COVID-19 Archived Updates

  • April 24, 2020

    The MISD Continuity of Learning Plan is broken into three primary sections: 

    • Teaching and learning: supporting our students;
    • Parents as partners: supporting our parents and families; and
    • Continuous improvement: supporting our educators.

    Each section contains information to assist all stakeholders in rising to the challenge of the COVID-19 school closure. Together, we can all contribute, work as a team, and move our students forward to the best of our ability.

    This document is not static. Each day and week we learn new and innovative ways to offer continuous learning beyond the walls of a classroom. We also receive guidance from local, state, and national officials about the parameters of our practices. This continuity of learning plan will be dynamic and changing, a reflection of the spirit we have all had since the earliest moments of the COVID-19 outbreak in Washington.

    MISD Continuity of Learning Plan

     

    April 21, 2020

    Frequently Asked Questions: Continuous Learning During School Closure

    These questions and answers linked above were generated based on inquiries gathered through April 15 in collaboration with the PTA units at each school and the Mercer Island PTA Council. As a learning organization, Mercer Island District continues to use feedback provided at the classroom, school and district level to adjust and improve. Answers to these questions are dynamic and will evolve as our staff and system finds new and different ways to better meet the needs of our students. We ask our community to continue to offer feedback that allows us to build on successes and address shortcomings. We want to thank our PTA council and site leaders for their continued support of our students and collaborative efforts with our schools. 

    April 10, 2020

    Message from Superintendent Donna Colosky

    Please watch as Superintendent Colosky gives an update to the community about the District's work to move learning forward beginning April 13. 

     

    April 6, 2020

    Dear MISD families and community:

    Today, Governor Inslee announced that all K-12 school facilities will be closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. By doing so, the Governor hopes to slow the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus and flatten the curve. As a result, all District’s school sites will remain closed through the remainder of the 2019- 2020 academic year; however, our District is as committed as ever to student learning and will continue the educational process through June 19. 

    The abrupt and prolonged end to the traditional academic year is difficult on students, staff, families and the entire Island community. We know that our students will be disappointed and are missing friends and the structure of school. There will be many questions about next steps and events that normally happen in spring. Our administrators, teachers, support staff, and parent organizations are working to find solutions. 

    Students remain our priority and we want to reassure them that we are still moving forward with learning for all students on Monday, April 13. Our teachers are excited to continue to work with our students and engage in the teaching and learning process. We are committed to partnering with our families to support our students’ learning while they are at home and do not take for granted the investment Mercer Island parents have in their child’s academic, social, and emotional well being. 

    We will answer questions about alternative plans for events like graduation, etc. as we learn more and decisions are made. We continue to commit to regular and consistent updates for our students, families, and community in the coming weeks and months ahead. 

    Below are details known to date:

    Continuous Learning 

    Beginning April 13, 2020, the District will begin providing curriculum-based remote learning that moves all students along the learning continuum. Remote learning will continue for the duration of the year. Students and families should expect regular communication from teachers. We thank all of our families for supporting our students as they engage in this new learning process. For more information about the District’s plan to provide ongoing learning during this prolonged building closure, please click here

    Class of 2020

    Since the first days of the school closure, our MIHS administrators, counselors, teachers, and others have been committed to supporting our seniors. Our goal is to help each senior graduate on time and launch into their next endeavor. We are calling on our 2020 graduates to dig deep and keep focused on finishing strong.

    We do not know what the commencement ceremony or traditional senior events will look like, but please know that the MIHS team is exploring options and will continue to seek alternatives to commemorate such a special event.

    Grades and Academic Accountability

    Monday, April 13, will mark the beginning of the next chapter in our continuous learning model. Students will be expected to engage with their teachers, complete assignments, and actively participate.

    Our K-8 teachers will be monitoring student progress and providing feedback to students. The third trimester progress reporting details are currently being reviewed. Students will move to the next grade level. Please know that where teachers and students start the 2020-2021 academic year will be different than a typical year. What will not be different is the use of student data to drive our instructional decisions.

    Grading for our 9-12 classes and those middle school classes in which students earn high school credit is still being contemplated. We are working with OSPI, surrounding districts and reaching out to higher education as we consider all the possibilities on how to best meet the needs of students.

    Some of the variables our District is discussing include but are not limited to: the academic experience in this new learning environment; student motivation to learn; in-and-out-of state college and university communication about admissions; and NCAA implications for seniors hoping to compete athletically next fall. We know the decisions we make will impact more than just the 2020 graduates.

    Attendance

    All families will be notified after Spring Break how student attendance will be counted in this distance learning model through the remainder of the school year. Our schools and teachers will follow the previously published school schedule, which includes the use of the weather make-up day on May 22.  

