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Update from BISD: July 28, 2020

Dear BISD Community,
 
Making plans for the 2020-21 school year during a pandemic is like hiking up a mountain trail that constantly changes directions. In early July, we thought we were heading on a path that would allow us to offer some in-person instruction. Now, we find ourselves on a path that no longer supports this option — at least not initially. 

Today, we are joining several other school districts in the area to announce a difficult decision. Students enrolled in the Hybrid Learning Model will begin their school year in a Continuous Learning (distance learning) environment; Bainbridge Island School District teachers will provide the instruction.  Note: There may be exceptions for students with special education whose disabilities significantly impact their access to an online learning environment.  Decisions regarding the implementation of a student's IEP will be determined by his/her IEP team.   

At this time, we are unable to provide the in-person portion of the Hybrid Learning Model due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in Kitsap County. Dr. Susan Turner, Health Officer for Kitsap Public Health District, supports our decision to pivot to this educational model. In a recent letter she wrote: 

Based on the COVID-19 disease activity in Kitsap County and our region, we do not feel it is safe to open schools for traditional classroom learning in August or September. The Kitsap Public Health District and Kitsap Public Health Officer support Kitsap’s school district plans to provide online educational services as the 2020-21 school year begins, in order to protect the health of students, staff, family members, and our broader community.  

You can read Dr. Turner’s complete letter here
NEW AND IMPROVED CONTINUOUS LEARNING 2.0

The Continuous Learning model BISD students will experience in the fall will be a significant improvement over what was offered last spring. Families can expect a more robust learning environment filled with increased expectations, enhanced engagement and consistent teacher feedback. We are thankful for the Continuous Learning planning team who has worked hard this summer to address the concerns shared with us last spring.

We are committed to implementing Continuous Learning for the first nine weeks of school. We will then reevaluate the situation to see if we can pivot to provide some in-person instruction. We know in-person instruction is the best for most students and staff, and it remains our ultimate goal. 

100% ONLINE HOME LEARNING MODEL

We heard several concerns about the 100% Online Home Learning Model option and its heavy reliance on the Edgenuity platform. We are evaluating this option for students who require (or want) an entirely online learning model. We are looking to provide more BISD teacher support and instruction for these students and rely less on Edgenuity. More details will be shared once we have a firm idea on the number of students enrolled in this model.

QUESTIONS & CONCERNS

This announcement undoubtedly brings relief to some community members while also causing disappointment and hardship for others. BISD remains committed to our students, staff and families. As we did last spring when COVID-19 interrupted our school environment, we will continue to provide students with the necessary technology to support their learning, as well as provide meal options. We also continue partnering with local community services to help connect BISD families to childcare and behavioral health resources. 

This pivot to Continuous Learning happened quickly — and we are working to develop a list of Q&As.  If you have general questions, please submit them to BISDreopening@bisd303.org and we will post the answers to our website. 

MAKING AN EDUCATIONAL MODEL SELECTION IN SKYWARD (IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY DONE SO)

Last week we shared that we were “pausing” the decision-making process because we suspected additional guidance from the Kitsap Health District was coming our way. Now that we have the Kitsap Public Health District’s recommendation, we can move forward with our planning. 

If you haven’t already done so, please login to Skyward and make an educational model selection for your student(s) for the 20-21 school year. Please make your selection by 5 p.m. on Friday, July 31. If a selection is not made for a student, we will automatically enroll him/her in the Hybrid Learning Model. 

As a reminder, your options are:
  • Hybrid Learning Model (with at least the first nine weeks of the school year being held fully remotely)
  • 100% Online Home Learning 
 
If you have already made a selection in Skyward and you wish to change your selection, please follow these instructions. Again, please make the change by 5 p.m. on Friday, July 31.

If you have already made a selection in Skyward and do not wish to make a change, you do not need to do anything at this time. 

SCHOOL BOARD MEETING

Our plans for the 2020-21 school year will be discussed in greater detail at Thursday’s (July 30) school board meeting at 5:45 p.m. Interested members of the public are invited to watch or listen to the meeting via this link: https://zoom.us/j/99189484055

There is nothing I want more than to hear the BHS Marching Band practicing outside my office window, or to welcome students off the bus on the first day of school. Unfortunately, those things will have to wait a bit. Until then, please join me in doing your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing masks, practicing social distancing and staying home when not feeling well. The sooner we overcome the threat of this virus, the sooner our school doors can re-open.

In partnership,
 
 
Peter Bang-Knudsen
Superintendent
pbangknudsen@bisd303.org