Return to Headlines

Feb 18, 2022 Superintendent's Update

February 18, 2022

For the last two years San Juan Island Schools has maintained a commitment to following the guidelines outlined by the state Department of Health. Our primary objective has been to ensure that all schools remain open.  Throughout the 2021-22 school year and particularly during the latest Omicron surge, we admittedly have not been an entirely COVID free environment. However, the dedicated health team in the San Juan Island School District has worked diligently to limit exposure and contain viral spread so that our doors could remain open to all students.

On February 17, in a press conference, Governor Inslee proclaimed that the mask mandates in Washington schools and other public places would be lifted on March 21. This is a breath of fresh air.  State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal has relayed that new school guidance would be provided to us before the order goes into effect. We all hope that our current COVID numbers on San Juan Island will mimic the state decline over the next five weeks. Until then, all mitigating measures, including masks, will remain in place.

Safety has always been our top priority. The objective of our school district is to provide a meaningful, rigorous, and purpose driven education. The pandemic impacted the district’s ability to deliver on this objective. I have no doubt that as the pandemic shifts to an endemic, our schools will improve socially, emotionally, and educationally.

Just before the Governor’s announcement, our community demonstrated strong support for our schools through a 70% “yes vote” on the EPO Levy renewal. The issues around state mandates have caused divisions in many communities. Everyone has the right to express their belief. This is a time-honored practice of being American. What is impressive is that people on San Juan Island have remained civil even when we disagree. Proof of this civility is collectively voting yes for a levy renewal to continue the quality public education needed and expected in our own community. We cannot thank you enough for this support.

Even during a pandemic, there is still much to celebrate in our schools. Two of our art students were recognized for excellence in a national competition. The Middle School play performance was great as was the Band concert. Band students also competed at the solo ensemble very successfully. The Hiking Club is set to travel to the Grand Canyon for their annual hike in April. Winter sports completed their season with pride. Kindness Week was a big success among the elementary students. Much more could be highlighted, but my point is that the schools have worked hard to offer as much opportunity to students as possible, even with state mandated restrictions, limitations, and accommodations.

As we move into the mid-winter break, we can look forward to what the spring brings. Although the only constant during the pandemic has been change, we are prepared and looking forward to this one! Something I can promise you is that we will continue to work hard to keep schools safe and focused on the primary objective of offering a first-class education to all students.

Once more, I am grateful for your support during this unprecedented and difficult time for our students and families.

Fred Woods