    Summer School

    OSPI indicated today that further guidance about summer school is forthcoming. We are planning for a variety of options. 
    Additional information regarding summer school will be available on our District website as details are confirmed. 
    We will prioritize options for students needing credit retrieval and extra support to close an opportunity gap.

    Nutrition

    We will continue to provide lunches to all children on Mercer Island at two locations: Islander Middle School and Mercer Island High School, Monday through Friday, preorder here.

    Please, stay home and stay healthy.

    Sincerely,
    Donna Colosky
    Superintendent

    March 30, 2020

    Dear MISD Families, 

    I’m writing to update you on our still-evolving plan to move student learning forward during this mandated closure. 

    As reported in our communications last week, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) recently provided school districts with updated guidance regarding teaching and learning supports and meeting class of 2020 graduation requirements. These new expectations call for districts to plan for continuous learning on a weekly basis, deliver flexible instruction, assess for student learning, and make instructional adjustments.

    Our District’s Learning Services teams, principals, teachers and coaches have been working together to plan for how we will continue student learning during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Keeping students as the priority, our teachers have and will continue to consider the social and emotional needs of our students and families. 

    This means teachers will be trying to help students make connections with each other and will not be creating a system where students spend hours a day in front of their computers. Our teachers will be looking at how learning in this environment can be equitably achieved.  We ask for patience and grace as we work to support all students through distance learning. 

    The District and the Mercer Island Education Association have partnered to create the below plans for continuous learning through the extended school closure.

    March 30, 2020 - April 3, 2020 

    Elementary:

    • The elementary schools will provide optional comprehensive learning schedules for each grade level (please see the K-5 Weekly Learning Plans page). Daily options will span:
    • Language Arts • Math • Science
    • Spanish • P.E. • Social Studies
    • Social/Emotional • Music • Art

    These daily schedules will involve online and offline activities. The District remains committed to the whole child and wants to emphasize the importance of managing screen time.

    • Resource Packets- Families who would prefer to access the weekly learning plans as paper packets instead of online please follow this process:
      • Week of March 30 to April 3
      • Week of April 13 to April 17
      • Pick up Process
        • Please pick up packets from the Central Administrative Office (4160 86th Ave SE)
        • Place a piece of paper with the grade and quantity you are requesting on the passenger side dashboard for our team to see and deliver without you needing to get out of your car. For example, a family needing two first grade packets and one fifth grade packet would write: 
          • 1st Grade- 2
          • 5th Grade- 1
        • Please enter the parking lot on 86th Ave SE (Boys and Girls Club entrance) and NOT off of SE 42nd St. This will allow traffic to form in our parking lot and not on the road  
    • Staff will continue with family check-ins
    • Teachers will create “Dedicated Online Direct Connection/Support Time” (times of real-time online connection between students and their teachers) schedules and communicating those with students/families.
    • Teachers will collaborate in teams with grade-level colleagues, specialists and coaches to create and prepare lessons, videos, and/or materials that revisit material taught before school closure and to prime students for new learning after Spring Break. These materials may be posted online for students to access during Spring Break when teachers are not working.
    • Teams will, among other things, be planning the first two-three weeks of new content that will move students along the learning continuum. This new content will be rolled out beginning April 13. 

    Islander Middle School:

    • IMS will create student updates and assigned learning tasks for the week. Please see the IMS Learning Plan page
    • Posts to Schoology will be made by each teacher based on department collaboration and discussion about essential learning. The teams will meet based on the following schedule, so students should get into the habit checking Schoology on a daily basis. 
      • Monday Special Education
      • Tuesday Language Arts, Social Studies, Math
      • Wednesday Check-in Day
      • Thursday Science
      • Friday Electives 
    • Teacher teams will meet to create and prepare lessons, videos, and/or materials that revisit material taught before school closure and to prime students for new learning after Spring Break. These materials may be posted online for students to access during spring break when teachers are not working.
    • Teachers will create  “Dedicated Online Direct Connection/Support Time” (e.g. open office hours) schedules and communicate it with students/families.
    • Teams will plan the first two-three weeks of new content that will move students along the learning continuum. This content will be rolled out beginning April 13.
    • The staff is in discussion about how grading and assessment will be handled in the 3rd trimester.  


    Mercer Island High School:

    • Teachers will be updating Schoology posts for courses with review and preview materials.
    • Students should review material previously taught and will see Schoology posts with specific details.
    • Staff will provide pre-learning activities and assignments to prepare students for future learning.
    • Teachers will create and prepare lessons, videos, and/or materials that revisit/review material taught before school closure and to prime students for new learning. This may be posted online for students to complete between March 30 and April 10. This will span the week before as well as the week of spring break.
    • Teachers will create online office hour schedules and communicate it with students/families.
    • Teachers/departments will be creating a plan for the first 2-3 weeks of new learning that will move students along the learning continuum. This new content will be rolled out beginning April 13.
    • The staff and district are in discussion about grading and assessments in the 4th quarter (second semester).  

