Dear Meridian Students, Staff and Families,

I met with local health and emergency management officials Tuesday as part of our planning and response efforts. Below is information you may find helpful.

Please keep in mind we still have no confirmed cases in Whatcom County, and health officials recommend the simple steps of keeping sick children home and washing/sanitizing hands often as highly effective prevention measures. Our schools remain open, and we are making all efforts to keep our students’ learning environments healthy.

We are committed to keeping you informed. As soon as new information becomes available, we will let you know. In the meantime, please read through the information below for our most up-to-date information for families.

State and county health officials are monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely and communicating with our health and safety staff. Health agencies will provide recommendations to school districts as needed.

What Meridian School District is doing:

We are working closely with health authorities including the Whatcom County Health Department, Washington State Department of Health, and the Center for Disease Control.Per recommendations, we are following standard cleaning and disinfecting procedures. Common contact surfaces, sinks, kitchens, restrooms and windows are cleaned regularly. Students and staff are being reminded to wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or to use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol if hand washing isn’t possible. We will continue to take precautions, monitor schools, follow the recommendations of the local and state departments of health and make adjustments as needed.

What parents can do:

  • Make sure that you have provided up-to-date contact information through Skyward Family Access so that you can receive updates.
  • Keep sick children at home as appropriate after notifying the school.
  • There are no advised restrictions for healthy children.
  • Encourage your children to practice good hand-washing.
  • Make a plan for childcare in the event that health officials direct schools to be closed to minimize the spread of the disease.
  • Talk with your children to help minimize fear.

Will field trips be canceled? Health officials have set no travel restrictions. At present, we are approving all local travel and field trips that have already been planned but also respect the decisions of coaches and advisers to cancel trips based on added context. We will work with advisers to assess each event on a case-by-case basis.

Will schools be closed? Health officials do not recommend closures at this time. However, if there were to be closures, the most recent information from the state superintendent is that any closures due to communicable disease will be handled like a snowstorm, where we would close schools and apply for waivers as needed/available.

Is distance learning an option if schools were closed? The state superintendent of public instruction has provided guidance to districts on this matter, and at this time we are not considering distance learning in lieu of normal school operations.

What are the facts about coronavirus (COVID-19)?

  • The Washington State Health Department FAQ
  • The Whatcom County Health Department FAQ
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Info Page
  • CDC page In Spanish
  • It’s important to know the facts. There are no confirmed cases in Whatcom County; the health department will notify the public if/when this changes.
  • Please remember that the risk of COVID-19 is not at all connected with race, ethnicity or nationality. We all play a part in reducing stigma and discrimination associated with a disease outbreak. Please don’t make assumptions about someone’s health status based on their ethnicity, race or national origin. Viruses don’t discriminate and neither should we.
  • There is no evidence children are more susceptible to the virus; 98% of confirmed cases to date are adults.
  • The universal precautions for reducing the risk of any viral respiratory infection include frequent hand washing, covering coughs or sneezes, staying up to date on immunizations, and staying home from work or school when feeling ill. No additional precautions for this virus have been recommended by health officials.
  • We encourage all families to confer with their health care providers for specific medical advice or questions as needed.

What plans does Meridian School District have in place in case of an outbreak of a communicable disease?

  • We rely on the direction of regional health experts for sharing communications relating to communicable disease outbreaks. We work with agencies including the Whatcom County Health Department, Washington State Dept. of Health, and the Center for Disease Control, as well as the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • The district will work with health officials, if there are any response measures that would disrupt normal school operations.

Who can I contact if I have questions?

  • If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to school nurses or your building principal. Irene Reither Nurse: Cheryl Dennis, cdennis@meridian.wednet.edu, (360) 318-2176. Meridian Middle & High School Nurse: Amber Erdmann, aerdmann@meridian.wednet.edu, (360) 318-2289.
  • Please also take a moment to update your family’s communications preferences in Skyward Family Access so you will receive all communications from our schools and district in the way(s) you prefer.

Sincerely,

James Everett