Yesterday evening, Governor Jay Inslee announced an order for Washington residents to stay at home except for essential activities. As the governor said, now is a critically important time for all of us to realize that we can help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus by complying with his order to “Stay Home, Stay Healthy.”
The governor also has affirmed that schools play a vital role in getting communities through this crisis. Our schools provide essential services that support not only the daily nutritional needs of students, but also the ability of our healthcare system to fight this virus as we care for the children of people working on the front lines.
To that end, our Nutrition Services staff will continue to distribute grab-and-go meals for students at eight school sites this week and during spring break (March 30-April 3). Our Family-Community Resource Center coordinators will continue to reach out to families in need to help them access food provided by our community partners, and food pantries are continuing to operate around Vancouver. And, as Governor Inslee has mandated, starting March 30 we will offer free childcare services for healthcare workers, first responders, pharmacy workers and grocery store workers. To request child care, please contact Educational Service District 112 Child Care Resource and Referral at 360-952-3466.
In addition, as we informed you last Friday, VPS is developing a plan for online/remote learning that we intend to roll out after spring break. Instructional activities may be delivered to homes through digital technology tools, paper copies of learning packets or a combination of both. Your student’s principal will be sending a letter later this week with more details.
We are committed to doing our very best to educate students during this statewide school closure, while recognizing that the COVID-19 crisis continues to evolve. It could affect our staff and community in ways that we cannot anticipate fully, so we need to remain vigilant and flexible with our plans.
Most importantly, we need to take care of ourselves and our loved ones during this increasingly difficult time. Following the physical distancing guidelines doesn’t mean that we must lose our social connections, which are vital to everyone’s health. I encourage you to reach out to students, families, friends and neighbors often to ensure that they are doing alright and not feeling alone.
Please consider donating food or money to the Clark County Food Bank. The food bank provides VPS with food for students and families as well as many other Clark County partners and organizations. Donations also can be made to the Foundation for Vancouver Public Schools, which supports our students’ basic needs.
Thank you for all you are doing and will continue to do to keep yourself safe and our community strong. Students and families are depending on us like never before, and we will be there for them.
Steve Webb, Ed.D.