    Spring Break: April 6 - April 10

    Mercer Island School District will follow our planned/calendared spring break. Students may continue to access resources posted on the following pages:

    • Elementary Learning Page
    • IMS Learning Plan page
    • Course Schoology sites

    April 13 and beyond

    • Teachers at all levels will begin moving all students along the learning continuum by providing students with new content/material and building skills. 
    • Teachers will maintain scheduled dedicated direct connection/support time (e.g. office hours), adjusting them as appropriate
    • Teachers will continue communicating with students/families.

    We are committed to communicate regularly with our families and community during this extended closure. Please continue to visit our website for updated COVID -19 information and resources.

    Sincerely,

    Donna Colosky
    Superintendent

    March 24, 2020

    Dear MISD Families and Community,

    Though our schools closed on March 13, our commitment to each of the nearly 4,500 learners has never wavered. From our oldest students in adult-transition to our youngest learners in kindergarten or early childhood and every grade in between, teachers, coaches, paraprofessionals, nurses, principals, and other staff have been making students the priority. I am writing today with several updates and continue to hope our families and community are staying well, as we all deal with this pandemic. 

    Since the March 13 closure MISD has followed the Governor mandates to:

    1. Nutrition: provide lunch daily to students who need them. We have provided a daily average of 150 meals to any children 0-18 who come to one of two sites. 
    2. Childcare: develop plans to be a childcare provider of last resort, in compliance with stringent health and safety regulations. Our eligible families have been notified and care will start Monday, March 30th. 
    3. Graduation: identify seniors in jeopardy of not graduating in June based on credit issues, testing shortfalls on SBA, or other potential barriers. Counselors, teachers and administrators are actively planning pathways to support these students in getting on track to graduate.
    4. Continuity of Learning: offer learning opportunities for students and continued professional learning for staff. 
    5. Staffing: continue payroll for all employees as we engage our staff in meaningful work with our students and professional development plans.

    Yesterday, Governor Inslee issued a statewide “Stay at Home, Stay Healthy" order

    What does this mean for MISD? 

    • All of our buildings are closed to the public. Only essential staff (custodians, administrators, etc.) are working in buildings. 
    • Our playgrounds, play structures, sports courts, tennis courts and Islander Stadium are closed to the public.
    • Our nutrition program continues to distribute weekday lunches to students at IMS and MIHS. 
    • Our childcare program for health care workers and first responders will begin soon.

    Last night, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction issued updated guidance regarding continued learning during the school closures. The guiding principles of that memo are threefold -- Keep Students at the Center, Design Learning for Equity and Access, and Assess Student Learning. The OSPI guidance suggests that districts progress through five (5) stages of planning to engage students and families in learning. The OSPI memo expects districts to begin the implementation of a multi-stage plan by March 30.

    Fortunately, our District’s Learning Services team, principals, and teacher leaders have been actively working since before the school closure to create a sustainable plan to move learning forward for Mercer Island students both in the near and far term. Even though learning is now being done differently, its value remains immeasurable for all students!

    District Student Learning Plan: Stage 1 (complete√ Created and launched plans to reach students with a wide variety of supplementary education resources.  

    • Elementary, middle and high school teams continue to add to these learning resources regularly. These resources include suggested schedules for your students. Please look them over and contact our technology teams if you need any help accessing any of the programs or if you are in need of technology resources. 
    • Honor student work previously completed prior to the school closure and provide feedback to learners. Elementary progress reports will be released on Friday, March 27 at 5 p.m. and IMS on Monday, March 30 at 10 a.m.
    • The state has created potential waivers for graduation requirements for the Class of 2020 and the State Board of Education is drafting rules for these waivers, which they plan to finalize by the end of April. The District’s Learning Services Team, school counselors, principals, and others have worked to determine how best to address the needs of our seniors through a variety of pathways. Individual students at risk have been identified and staff are reaching out to provide support.
    • Clarified next steps for AP testing. All 2020 AP exams will be administered electronically, allowing students to take exams at home in response to school closures related to the COVID 19 pandemic.  Specific details are listed on the College Board’s AP website here: https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/about-ap/news-changes/coronavirus-update. The College Board will offer free online AP exam study resources starting March 25th for all subjects: Click Here to learn more. All AP students will receive additional information about this year's exams on April 4th.

