March 13, 2020
Dear Harrington School Staff, Parents and Community,
Earlier this morning the school district superintendents and other school leaders in our region met together to discuss a variety of issues related to COVID-19 and its impact in our state, nation and the world. We also, of course, discussed its impact on, and implications for, K-12 education in Washington state.
As you are well aware, earlier this week our Governor, Jay Inslee, announced a proclamation that required the closure of all school districts in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties – to take effect as of midnight on Monday, March 16 and continuing through at least midnight on Friday, April 24.
Quickly on the heels of that proclamation, school districts in numerous other counties in the state (Skagit, Whatcom, Clark, Thurston) reached the same decision to close. These decisions are made out of an abundance of caution, and are based on scientific recommendations that indicate the reduction of social interactions - or said another way, increasing social distancing - can ultimately have a beneficial impact on slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
During the time the superintendents and leaders were together, we had communication with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and, through OSPI, with the Governor's office. With the number of counties in which school districts are now set to close - which, combined, include almost 70% of Washington's K-12 enrollment - the Governor is being pressured to do what a neighboring state has done, which is to close ALL school districts in the state.
As I share this with you at this time, I do not have specific details as to when that decision might be finalized nor when it will go into effect, but you deserve to be aware of this strong possibility. When and if our school district is required to close (the authority to make such broad decisions rests with both the Governor's emergency powers and with the local regional health district), we will work closely with all of you as we chart a path forward.
As superintendents, we did request that we be given some amount of lead time to prepare for an extended closure, and we are committed to working together to the extent possible to determine how we can best attend to the nutritional needs of students; to child care needs for students and families who will need that; and whether we will be able to provide any continued educational opportunities in a way that is equitable for all the students and families we serve.
As COVID-19 evolves, it affects all of us. We are all learning about it, and we appreciate that we all come together to do that in collaborative and respectful ways - respecting that disruptions that may occur in the short term will have a beneficial effect in the longer term – for everyone. I will assuredly keep you updated with all relevant information and, while I recognize that many questions will occur, we are committed to addressing each of those to the best of our ability and resources.
In advance, thank you for always giving one another grace - and especially for doing so during an unprecedented challenge such as this public health issue.
Superintendent Harrington School District