternative work and school arrangements, or cancellation of public events. Kitsap residents should have a plan in case they or their children need to stay home.

  • KPHD said people who are at higher risk for serious illness, including people with underlying health conditions, older adults and pregnant women, should consider avoiding large gatherings to reduce their risk of getting sick.

What does this mean for the Bainbridge Island School District?

Per the KPHD’s recommendation, school will go on as scheduled. The information surrounding COVID-19 can rapidly change, and if we learn about new recommendations from KPHD, we will let you know as soon as possible. 

What if I want to keep my student home?
We understand that there are many different dynamics to this situation and that you need to do what is best for your student and your family. If your student will not be in school, we ask that you follow the necessary steps to report the absence. In addition, it would be helpful if you provided a brief reason as to why your student is absent such as “lives with a family member who has health complications”. 

My child is frightened and anxious about the news of COVID-19. How can I help ease their fears?
Seattle Children’s Hospital recently published a helpful article entitled Helping Children and Teens Cope with Anxiety About COVID-19.

Where can I learn more?

We know that this is an unsettling time in our community, in our state — and beyond. Our hearts and our thoughts go out to the patient on Bainbridge, as well as the others suffering from the virus.   

We will continue to work closely with KPHD, the City of Bainbridge Island and other government agencies. As new information develops, we will update you. 


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