Kent School District

Watts Happening: News from Dr. Watts Apr 2020

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WATTSHAPPENING SUPERINTENDENT'S UPDATE WITH DR. CALVIN J. WATTS APRIL 2020 Spring Break for Kent School District is next week Monday, April 6 through Friday, April 10. While it seems as if nothing is normal right now, we are honoring this date and asking the majority of our staff members to unplug and embrace this important break. We invite you to do the same with your families. Meal services the week of Spring Break are moving to a three- day service model in support of social distancing. We will distribute meals to children during Spring Break on Monday, April 6, Wednesday, April 8, and Friday, April 10. Each box will include breakfast and lunch for two days. Meal distribution will continue at the same times and locations, the full schedule is on our website, and children do not have to be present for someone to pick up a meal for them. We are so appreciative to our staff members from Nutrition Services, Transportation and Community Volunteers throughout our district who are making this essential service possible for our community during what is a bargained school closure during our calendar year. This school year continues to present unprecedented challenges. Our amazing staff members continue to build a continuous learning program almost from scratch. Every effort is being made to provide a rich learning opportunity to our students, while also recognizing that this continuous learning does not replace the experience of a student engaging with the teacher and their peers in the classroom. I want to also recognize that you may be seeing, hearing or reading about local meal services, learning and technology plans in surrounding districts, or districts across the state and wondering about the differences between those districts and ours. Models for support during this time vary in our region, state and our nation. Specifically in Washington State, we operate under what State Superintendent Chris Reykdal describes as local control. Each of the 295 school districts in Washington, including ours, has its own collective bargaining agreements, school boards and superintendent responding to the current situation we are all facing. Some school districts in Washington State have twelve or more bargaining units and seven board members. In KSD we have nine employee groups, eight of them are represented by labor unions and we have five board members. This local control in our state is why we see different variations of support during this time. I can assure that what we are doing in KSD for our students and staff is working together collectively, not rushing to decisions, but taking the facts and information we have, including the guidance from state and federal authorities and we are working together to do our best to keep our KSD Community healthy and create a thoughtful and meaningful continued education experience through this closure for our students because they deserve nothing less. We are committed to being flexible and we look forward to welcoming back students to a clean, healthy and safe learning environment when the time is right. Until that time comes, we remain flexible, adaptive and in direct communication. We appreciate the time you take for the two-way communication, responding to surveys, emails, phone calls, sharing photos, volunteering, and letting us know what you need, what is working well and just checking in on our staff too. Please take care of yourselves and each other, and stay healthy. I will be in touch again soon. UPCOMING EVENTS KENT SCH OOL DISTRICT EQUITY - EXCELLENCE - COMMUNITY 22 Board Meeting APR

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EXCELLENCE COMMUNITY Stay Home. Stay Healthy. I am thankful for every member of our KSD Community who continues to rise to the occasion when it comes to prioritizing the nutrition, learning and safety of all students and staff across the district each day. Do: Don't: Stay home as much as possible. Go cut for essential needs, such as grocery or medical care. Get cutside, but avoid groups and stay six foct away from athers Call, e mail and connect online with friends and family. Gather in groups for any purpose, at home or outside. Buy more than you need when shopping. Seve some for your neighbors. I am also very thankful for the continued support and patience of our students, families, and community members as we continue to navigate this situation that not one of us has experienced before. Our schools are closed, events have been canceled, gatherings are limited, and employees are being asked to work from home. This is an effort to practice social or public distancing. While all these things may be an inconvenience to many, the tactic has been studied and proven effective in controlling the spread of COVID-19. It is not lost on me that this is a time of fear, anxiety and loss for many, however I also know that we have much to be thankful for. I am thankful for our volunteers, our staff, our families, friends, first responders, health care workers, and all essential workers. I am so incredibly thankful for all of those practicing social distancing and staying home when they are ill. Finally, beyond how thankful I am for all of this, I also remain hopeful as each day I see the kindness, optimism and support that is beginning to saturate our KSD Community. To help stop the spread of COVID-19, Governor Inslee has asked Washington residents to stay home. On April 2, 2020 Governor Inslee said there is discussion about the next step for schools. We anticipate a decision will be made soon about the remainder of the school year, many states in the country have closed schools for the remainder of the year to help slow the spread of COVID-19. We continue to be in communication with OSPI directly, as well as regional authorities and Superintendents across the state. What we know today for sure is Governor Inslee extended the Stay Home Stay Healthy Order, and this means All KSD schools and offices will remain closed until at least May 4. We also know that this is a decision the Governor can make and would announce via public press conference. That is why I invite you to celebrate #KSDThankfulThursday with us. Each Thursday this month in April on #KSDThankfulThursday we can reach out and say thank you through a phone call or email or we can share on social media what we are thankful for. We will continue providing information and updates, and I will also be sharing a new video each #KSDThankfulThursday this month about what I am thankful for. You might have questions about what that means. Please visit coronavirus.wa.gov for more information, our website www.kent.k12.wa.us/ closure for additional resources. #KSDThankfulThursday EQUITY Though our secondary students were able to take their laptops home on our last day of classes or come back to the building and pick them elementary students may need a device in their home, as well as internet access, while some students and families have enjoyed the reduction of screen time the last few weeks. We are committed to ensuring equity of access to technology for all KSD students and would like you to complete this short survey (bit.ly/KSDHomeTech) which asks questions about your household computer and internet access as well as support needed for continued learning at home. If you request additional information about access to technology, you will be asked to provide your contact information. We will begin deploying devices to those in need after spring break and are working to secure additional hotspots for families in need. We have been working through the safest way for families and our staff members to deploy devices to our families. We encourage any enrolled KSD family needing a device or support to complete the survey by April 10. couple of weeks ago, we know not all families have Wi-Fi. We also know our

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