Superintendent's Blog

Information and updates from Dr. Vivanco, Superintendent of the Mount Vernon School District


Mon, 01/25/2021 - 08:56

Superintendent Update 01.25.21

Happy Monday,

As I’m sure you are already aware, our district finalized plans last week for next steps towards returning to school. You can find my letter from last Friday at this link. Last week, our school board met and continued the discussion on the district reopening plans. We had additional questions come in from our community, some of which were answered during the meeting but I would like to use this opportunity to provide some brief answers to you here. 

Have any other Directors had the chance to participate in Zoom calls like Director Ragusa? 

Yes, those are being scheduled soon. Board president, Larry Otos will be in a couple of classes as early as next week.

What are your plans to protect elementary school teachers who are being asked to supervise two different groups of students eating in their classrooms each day? 

Since the beginning of the school year, we’ve had over 450 students at school with our Plus services and we have been very diligent in following our health protocols. 

Will the district share the results of their parent surveys? How many of our parents responded to the surveys? How many want to send their students back right now?

We are finalizing our parent surveys and currently have responses from 96% of our K-1 families. Our goal is to get 100% participation. 18% of our K-1 families have elected to remain fully remote. 82% of our K-1 families have elected the hybrid/in-person option. At last count 28 families out of nearly 800 had not responded and school staff continue outreach to those families. 

When will we know if February 8th is an actual true date for K-1 to return to school? What 2 week time frame will they be using for case count? When will the next grades transition? 

A decision regarding the February 8 start date will be made during the week of Feb. 1. If K-1 begins on February 8, there will be a 3-week process prior to adding Grades 2-3. Given the current timeline, that would mean Grades 2-3 would commence March 1 and grades 5-6 would commence March 22. This assumes our community health data is conducive to adding students so those dates are tentative and decisions will be made as those dates near. 

How do you plan to help student's deal with the stress of potentially being exposed to COVID and/or infecting their families if we reopen schools?

Since the beginning of the school year, we’ve had over 450 students at school with our Plus services and we have been very diligent in following our health protocols. Our teachers have and will continue to focus on Social Emotional Learning as part of their daily interactions with students. In their presentation to the board this week, Mount Baker Middle School staff shared some innovative activities being practiced to address Social Emotional Learning. If you are interested in learning about what your child’s school is doing in that respective area please feel free to contact them directly. 

If you are advocating for teachers to get vaccines, should we wait to open schools until teachers can actually get them?

Since we do not have a specific date of when vaccines will be available for school staff, we continue to take measured steps with our reopening plans for hybrid learning. These decisions are based on data and guidance from the Department of Health among other resources. 

Are employees who work in Skagit but live in other counties eligible for the Skagit vaccines? 

Great question. I would assume so since access to vaccines are based according to Washington’s COVID-19 Vaccine Phases risk groups. I would recommend calling the health department to confirm. Click here for more Skagit County Public Health Dept. information. You can also check your eligibility here

How can families and community members get information about the number of COVID-19 cases in our schools?

Once we begin our hybrid learning model, We plan on having a data dashboard on our district website. 

Will the levy funds help to purchase more space: like portables for the high school?

Unfortunately, we are only able to use levy funds for educational programs and operations, and tech & security. As best described among my education colleagues, “levies are for learning, bonds are for buildings.” Here is a link for more information about Levies. 

The good news is, with the 2016 voter-approved bond, we have been able to add classroom space at the high school in the new admin building and with the remodel of Old Main happening now. You can take a virtual tour of the MVHS admin building here. Additionally, a construction update is included in the latest edition of Community Link, that can be expected in your mailbox any day. 

As we approach the tentative return date of February 8th, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that our plan is contingent on the health environment, including case numbers in our community. I can’t stress enough the importance of our community’s efforts to help reduce COVID-19 spread. In order to return on February 8, case counts should be at 350 or below, as measured over a 14 day period and per 100,000 people. Once again, I ask for your help in taking all the recommended precautions: continue social distancing and limit interactions with those outside your household, wear a face covering as recommended in certain settings, and practice good hygiene with hand washing.

Thank you,

Ismael Vivanco


Fri, 01/22/2021 - 16:04

Superintendent Update 01.22.21

Happy Friday,

To ensure we can provide accurate information, I will provide my weekly update on Monday, January 25th. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Have a great weekend!

 

Ismael Vivanco


Fri, 01/15/2021 - 11:51

Superintendent Update 01.15.21

Happy Friday! I hope this message finds you well and healthy. As you may already be aware, the district finalized its plans yesterday to begin providing an in-person hybrid learning model to our elementary students. This model will begin with our earliest learners, and gradually add additional grades over the weeks to follow. Please see my full letter found on our website or by clicking here.  As you will notice in the letter, If case counts are 350 or below, as measured over a 14 day period and per 100,000 people, we will begin hybrid services. It will be very critical for us all to continue avoiding social gatherings, social distancing, wearing masks, and washing hands, to reduce the spread of COVID 19. Assuming a positive health climate in our county, we will add additional elementary grades over the upcoming weeks.

The Mount Vernon School District has two levy renewal measures on the February 9th special election ballot. You can find information on the proposed levy renewals and a Q&A on our website at: mountvernonschools.org/2021Levies. 

Skagit County Public Health will begin Phase 1b vaccinations on January 26th at the county fairgrounds. This will affect its COVID-19 testing site hours, including a January 25th site closure to allow staff transitions. Please see their full press release here.  

Going into the weekend, I want to remind you that Monday, January 18, there will be no school and all district buildings will be closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Today, Dr. King would have turned 92. During his short life, he served as an activist and leader in the civil rights movement, among many other accomplishments. One of Dr. King's quotes seem fitting with respect to the challenges we have faced in 2020, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Wishing you a safe and healthy weekend.

