Geneva Family Gnome News

February 2021

A note from the principal...

Hello Grown Gnomes!

Can you believe today marks the half way point in the school year? Second semester starts tomorrow, and this milestone brings a range of emotions for all of us.

Here is a sampling of my recent conversations:

"How is the year half over, and we are still at home?"

"There is only half a year left, if only we can stay at home..., "

"It has almost been 11 months since the world slowed down, when will we return to a sense of normalcy?"

"How will children ever catch up?"

"My child has never been so successful academically!"

Your voices are heard and felt. None of us would have chosen this stretch of our life journey, and it is important to remember that not one of us are having an identical experience. Fortunately, scientists are providing hopeful news daily that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and each day we are getting closer to a return to normalcy.

Until that happens, please help us support a safe learning environment for your child. For those with children learning in person, our best risk mitigation strategies remain: frequent hand washing, masks worn over the mouth and nose, as well as, social distancing. We all get tired of hearing this, but it is worth reminding children that it matters. Please check your child's mask for fit and wear. Wet and dirty masks should be laundered. We are happy to provide an extra for the rotation if it helps.

For those of you with children continuing to learn remotely at home, please continue to stay in touch with us if you have questions or concerns about your child, or any technology issues that arise throughout the learning day. We are here to support.

As the rates of COVID transmission continue to slow following the holiday season, we are hopeful to be able to bring back more of our students for in person learning in a variety of possible models. As soon as we know more, you will hear from our team.

Courage, Brain, Heart Gnomes!


Sharece Steinkamp

Upcoming Events

Feb. 2 - NO SCHOOL Semester Break

Feb. 3 - Meal Box Distribution 4:00-5:30

Feb. 10 - Meal Box Distribution 4:00-5:30

Feb. 12 - Semester Summaries sent home with Pre-grade 2 in backpacks

Feb. 12 - Semester Summaries mailed home to grades 3-5.

Feb. 15 - NO SCHOOL President's Day

Feb. 17 - Meal Box Distribution 4:00-5:30

Feb. 24 - Meal Box Distribution 4:00-5:30


Mar. 3 - Meal Box Distribution 4:00-5:30

Mar. 10 - Meal Box Distribution 4:00-5:30

Mar. 17 - Meal Box Distribution 4:00-5:30

Mar. 24 - Meal Box Distribution 4:00-5:30

Mar. 31 - Meal Box Distribution 4:00-5:30

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Valentine's Day in the Age of COVID

For our classrooms that are learning in-person, teachers are planning instructional activities throughout the day that focus learning through the lens of friendship, kindness, compassion and gratitude. There will be opportunities throughout the day on February 12th for students to create items for friends.

Children are welcome to bring cards from home if they have one for every child in his or her classroom, but it is not expected. Please avoid any cards that need to be licked to be sealed. We will not have food items during any of our celebrations this year.

Thank you for helping us make this annual tradition safe and special.

Information about Remote Learning Interruptions

Last week, Bellingham Public Schools, including Geneva, and many of our students and teachers were without internet access.

Here are some general guidelines about power/internet outages :

· If a teacher can’t start a class because of an extenuating circumstance, a Geneva staff member will message their students and/or families as soon as possible with next steps through Seesaw.

· If a teacher loses connection during a class, students should stay on the class for a few minutes while the teacher logs back in. If the teacher is unable to make it back quickly, please check students’ Seesaw account for instructions from the teacher.

Some families have asked whether power outages would result in a cancelled day of remote learning, like a snow day.

The answer is that we will work to keep school running as much as possible. Just like with snow, the decision will be made at a district level on a case-by-case basis. The more an outage is short or contained to specific areas, the less likely schools would close. The longer the outage or the larger the area, the more likely schools could close.

The school district will use email, text messaging and the district website to communicate closures, if any. To be prepared, take a few minutes to login to Skyward Family Access and update your family’s communication preferences in the Skylert tab. If you need help logging in to Skyward Family Access, please contact Teresa Babcock at

Promise Tomorrow Learning Opportunity Grades 3-12

Here’s a great opportunity for students looking for academic enrichment in a group setting with peers

The Promise Tomorrow Initiative is a great opportunity for motivated students to engage in student-driven inquiry! This is project-based learning at its best. Students will work on quarterly projects that envision creative solutions to transition to a better world. Students will research complex topics, then innovate technologies, designs, or plans to mobilize behavior. Student teams will meet weekly via Zoom, be supported by a volunteer, and be supervised by a Promise Tomorrow Coordinator. Projects will be presented quarterly with a final symposium in June. Those interested, please see detailed information and sign up link on the district website. Questions about the project can be directed to the project administrative team, by level: Margi Smith (Elementary), Eva Chazo (Mid—level), or Erin Burke (High School)

Geneva PTA

All are welcome!
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Weekly meal boxes

Meal box pick ups continue on Wednesdays from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at 15 school locations and six community locations including Geneva Elementary, Kulshan Middle School and the Barns at Sudden Valley.

We encourage all families to pick up a free box of 14 meals and support our food services program and the Good Food Project in Bellingham Public Schools, as well as our local community. In every week’s box, we will provide a scratch-made entrée out of our Central Kitchen with ingredients sources from local farms when available. Now is a great time to bring the school cafeteria into your home with these meals. By picking up a box, you will keep farmers in business, district staff employed and families fed.

In Person Learning Daily Breakfast and Lunch Munu

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If you think your family might qualify, please apply.

Although Meal Boxes are available to any and all families during the COVID-19 crisis, if you think your family may qualify for Free or Reduced Price Meals, please apply. A variety of federal and state programs are funded based on the needs of our community. If we can assist this process, please email Principal Sharece Steinkamp at Your application materials and participation are completely confidential.

What happens if someone has a confirmed case of COVID-19 at Geneva?

As you know, last week, one of our primary in-person learning communities returned to remote learning after learning that one of their members tested positive with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

The reason for a classroom returning to remote learning following a confirmed case of COVID is to ensure we can carefully monitor the community to identify and isolate transmission. What we keep observing in data from both the Whatcom County Health Department as well as State Boards of Health across the United States is that classroom transmission is rare to non-existent. A student may come to school with COVID before it is detected, but we are not seeing viral spread within a classroom community. All of that hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing works.

The other important mitigation strategy in place at Geneva is that classrooms are a tight cohort. Children learn together, eat together and play together as a classroom community. Classes do not mix in much the same way that our families have become our tight circle of human contact during the last ten months.

It might be helpful to know that if we ever have another member of our school community who has a confirmed case of COVID-19, I will always communicate with our community. Please know that the classroom with the confirmed COVID case will receive a personal phone call. If you get an informational email, but have not heard from a team member at Geneva, neither your child's class, nor your child is a close contact.

You are always invited to email or call me if you have questions. Please know that personal information is legally protected, and the staff at Geneva and I will gladly share factual information, but will not disclose information that pertains to any specific individual.

We partner closely with the Whatcom County Health Department. I highly recommend their website if you have specific questions. Bellingham Public Schools has modeled a data dashboard that will look familiar if you frequent the Whatcom County Health Department COVID-19 Dashboard. I have included the link below.

Are we good neighbors?

If you drop off or pick up your child from school, please adhere to local traffic laws and practice courtesy for our neighbors. We want to do our best to make sure our neighbors can access their driveways and mailboxes during pick up and drop off times. A smile and a friendly wave go a long way toward our neighbors feeling appreciated and recognized for the inconvenience our revised traffic patterns have caused in our effort to provide safe transportation options four our children during this pandemic.