Sports games, community dinner, senior vs staff basketball game among the canceled activities on San Juan Island

The following letter from San Juan Island School District Superintendent Kari McVeigh updates the community on cancellations due to COVID-19. There are no known cases in the San Juan Islands but in an abundance of caution steps are being taken to lessen risk.

Dear Parents, Staff and Community,

I wanted to give you all a more detailed update on our School District planning if our island experiences the Coronavirus. Please know that currently WE HAVE NO KNOWN CASES OF THE CORONAVIRUS IN SAN JUAN ISLAND.

Our County Department of Health is not suggesting that schools should be closed down now…but they are advising against holding meetings of ten or more people. We take this to mean new people to a group meeting and to that end, we are canceling Friday’s Senior Staff Basketball game, Wednesday’s Community Dinner and our March 26th Partner’s Luncheon. They are also advising against non-essential travel off the island. We are cancelling all field trips, staff travel for trainings and sending sports teams off island as well as other teams coming here. We will re-evaluate these changes to our practice at the end of March to determine if we need to continue.

We are continuing to disinfect our schools on a daily basis and encourage all students and staff to wash their hands frequently and not touch their faces. To help with these efforts we are installing hand sanitizer dispensers near the front doors of all classrooms…much like the kind you see in doctor’s offices. If we are safe from the Coronavirus, we will also decrease exposure to colds and other flu viruses by these classroom practices.

Our plans for teleschooling continue. Currently, we have enough Chrome books to provide each student with a laptop. We are working with Rock Island this week to ensure that families without internet access will be provided this service. Please understand, that NO district in the country per federal law, will be able to offer teleschooling unless, ALL students are able to access those services. We have created plans for all of our free and reduced lunch students to have breakfast and lunch provided per the law. We also have a plan for all Special Needs students to have services provided. This week we are planning how we would distribute laptops to students and what instructional schedules might look like.

In the event of school closure due to COVID 19, we would most likely close all schools for a day or two to provide training to our staff about what the reality of teleschooling would mean for them, in terms of classroom lessons and instructional schedules. Also, please understand that teleschooling options will only continue as long as we have healthy teachers and substitutes who can teach.

Our State has said that school districts must make up days missed due to any school closure, but have also said that no district will be asked to extend the school year past June 19th. We are hopeful that with teleschooling options, if we need to close, we will have just a few days to make up and that students will be provided appropriate and necessary education opportunities.

An article by medical researchers, in Saturday’s New York Times, stressed the importance of school closure when a community experiences several cases of the virus. Because our island is so small and our community so tight knit, if we receive one case of COVID 19 we will close schools until the Health Department indicates it is safe to reopen. Remember, WE HAVE NO KNOWN CASES OF THE CORONAVIRUS ON SAN JUAN ISLAND.

I am in regular conversation with our Health Department to know the health status of our island and will continue to do so until our island is beyond this health threat.

Stay Calm and Wash Your Hands!

Be well,

Kari McVeigh

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