Orca Splash -- Principal Newsletter

September 28, 2020

Dear SWES K-4 Families - I think about you all every day and the challenges you are facing as you juggle supporting your children's remote learning, your own work - and the tumultuous times we find ourselves in.  Our teachers are working in new ways, learning and growing as remote educators with one key focus - keeping learning engaging and meaningful for our students.  I am so grateful to each of them and to all of you.  It's not an easy time for any of us - but there are lessons and gifts coming to us as well.  I'm grateful to be on this journey with all of you - and our South Whidbey community.  Thank you for your support as we do our best - and for the wonderful gift of "covid grace" that I see being given daily!!  

Hybrid Plans:  On October 15th, our school district will be looking at the most current data and trends and making a decision regarding a hybrid return to school.  If a decision is made to return, families will be surveyed to determine whether they will choose to remain in a remote program (SWAP or our regular remote learning program) or return to school in person.  If we return, our most likely scenario is that we will have two cohorts in each class - so half of those students who return will either attend Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday - and engage in remote learning on the other three days.  This move to hybrid could entail a change in teacher/classroom placement.  This is because if a child's current teacher stays teaching fully remote (which at least one teacher at each grade level most likely will) - and that family chooses hybrid / partially in person, that child would be moved to another teacher at that grade level.  All families will have the option of staying with their current teacher - if the family is fine with the model that teacher will be teaching in (either fully remote or hybrid.)  SO much to think about!  We will communicate with you consistently and clearly as we move forward.

Family Support:  We are so fortunate to live in a community that provides SO many supports for our families! It may be the first time that your family could use some extra support - and it can be hard to reach out and ask for that help.  Just remember - sometimes it's our time to give and sometimes it's time to receive.  The Family Resource Center folks are amazing - and can help you find the specific support you need - whether it's school supplies, 
rain gear for your kids - or help finding rental or utilities help.  

You can reach out to them via their website: https://www.readinesstolearn.org/family-resource-center

School Farm: Our school farm is SO amazing!  If you haven't had a chance lately - check out their site for the most recent updates: https://whidbey school gardens.wordpress.com/  We have opportunities for families to volunteer together in safe, socially distanced ways - and you can learn more at this site. 

Social / Emotional Learning:  Our entire K-12 staff engaged in an excellent professional development training on 9/23 - focusing on ways that we can effectively support our students' social and emotional needs - while engaging in our distance learning academic classes.  Not surprisingly - the big takeaway from our training was that creating trusting and meaningful relationships between teachers and students is at the heart of effective social and emotional support and learning!  We are so fortunate to have teachers who truly "get it!" 

Assemblies: We are excited to plan a range of fun and interesting virtual assemblies for our students!  Our first assembly will be on October 29th at 1:00 pm. Look for further information in the coming weeks for login information and for more on the fun we have planned for our students!

Equity:  A key priority for our school district this year is on equity.  We are focusing on what equity in our schools truly looks like and how we can integrate those practices into our daily work. At South Whidbey Elementary School, we will be using children's literature as a key strategy to engage in important conversations around equity, justice and inclusion in ways that are developmentally appropriate for our children. We hope to identify funding to enhance our classroom libraries with books that will help our teachers to support this important work - as well as training for our teachers.  For those who are interested - here is a link to an article that our teacher leadership team is reading as a component of this work: https://www.urbanlibraries.org/blog/childrens-literature-opens-the-door-to-conversations-about-identity-race-and-equity  Our hope is that we will also engage in parent education programs to help families engage in these conversations at home as well.  One of my favorite quotes from this article states "Because reading with children is a cherished activity for adults and children and it is a key component of their literacy development, children’s literature is a powerful tool to discuss identity, race, injustice and equity. 

Gratitude!  We are incredibly fortunate to have the support of a wide range of community organizations and individuals!!  Recently, the amazing folks from Whidbey Westside Rotary have been giving of their time and talents to help with enhancing our school trails and a range of other projects to enhance our school! The South Whidbey Schools Foundation, as always, is helping us in a million and one ways!  Recently, they have funded grant requests from our kindergarten and 1st grade teaching teams for supplies and materials for their classes, and books to support our 4th grade native american studies.  The Whidbey Community Foundation provided the School's Foundation with a grant to support all of our K-6 teachers in purchasing supplies and resources to support remote teaching during Covid. In addition, an incredibly generous local family recently provided financial support for our place based/ environmental education programs.  Hanson's Building Supply recently contributed to our trail restoration project and Bayview Farm and Garden provided support plants to enhance our kindergarten outside program.  This is just a PARTIAL list of the amazing support our community has recently provided to our schools!! 

Skyward Health Forms: This message is only for families who have students attending In Person programs at South Whidbey School District at this time. This would include In Person kindergarten, garden classes and special services (speech etc). Beginning Monday, October 5th, families will need to log into Skyward Family Access and complete the “Wellness Screening” by 8:15 a.m. for each child that will attend class that day. This applies to students who ride the bus as well as parent drop-off. If you are unable to use the digital system, please contact your school’s office about a paper format. Link to Skyward Wellness Screening and directions:  https://sw.wednet.edu/fall_2020/health_attestation

Family Technology Support:  Big thanks to our technology team for setting up a "Family Tech Support" site on our school district website.  When you log onto the site, you will see the button for that support towards the bottom left of the home page:  https://sw.wednet.edu/

Coffee with the Principal:  Look for announcements coming in the next few weeks regarding start up of virtual monthly "Coffee with the Principal" meetings.  In the meantime, if there is anything you'd like to touch base about, please feel free to reach out to me via e-mail or phone.  Many thanks to one and all -

Susie Richards


South Whidbey Elementary School K-4

(pronouns: she/her)

srichards@sw.wednet.edu / (360) 221-4600


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