January 19th, 2021
Greetings Meridian Students and Families,
I want to provide a further update on our hybrid learning plans at Meridian and provide an opportunity for all of you to share your input on characteristics you value for a new building leader. As we prepare for the hiring process for an interim principal for Meridian Middle School, we welcome feedback on the characteristics of a building leader. Last Friday's message included information about Mr. Sanderson electing to take leave through the end of this school year. We have initiated a hiring process to name an interim principal and have always valued community input. Due to COVID and our hiring timeline, a survey seemed to be the best method to solicit input. Please respond to this survey before the end of the day on Friday, January 22nd.
Further Update on Hybrid Learning Plans
Last Friday morning I shared a message about our plans to shift our Kindergarten and first-grade students to learning in-person four days a week, as well as our intent to return both our remaining middle and high school students to our schools – in a hybrid learning model – starting February 1st. In that message, I shared a letter released December 16th from Dr. Greg Stern, Health Officer from the Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD). Dr. Stern and the team at the WCHD have been partnering and guiding districts, including Meridian, as we have moved through this pandemic, guiding opening plans, daily protocols, and assisting in supporting staff members. From the very beginning we have continued to work together to ensure our protocols and opportunities for learning are as safe as they can be – and appropriate for the conditions.
As Whatcom County superintendents watched the transmission rates rise over the past couple of weeks, we requested a meeting with Dr. Stern to discuss the guidance, the rates, and the emphasis on the mitigation measures. As we discussed these topics we continued to hear research and evidence demonstrates schools in Washington and Whatcom County “have successfully demonstrated their ability to implement mitigation strategies, monitor students and staff for symptoms, and quickly identify cases and contacts and exclude them from school.” Dr. Stern released another letter yesterday afternoon, stating the WCHD, “have not changed our recommendations from December 20, and I am providing the clarification you requested about the action thresholds and mitigation measures cited in the DOH recommendation.” He further stated later in the letter that, “WCHD does not see a need to scale back in-person learning for whole grades or schools.” I encourage everyone to read these two letters from Dr. Stern.
Meridian School District has been thoughtful and cautious in our effort to bring students back to in-person learning throughout this school year. We do understand the benefits of in-person learning to our students and their families. We continue to follow the Whatcom County Health Department recommendations and state guidelines. Our protocols are in place and followed closely. For these reasons and those provided by Dr. Stern, we continue to plan for the return of our students on Monday, February 1st. As always, we will continue to monitor conditions, work with the WCDH, and report any changes out to all of you.