Superintendent Vivanco


 


Fri, 01/08/2021 - 16:11

Superintendent Update 01.08.21

 

Happy new year! I hope you all had a safe and happy holiday season. As we make our return to the second half of the 2020-21 school year, the question about what learning for our students will look like continues to come in. As stated in my December 11 communication, our first priority will be to bring our youngest learners in as soon as our health environment and appropriate guidelines allow. 

This week, our school board met and discussed our reopening plans. We had additional questions come in from our community, some of which were answered during the meeting but I would like to provide those and some brief answers to you here. 

What would that look like for a dual language classroom?

Students will be in-person for half the day, and in remote learning for the other half, just like other schools. The two languages would be taught on alternating days. For additional information you may contact Madison Elementary at 360-428-6131. 

How long would we expect to wait after K-1 go back before addressing the next grades? ie: is there a month built in between grades/groups?

Other schools have waited anywhere from 2-4 weeks before adding other cohorts/classrooms.

If we reopen schools at metrics under 350, at what point would our schools return to distance learning?

Please see the DOH decision tree for learning model guidelines. (Page 8) 

With an am/pm model that puts the teacher at a lot more exposure. What happens when a student and or teacher tests positive? Are both the am/pm quarantined?

The district follows local health department guidance regarding “close contact” and quarantine. In collaboration with the health department, our nurses and staff would assess the situation before determining who would be quarantined.

I have tried to get into Skagit Academy and not had a response.

Skagit Academy can be reached by phone at 360-428-6206 or by emailing principal Joy Walton-Kawasaki at jwaltonkawasaki@mvsd320.org 

Is there any consideration being put forth about offering increased services over the summer after vaccinations are available? Would that help our enrollment numbers and budget?

We would love to provide increased services over the summer as finances allow us to do so. School districts do not receive funding to support summer school and attendance/enrollment at summer school does not generate any funds to school districts.

Where can the public find the strategic plan if interested?

The Board of Directors finalized the approval of the district strategic plan on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. You will be able to find the updated plan on the District website under publications and reports by mid January.

When the schools reopen, will our school board members spend the day in our classrooms to observe how the safety protocols are enforced? Will the school board also return to in person meetings?

When the schools reopen, the school board will resume their regularly scheduled visits. It is the district and school administrations responsibility to ensure safety protocols are enforced. The superintendent will report that to the board. School boards follow the Open Public Meetings Act Guidelines and proclamation by our Governor. Currently, in person meetings could occur on January 19, 2021 unless the proclamation is amended or extended. I understand they are having conversations about trying to align in-person meetings with schools reopening. 

 

As a reminder, our district welcomes questions from the public at any time. Those can be addressed to questions@mvsd320.org and the appropriate person will be happy to respond. 

As we continue moving towards our reopening plans, please look out for a parent survey coming to kindergarten and first grade parents in the coming week. We appreciate and value parent input as we consider next steps towards hybrid learning.

Please remember to continue to follow health and safety guidelines. 

Superintendent Vivanco


Tue, 12/29/2020 - 11:27

Superintendent Update 12.29.20

I hope you all are staying safe during this break. I want to provide you with a brief update. Since our last communication on December 11th, there has been an update on the Department of Health Decision Tree from the governor that remains in alignment with our reopening plan steps.  

As stated in previous communications, our priority remains to return our youngest learners next, beginning with Kindergarten and first grade students. This will be in a hybrid model that combines in-building learning time with remote learning time so that we can comply with the physical distancing requirements. We anticipate that the earliest we would begin a K-1 Hybrid would be at the semester break, which occurs on January 25. We will be communicating with parents and staff. We will be surveying our parents to determine their preference of am or pm in-person service or remain in remote learning. We will then need to build cohorts, bus routes and provide our teachers preparation time to move from remote to hybrid instruction. We will continue to monitor our county's health environment and move forward as appropriate. 

Our winter edition of Community Link will be out mid-January where you will find additional information on the district's future learning plans. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the rest of the holiday break. Wishing you all a Happy New Year! 

Superintendent Vivanco

___________________________________

Espero que todos estén manteniéndose seguros durante este receso. Quiero proporcionarles una breve actualización. Desde nuestra última comunicación el 11 de diciembre, ha habido una actualización al Árbol de Decisiones del Departamento de Salud por el gobernador que se mantiene en alineación con nuestro plan de pasos de reapertura.

Como se había declarado en comunicaciones previas, nuestra prioridad sigue siendo regresar a los estudiantes más jóvenes próximamente, empezando con los estudiantes de kínder y primer grado. Este será un modelo híbrido que combina aprendizaje en las instalaciones con aprendizaje remoto para poder cumplir con los requisitos de distanciamiento físico. Anticipamos que lo más pronto que empezaremos el Modelo Híbrido K-1 sería en el receso de semestre, que ocurrirá el 25 de enero. Nos comunicaremos con los padres y el personal. Estaremos encuestando a nuestros padres para determinar sus preferencias de servicios en persona de turno de mañana o tarde o si permanecerán en aprendizaje remoto. Entonces necesitaremos formar los cohortes, rutas de autobús y proporcionar a nuestros maestros tiempo para prepararse a cambiar de instrucción remota a hibrida. Continuaremos monitoreando el entorno de salud de nuestro condado y proceder apropiadamente.

Nuestro boletín Community Link, edición de invierno, será publicado a mediados de enero donde encontrará información adicional sobre los planes de aprendizaje del distrito. Mientras tanto, espero que disfruten el resto de sus vacaciones. ¡Les deseo a todos un feliz año nuevo!

Superintendente Vivanco