Superintendent's Message

September 29, 2020

Greetings Meridian Families, Students, and Community

Yesterday we started Step 2 of our MSD Enhanced Remote Learning Steps to gradually return students to in-person learning in our buildings. Over the past two weeks, we have been communicating with families of students who have specific learning needs and require therapies that are not possible in a remote learning model. As we move through this process and refine our protocols we plan on welcoming additional student groups back to our campuses. We will be communicating the next steps on our website and through direct messages to families.

Transition Plan

In the summer we shared we would evaluate bringing students back to campus for hybrid learning at the 9-week mark. Since then we have received additional guidance to bring students back in smaller groups after ensuring it can be done safely. The move to bring students to campus in Step II is happening sooner than we had planned. We originally considered bringing our K-2 students at one time. However, we typically provide a week for our Kindergarten students to learn about school and get familiar with routines. We feel it is important to do so here, too.


Therefore, we currently plan on welcoming our remote IRE Kindergarten students, as well as other populations with high needs, to Irene Reither Elementary on Monday, October 19th. The following week, on Monday, October 26th, we will bring our 1st and 2nd graders to campus. There will be a two to three-week window before adding additional grade bands. Each step will help us prepare for the next group of students, adding grades 3-5 next, then grades 6-8, and 9-12, as conditions allow. After each transition to bring students back to campus, we will be monitoring case increases, community transmission, and guidance from the State and Whatcom County Department of Health.

Athletics Update

Meridian has a rich and storied athletic history. We recognize and understand the importance of activities and athletics for our students. Unfortunately, the current guidance from the State Department of Health is clear that districts are not to engage in extracurricular activities until all students experience in-person learning. There have been meetings around the state this past week or so with the WIAA, the Governor’s Office, Washington Risk Management Pool, and the State Department of Health to address athletics access – and we are hopeful for new guidance soon. From the very beginning, we have conveyed an interest in preserving the health and safety of our students and staff. We are going to hold for the new guidance before we start sport-specific activities. We did open our weight room for a period of time this summer to allow for fitness and conditioning with small pods of students. We will restart the general fitness and conditioning program at the high school Monday, October 5th, before and after school. We will examine the new guidance when it comes out. Our desire is to engage our students while also complying with the guidance we have been given.

MSD Principals ROCK!

Big picture

Looking ahead… October is National Principal Recognition Month. Our principals have done a phenomenal job supporting our students, teachers, and families. In what we could describe as a normal year, the role is complex and never-ending - advocating for all while also addressing needs and problem-solving. In this new, uncertain environment they have had all of that while also trying to navigate new areas like health and wellness, remote learning, protocols, and a number of other areas that haven’t quite yet been defined! Please join us in recognizing and thanking Michelle Siadal, MP3 Principal, Dawn Christiana, Irene Reither Elementary Principal, Jerry Sanderson, Meridian Middle School Principal, and Derek Forbes, Meridian High School Principal for their outstanding service and support!

Feeling Sick? Please Stay Home

When we are able to return to our classrooms we need everyone to work together to stay healthy. In the new environment of the pandemic, it is extremely important for all students and staff to stay home if they are feeling sick or ill. If your student is ill, please contact their school office to report their absence from school. These steps are important contributions everyone can make to help ensure a successful return to in-person learning. We will also be sharing details about daily wellness screening to help us ensure students and staff who are on campus are feeling healthy and minimize interruptions to the learning process. More on this piece is coming soon.

Thank You

Finally, thank you to our families for all you are doing to support your students in this new model of remote learning. We have initiated the Guardian function in Google Classroom to help keep parents informed of what is being assigned and encourage connecting with teachers when there are questions. These are new tools and we continue to refine how we are working with them to provide support on our end. We appreciate your feedback and partnership as we move through these transitions.


Sincerely,


James Everett