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10-26-20: A Message from BISD Superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen regarding Hybrid Learning

 
 
Peter Bang-Knudsen
Dear BISD Community,

Last week we announced plans to bring our youngest hybrid learners back for in-person learning on Nov. 9. With all the successful planning that has gone into preparing for in-person learning, we thought we were ready, but the announcement brought to light areas that need continued refinement. Because of this, we are rescheduling our plans to bring hybrid students back for in-person learning until January 2021.
 
RESCHEDULING REASONING

  1. Staffing: Right now, we have enough substitute teachers to cover potential teacher absences if we brought back in-person learning for Preschool, Kindergarten and 1st Grades. However, we are teetering on not having enough. We are actively recruiting substitutes (learn about becoming a substitute teacher here). Still, the process takes time, and the number of substitute employees must substantially increase for in-person learning to be sustainable district-wide.

  2. In-Person Learning Preparedness: Until now, much of BISD’s preparation has focused on the safety measures and what can’t happen in a classroom (such as no singing, no reading circles, etc.), and we need to work with our teachers to create a framework on what is possible. We also heard from many parents who wanted more specifics of what the school day will look like (both during in-person learning and the at-home learning portion of the day), and we will have a sample schedule to share with you soon.

  3. COVID-19 Numbers: While current COVID-19 rates in Kitsap County rates remain in the moderate range of the Washington State Health Department Decision Tree (indicating that we can bring students back), it is essential to note that the rates look backward on where we have been, not forward on what the future brings. With COVID-19 rates spiking across the nation and in surrounding counties in Washington state, there is reason to believe Kitsap rates may increase too. This, coupled with the upcoming holiday season, gave us reason to pause. 
 
BISD is still committed to bringing back our students for in-person learning and we are confident in our COVID-19 safety procedures. That said, we want the students’ learning experience to be positive and enjoyable, and we need more time to ensure a successful return. We are increasing our efforts to recruit and retain substitute teachers and will work internally with our teaching staff on developing safe and effective strategies for in-person hybrid learning. More information will be shared with you in the coming weeks regarding January’s tentative schedule. Our ultimate goal remains to bring hybrid students in grades Preschool through 12th grade to our schools for in-person learning. I am confident that we will achieve it —- especially if we all continue to wear masks and adhere to social distancing.

I also want to acknowledge the strain that individuals and families are feeling during these uncertain times. An announcement like today may elicit a sense of relief in some, and a sense of disappointment in others. Despite these difficulties, I am incredibly proud of our BISD team, and I am confident that we can pull together as a Bainbridge community to serve our students. 

The BISD community impresses me with its level of care, compassion and advocacy. These outstanding traits will help us move forward during this unparalleled year. 

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