On April 6, Gov. Jay Inslee directed Washington state schools to remain closed for the rest of the 2019–2020 school year. We have missed seeing our students over the past few weeks and had hoped that our schools would be able to reopen their doors later this spring, but we know it is essential for us to act responsibly for everyone’s safety.
Beginning this week, our nearly 24,000 students are continuing their education through remote learning with teachers, principals, district staff and parents and guardians working together. We are doing the very best we can to meet the academic and non-academic needs of our students. I am sorry that this situation puts more strain on families. I know that you are doing the very best you can, too. Now, more than ever, we all need to act with empathy, grace and compassion.
Families have many questions about how this extended closure will affect every area of K-12 education, including students’ grades and GPAs, diplomas and graduations, extracurricular activities and students’ overall learning progress. We are working hard to develop and share information that addresses those questions based on guidance from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. For updates, please visit our webpage for information and answers to frequently asked questions.
I am particularly heartbroken for our seniors. I want to assure you that we will do everything possible to help you cross the finish line and graduate on time. I also want to assure you that our schools are still planning for the special events that make the 12th grade year so special, including senior prom, graduation and senior party, even if they must be scheduled for summer or early fall. They may look different, but we will find creative ways to make them happen if necessary.
As we look ahead to next school year, we realize that the remote learning we are doing this spring has limitations, so it will be necessary to help students make up for missed course content and other school work. We are examining a variety of ways to help our students achieve their educational goals after normal school operations are allowed to resume.
In the meantime, VPS will continue to provide free meals. Resource coordinators are helping families with food and other basic needs. And we will continue our partnership with Educational Service District 112 to offer childcare for healthcare workers, first responders, pharmacy workers and grocery store workers. To request child care, please contact Educational Service District 112 Child Care Resource and Referral at 360-952-3466.
Thank you for your patience as we navigate this disruptive and disappointing situation. Stay well and stay hopeful. Our connections to one another are critically important right now. I am confident that we will pull through this difficult time by doing our best to help one another.
Steve Webb, Ed.D.