Fife Public Schools

A Message from Superintendent Alfano

October 1, 2021

Dear Fife School District Staff and Families,

While the first month of the school year presented some new challenges across the district, we managed to embrace every challenge and turn it into an opportunity to learn and grow. I am very proud of our staff for opening their doors to all students in person - something we haven’t done since March, 2020.

Our leadership teams across the district have been phenomenal. These teams include staff from the district office, as well as our building administrators and their leadership teams. All have worked extremely hard to make sure we are following the latest in COVID recommendations/requirements, adjusting to the sudden growth in the number of parents driving their children to and from school, dealing with supply chain shortages in school meals, administering assessments and collecting the data on our students' learning, and at some schools, navigating the construction impact on daily school logistics. I am also very proud of our teachers and support staff who are handling these challenges with grace, professionalism, and optimism. We have a remarkable team of adults working with our students!

I have been fortunate to meet with local superintendents on a weekly basis since the start of the pandemic. I also have met several times with superintendents from across the country. It is obvious that the impacts on Fife are similar to the impacts on other school districts, both near and far. There is a national shortage of bus drivers, and this has impacted Fife as well. Because we have fewer drivers, we are running fewer bus routes. Because we are running fewer routes, our buses have more students. Because we are trying to keep our buses safe from a virus standpoint, we are having to implement new protocols and adjust those protocols when needed. I am proud of the work being done to address these needs, and I thank parents and students for their patience and support while we continue to tweak our bus routes and protocols. Our goals are twofold: 1) to provide consistent, safe travel to and from school, and 2) to work within the confines of school bus safety regulations.

Returning to school in September also meant the need to address the potential for COVID spread in our schools. Schools are doing everything they can to keep students and staff safe by implementing various mitigation strategies. While positive cases of COVID remain relatively low in our schools, we have had positive cases this month. Each case presents a challenge in the area of contact tracing and identifying those individuals who may have been exposed. This means students and staff have needed to quarantine for the recommended duration of time. This has created a hardship for families and our schools, but fortunately, the contact tracing efforts have shown us that COVID-19 spread in our schools is very little, if at all. Most cases we have experienced in our schools are coming from the outside and/or over the weekends.

As part of our efforts to reduce the number of days students miss school because of a potential COVID exposure, we will be working with the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department to participate in the Test to Stay Program. The program is optional for parents but will allow students to stay in school if they were exposed to a COVID-19 case and considered as a close contact at school. The protocols require testing - done at school - and a modified quarantine from extra-curricular activities. More information will be coming soon about the Test to Stay Program.

In mid-October, we will be sending out an update on construction projects across the district. Another one will be sent in mid-December. We are excited to share the progress from each project, including photos from our new buildings. Someday, we will be able to host public open houses that will allow our community the opportunity to visit our new schools and see the amazing learning environments we are creating with our 2018 bond dollars!

Look for a message from my office the 1st of every month. My communication is meant to complement the messages coming from your child’s school. While we certainly don't want to over communicate with you, we definitely want to be transparent and keep you informed of the important and exciting happenings across Fife Public Schools!

Together We R Fife - and R is for Relationships!