The 2020-21 school year is here – Tuesday, Sept. 8th marks the first student day of the school year! Each school’s office staff are ready to register new students and answer any questions you might have about the upcoming school year. Elementary school supply lists have been posted on the websites of both Deer Park Elementary and Arcadia Elementary. Additionally, on an annual basis, we remind families to take a few minutes to review important information available at Deer Park School District’s Annual Notifications web page.
Given the ongoing concerns related to the pandemic, many families/students have chosen to begin the 2020-21 school year in one of our newly created remote learning models. Each of our schools has teachers and support staff dedicated to providing distance learning opportunities, using engaging online tools as well as specifically-tailored instructional approaches to help kids learn from home (or wherever they learn best!).
For many families, remote learning is simply not an option – challenges related to childcare needs and/or lack of Internet connectivity are significant barriers to learning from a distance. With this in mind, Deer Park is offering families an in-person experience using a hybrid schedule. The split/rotating schedule (CLICK HERE for the 2020-21 school calendar) allows us to limit the number of students on buses and in classrooms each day, enabling us to better attend to the State’s required 6ft distancing protocols.
Regardless of the model families choose, we’re pleased to report that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently extended waivers that allow ALL children ages 0–18 to receive breakfast and lunch at no cost through the end of December 2020. Chris Reykdal, Washington’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, said, “…the pandemic requires our education system to be flexible and innovative in order to respond to student needs. I’m grateful to the advocates across the state who pushed for these waiver extensions with us. Washingtonians are working hard together to ensure our most vulnerable students and families have the food they need.”
Please read the following to see how Deer Park is working within the Dept. of Health’s requirements to offer families the safest in-person model we possibly can:
IN-PERSON REQUIREMENTS – PPE, PHYSICAL DISTANCING, AND SCREENING (SYMPTOM CHECKING):
As we’ve communicated previously, the Washington State Department of Health is requiring that schools choosing to offer in-person instruction this fall must ensure compliance with three specific requirements: PPE (face coverings), physical distancing, and health screening/symptom checking.
- PPE: While we strongly encourage families to provide cloth face coverings for their children, our schools are ready to provide PPE for any child who does not have a mask or shield. It’s also vitally important for parents to know that children cannot ride the school bus without a face covering. Drivers will have an adequate supply of masks for children boarding the bus who may not have a face covering, but in order to board and ride, children must wear a mask or shield. The Secretary of Health Order (20-03) clearly defines face-covering exemptions as follows: Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, developmental or cognitive condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering. This includes, but is not limited to, persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a face-covering could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance. Building principals must have medical documentation (or documentation from an IEP team) prior to allowing any exemption from face-covering on a bus or at school. While still attending to physical distancing requirements, masks may be removed during outdoor activities.
- Physical distancing: The core premise of the district’s split/rotating schedule is the need to reduce the number of students on buses and in school each day to allow compliance with 6ft. distancing requirements. We understand that in the context of a school day, there will be times when physical distancing parameters may be compromised, but it’s important to be reminded that the CDC defines a potential “COVID transmission event” as 15 minutes of exposure within 6 feet without the benefit of masks. Thus, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is not transmitted by individuals crossing paths in the hallway, a quick interaction on a piece of playground equipment, or across a classroom – especially when masks are worn and hand hygiene is observed.
- Health Screening/Symptom Checking: Districts are being asked to ensure that daily symptom checks are done before students participate in school; unfortunately, the logistics of having school personnel perform a symptom check on every person (adult and student) entering the building each day are impractical, if not impossible. So, we need as many families as possible to do these symptom checks each morning prior to sending children to school. All schools will be using a process we’re calling the “ORANGE PASS” system. Each family will be provided with a supply of “ORANGE PASSES” before the start of the school year and will be expected to send their children to school each day with a completed pass. Students that do not have a completed and signed “ORANGE PASS” will be sent to a building-based screening station before going to class.