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Ferndale School Board holds online meeting – gets closure updates

Vista Middle School sign (April 3, 2020). Photo: My Ferndale News

FERNDALE, Wash. — The Ferndale School Board held a regular meeting via online video conferencing Thursday, April 2nd and there was no shortage of topics to cover given the unprecedented school closures to minimize the spread of COVID-19 disease during the pandemic.

Executive Director of Student Services Paul Douglas brought board directors up-to-date on the food service distribution program recently started to continue providing nutrition during the school closures. He said the program was coordinating with the Ferndale Food Bank, Miracle Food Network and the Food Security Taskforce within Whatcom Unified Command to ensure students in need are being reached and nothing goes to waste. In addition to the grab-and-go locations at many Ferndale school campuses, meals are also being delivered to 36 drop-off locations in order to reach many students unable to get to the pickup points.

Superintendent Linda Quinn said the meals are for all students in need regardless of where they attend school. Given the financial struggles facing many families, the need is always changing and there is a hotline, (360) 383-9236, for drop-off locations and other information.

Executive Director of Teaching & Learning Kellie Larrabee told the board directors about the daycare service program that was recently launched at Cascadia Elementary School in partnership with Whatcom Family YMCA. The program has been opened to serve families of essential workers. Interested families are asked to complete a survey as a first step for application to the program.

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Larrabee said several families had enrolled but not all are currently attending. Quinn said 52 surveys had been submitted but not everyone has had the need.

Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Scott Brittain said content-based learning plans for elementary and secondary students were expect to be rolled out April 13th.

Director Melinda Cool said her son, a sophomore, has had mixed contacts from teachers since the closure began. 1 teacher had provided coursework soon after the closure began and then recalled it due to instructions from administrators and, in another example, there had been 1 contact with a teacher but it was not about coursework. Cool asked, as a parent, what can be expected now that schools had been closed for 3 weeks.

Brittain said learning plans have been in development while assessing each student’s access to a computer and internet service to be able to utilize the online tools.

Brittain said plans are being made at the state level regarding graduation requirements. He expected the state to deliver the final rules next week. He expects that the district will be empowered to provide waivers and “blended learning” opportunities to meet graduation requirements when possible. Waivers were expected to be utilized in some instances where students were already on course and enrolled in required classes at the time of the school closures.

The directors also unanimously approved a formal resolution to rescind the levy proposition from the April Special Election ballot. They also unanimously approved a resolution granting the superintendent the power to make some decisions that would normally require board approval in order to quickly respond to challenges presented by the state and federal mandates to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

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