First, thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate the challenges introduced by this global pandemic. These are difficult times and there’s no doubt that the hardships many are experiencing due to school and business closures are creating additional challenges and anxiety. While I would like to provide clear answers amidst this present uncertainty, I must say that as it pertains to many of your questions about school, we continue to learn new information each day.

With all that said, I wanted to reach out and share the best information we have at this time. In sharing this update with you I must also say that as things change, and when new information is made available, we remain committed communicating that information with you.

  • From the moment the state-wide school closure was announced, our number one priority was to ensure that children do not go hungry.
    • Our school district began modified meal service on Thursday, March 19. Free meals are available to ALL children in the community throughout the statewide school closure (food service will not be offered during the week of spring break, April 6 – April 12). The “grab and go” meals being prepared will include both breakfast food and a lunch meal in one sack. Food is provided at no cost to ALL children, but children must be present to receive food. Starting March 23, meals will be distributed at the following locations from 11:00am to 12:00pm (look for a Deer Park School District bus):
      • Deer Park Elementary
      • Deer Park Middle School
      • Home Link – Administration Bldg.
      • Home Link – Clayton Bldg.
      • Dalton and Owens
      • Dalton and Montgomery
      • Williams Valley and Price – 11:00-11:25; Swenson and Bittrich Antler Rd. – 11:30 to 12:00.
      • One school bus will travel between four town stops:  Simply Childish – D & Mission from 11:00-11:10; Children’s Cottage 7th and Arnim from 11:15-11:25; DP Eagles parking lot from 11:30-11:40; and Airport and Carol intersection 11:50-12:00.
  • Our second priority was to respond to the Governor’s directive to schools to be a childcare provider of last resort for parents working in the health care field and first responders.
    • As the number of COVID-19 cases increase in our area, there is a very real possibility that the health care system may become overwhelmed. Schools around the state, including ours, are creating childcare programs to meet the specified need.

First responders & Health care workers can register for childcare using the following link:

https://forms.gle/iS8fKbvMFUrEgsA29

 

  • Finally, teachers continue the work of envisioning and creating learning opportunities that will be offered to students throughout this extended closure.
    • Instructional staff had just one day (Monday, March 16th) to begin discussions regarding what types of learning experiences and opportunities we can realistically provide to students, seeing that teachers will not see students face-to-face for 6 weeks or more. As you would imagine, depending on the age of the student and the content being taught, any ongoing education will look very different. At this time, our State Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has made it clear that the learning resources we provide to students should not be intended to replace regular curriculum and instruction – teachers will not be designing or sharing any required and/or graded coursework. Teachers are working to provide optional, supplemental activities intended to keep students engaged and connected to learning.
    • While some limited information and guidance have been provided during these first few days of the school closure, all families should expect to hear from their schools/teachers Monday or Tuesday next week (the week of Monday, March 23).

Please be aware that Deer Park’s school buildings are now closed to ALL drop-in access. With the exception of essential staff, access to interior spaces is only an option for those with an invitation or with approval from a building or district leader in order to accomplish district business. Should some of our teachers put together paper packets or provide access to physical materials in the days and weeks ahead, we are considering options for pick-up and/or distribution. One option is to use our daily meal distribution as a mechanism to provide access to physical learning materials. Stay tuned for details on this front.

With teachers back at work on Monday (not back in classrooms, but back on the job), I must say that the inability to meet in buildings or in groups larger than ten has made staff collaboration difficult and, in spite of our best efforts, will hamper our ability to provide the level of uniformity and consistency we desire. That said, going forward, staff plan to use every tool at our disposal to coordinate their efforts and provide students and families with access to learning materials and opportunities. We also know exclusive reliance on online resources inequitably impacts many of our families lacking Internet access and/or devices and will ensure we work hard to meet the needs of the greatest number of families.

As mentioned earlier, we continue to work with and receive guidance from OSPI and from Washington’s State Board of Education. We expect another detailed update from OSPI on March 23rd – as a part of that release of information, we hope to hear more about the availability of additional learning resources and more information related to provisions for this year’s graduating seniors.

As communicated in an earlier update, assuming we return to school on April 27th (or really, at any time this school year), we know we’ll be in school at least until June 19th – prior to this extended closure the last day of the school year was June 10. Additionally, our published school calendar used May 22nd as an “emergency make-up day” – that is, no school on that day unless we would have need to make-up missed school days. Well, clearly, we have need to make us missed school days. So, please be aware that May 22nd is now a school day.

We want to issue a sincere thank you to district employees and individuals in our community who have already been incredibly helpful and played an important role in getting our food service and childcare programs off the ground. We know that so many are impacted by this situation in different ways, and yet each day we see and hear of exceptional efforts by people who are uniting to support the well-being of our children in this community. Please be healthy and safe in the days ahead, we’ll be in touch again very soon.

 

With Sincerity and Gratitude,

Travis W. Hanson

Superintendent

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