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Greetings Meridian Students, Families, and Staff,

This message is about re-opening schools this fall. As Meridian School District plans for different school scenarios, we are committed to doing whatever it takes to protect our community’s health and ensure that every child can achieve to their highest level. We are committed to working with our schools, educators, parents, and community partners to provide equitable support for every student’s success, with proven and responsive solutions during this dynamic time.

In mid-June, the state provided guidance (OSPI Guidance) to school districts about how to safely reopen schools in the fall. Since then we have been engaged in multiple state, district, and county conversations to better understand the guidelines, funding, and regulations to prepare options for our students and families as we quickly approach the Fall. Here are some things we want you to know:

We want students back in the classroom.

  • In-person relationships with teachers and friends are important for student success.
  • We know face to face classroom instruction and support. It’s where we want to be.
  • One of the models is to have everyone back in classrooms at the same time. However, this may not be attainable due to restrictions and requirements: yet, this is our GOAL. It may take time to get there.

Schools will look different than they did before the pandemic.

  • We are adjusting the way school works so that we can protect health and safety while working to provide the best possible environment for teaching and learning.
  • Classrooms and schedules will change to accommodate social distancing.
  • Students and staff will be asked to wear face coverings.
  • We will expect students to stay home at the first sign of any symptoms, including cough, fever, and shortness of breath.

We are preparing for several different instructional models.

  • The models being explored are face to face, a hybrid model, MP3 parent/teacher partnership, and, depending on the impact of the COVID-19 virus, teacher-led remote learning.
  • The most likely scenario is a “hybrid model,” where students are in classrooms some of the time, and learning remotely some of the time. This allows for continuous contact with teachers and provides for social distancing requirements to be met. It also limits potential contact if anyone were to test positive.
  • We are also preparing for the possibility that we may have to move everybody to remote learning quickly if our public health partners find a resurgence of infections. We know responsiveness will be important.

We want students back in the classroom, but we may have to use remote learning again.

  • We will work with families and communities to ensure an equitable approach and respond to students’ needs. We’ve learned a lot about how to deliver remote learning well, and we’ll continue to adjust and improve over time.
  • Nobody expects parents to take on the role of a classroom teacher. When we use remote learning, our teachers are still the skilled educators they have always been, and we are supporting them in bringing their skills online.
  • We know there are barriers to remote learning. We don’t have answers to issues of childcare and food security but are working with community groups to identify methods to support families.
  • We know there are gaps in equitable access to technology. We have made some progress and our goal is to have every student connected.

We will keep you updated as planning moves forward.

  • Back-to-School planning efforts will be ongoing throughout the summer and our strategies may be adjusted and refined as we head into the school year. Clear and transparent decision-making is a priority for us, and we will provide regular updates to make sure you have the latest information.
  • We will share more information and ask for specific feedback from families in a new survey. Hearing your plans for the Fall will help us prepare our educational and staffing models. The survey will be shared Thursday or Friday this week. As always, thank you for your continued engagement to help us develop our plans.

Thank you to our Meridian community for being a partner on this extraordinary journey. Without your goodwill, patience, and flexibility, none of our work at the district would be possible.

Thank you,

James