Good Afternoon Meridian Families, Students, and Staff.

I want to update you all about our effort to deliver food to children, how we are supporting our families in those essential services (healthcare & first responders) with a need for childcare, and provide educational activities to all of our students. I am also going to plea for your help so we can better serve all of our students.

It is important for me to share the number of positive messages, emails and posts recognizing the great work of our district employees is greatly appreciated. I have no doubt you are tired of hearing how fast things are moving and how unprecedented this all is, but here we are. It’s become commonplace to have guidance from our government and support agencies shift from one day to the next – and even multiple times a day. I want to assure you we are doing the very best we can with what we know at this time. AND – we are learning a ton each and every day. Your continued grace and patience are also appreciated. Thank you.

Delivering Meals
Early on we committed to serving our children meals – and have shared or delivered both lunch and breakfast daily since Monday, March 16th. The total number of meals provided to date is 2,966! We may see this shift to a new delivery model where we deliver multiple days of meals a couple of times a week. More will be shared about this in the next day or so. I also want to put out this request: If you are aware of a child up to 18 years old that needs food, please call my cell phone: 360-319-5814 or email me at jeverett@meridian.wednet.edu.

Child Care
Meridian School District is a member of what has become the Whatcom Unified Childcare Coalition, consisting of several school districts, community childcare facilities, Peace Health, and several other entities. This is a coordinated effort to ensure our entire county has a presence to respond to Governor Inslee’s request to provide childcare support for our healthcare and first responder families who have that need. For all families with child care needs, it is recommended they contact the Child Care Aware Family Center, as they will have the most up to date information on who has openings.

Child Care Aware Family Center, 1-800-446-1114

https://childcareawarewa.secure.force.com/providerupdate/CCAWAOnlineLookUp

Our partnership with the Whatcom Unified Childcare Coalition is going to involve Irene Reither Elementary hosting one of the YMCA child care sites to help healthcare and first responder families. Our nurses and some of our employees will support the staffing of this site and provide an important option for these families. It appears the need is slowly increasing as families see this need lasting for a prolonged period of time – which is also a national trend. We will be ready to provide this support for our families.

Educational Activity Packets
I messaged Monday evening we attempted to deliver over 1500 printed educational activity packets for all of our students. By the time Governor Inslee issued his Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, we had delivered a little over 80% of those activity packets. Given the order and a desire to get those packets to our students, they were mailed out today. Our approach has been to follow the guidance from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), our governing agency, much of which was to honor the accessibility and equity of our students when preparing content and engaging students.

We learned quite a bit in our first development, collection, printing, and delivery of those educational activity packets. There were some issues along the way and we now know more than we did. Again, thank you for your patience as we improve this work. We also have new guidelines for shifting our focus. Previously, we have emphasized the review and practice of content already learned this year. Our new guidelines from OSPI this week are to forge forward with new content and providing feedback. We are working on how to do this where we don’t completely revamp what processes we have initiated, make some adjustments and still hold access and equity as important filters for our work. Our teachers are incredibly creative, driven, and passionate. Our commitment is to provide this support, but these guidelines increase the complexity. We are using this week and next to refine our process and determine how we can do this work together.

Ensure Skyward Accuracy
You can help us reach you. Our Technology Director, Joe O’Brien, shared a family communication survey Sunday evening through Skyward. We have approximately 40% of our families who have responded. There are a number of you who have expressed frustration with the tool – either because Skyward is not a tool often utilized or because the survey wasn’t able to function on a phone. Hearing this, we had several of our staff reach out to those of you who have not responded to the survey to help complete this task. This will continue on Thursday, as well. In short, the more complete our Skyward data is with contact information, the more effectively we can distribute these activities. If you have not done so, please respond to the survey on a computer through Skyward Family Access. Thank you.

What’s Next
For this week, our teachers were asked to reach out to their students and prepare another set of educational activity packets with more practice and review materials. They will be submitted to our distribution team Thursday morning. Families can expect to see these materials get sent out through Skyward between Friday and mid-morning Monday. From the feedback in the survey, those who indicated they preferred to receive the activity packets via email, we will not be printing the packets. We will be printing packets for those who have not responded – and mail them to you by mid-morning Monday. There is a good chance families will receive the packets in print and through Skyward as we may not be able to reach every family as we try to understand what resources are available in each household. Please respond to the survey and/or check to ensure the information in Skyward is correct and up-to-date.

In addition to my updates, soon there will be some important links added to our website home page. We continue to be impressed with the complexity and opportunities this crisis holds for us. Things are continuing to change and we are continuing to shift and adapt. What was true a few days ago may not be so now. Know our district – each and every one of us – is committed to supporting your children and your families as this moves forward.

I hope you enjoy your evening. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions.

Thank you,

James

Dr. James Everett