    District Learning Plan: Stage 2 (nearing completion)

    • This week, staff are re-engaging with the social-emotional needs of our students.
    • New social-emotional learning resources were added to the supplemental online resources pages.  
    • Educator workgroups are working remotely to discuss expectations and develop and prepare for continuity of learning. This work includes remote training and professional development for staff. 
    • Adjust plans to reach special populations of students such as, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, those who are medically fragile, or students experiencing homelessness.

    District Learning Plan: Stage 3 (in progress)

    • Review survey results and identify and fill gaps for families and educators. 
    • Schedule and hold building-level small group meetings with elementary, middle, and high school leaders.
    • Continue to build staff technology capacity. 
    • Continue to convene remotely to develop and prepare for continuity of learning. Train staff on technology as needed.

    District Learning Plan: Stage 4 (in progress)

    • Students receive videos or engage in virtual meetings (using platforms such as Seesaw (elementary) or Schoology (high school) with teachers. 
    • Development of a plan to deliver content in a flexible and adaptable way that is accessible for all students (e.g., printed learning materials, phone, email, videos, or other online means).  
    • Begin planning for using specialized certificated personnel to provide support for differentiated instruction and accessibility.

    District Learning Plan: Stage 5 (ongoing)

    • Continue and complete any Stage 1–4 tasks that remain.  
    • Answer new questions and problem solve.

    As outlined above, the District is actively engaged in varying stages of the work necessary to create a District Learning Plan that serves all students. We believe that an intentional and deliberate progression from teaching and learning in the classroom to teaching and learning remotely will be most beneficial for our students. 

    In working with our students, we are committed to making decisions looking through a lens of safety and equity. We will provide regular and consistent updates. We encourage our community to help our students navigate this new learning environment.  

    Thank you for supporting our students and staff through these challenging times. 

    Sincerely,

    Donna Colosky
    Superintendent

    March 20, 2020

    Dear MISD Families:

    After just one week of closure, I speak for the nearly 500 MISD staff when I say, we miss our students. The collaborative interactions between students, parents, and staff are what make working in this community truly special. While this has been disrupted by the school closure, our district is moving forward with new and innovative options to keep us united.

    In this first week since closing schools, we committed to the safety of our students and staff, providing lunches to those who desired this service, developing a childcare option for the heroes on the frontline of this epidemic, taking care of the staff, and the continued education of our students. We have heard from some community members that we are meeting expectations and others who feel there is more work to do. Thank you to everyone.

    Progress to date:

    • Roughly 150 students are being served lunch each day;
    • A childcare option for the kindergarten to 5th grade children of first responders and healthcare workers was developed and will launch next week;
    • Over 70 families now have access to technology or hotspots to keep students engaged;
    • The Mercer Island Education Association and Mercer Island School District reached an agreement on the new realities of working from a distance;
    • Educational resources were made available for all students and families to access; and
    • COVID-19 Work Groups, consisting of teachers, instructional coaches, administrators and others, formed to tackle the even bigger challenges ahead to deliver an education to our students in a non-traditional environment.    

    The array of online resources made available to our students this week was our first attempt to help families get started. Work groups dedicated to graduating our seniors in June, comprehensively developing learning options for students, exploring ways to meet the needs of all learners, and designing professional learning for staff are plowing the path forward. 

    Next week, families can expect another level of engagement between our schools and families. Examples of how staff may interact with students and families beginning next week may include, but are not limited to:

    • Emailing updates and ideas;
    • Releasing videos of instructional strategies to use at home;
    • Posting on teacher/classroom webpages or Schoology;
    • Meeting students or parents on video platforms such as Google Meet or Schoology;
    • Encouraging relearning missed or difficult content previously introduced;
    • Completing and posting grades on progress reports for 2nd trimester (IMS and Elementary);
    • Conducting scheduled IEP and 504 meetings;
    • Sharing strategies to reduce stress and anxiety; and
    • Simply checking in just to let our students know we care.

    Families have inquired and asked why we do not simply move to a complete online model whereby teachers deliver direct instruction to students via videoconferencing platforms. Districts who rushed into this decided to abandon plans, recognizing the challenges that must be overcome to make learning accessible to all. We are learning from them and collaborating with others both near and far. 

    MISD has chosen to take an intentional approach to meeting student needs, believing that we are likely just beginning a journey down a long road. We are not moving quickly enough for some, but I assure you that we have dedicated educators working in this district, putting in even more hours than in a typical March week, to build a model that meets our students’ needs, is inclusive of all, and can be sustained over time. 

    OSPI and the State Board of Education will provide guidance to districts in the upcoming days regarding graduation, plans for missed instructional days, and requirements we must meet to ensure our educational options are accessible and available to all. As more information and guidance is available, we will share with families. 

    Sincerely, 

    Donna Colosky
    Superintendent

     

    March 18, 2020

    Dear MISD Families and Community,

    Today on the fourth day of the school closure, the School Board held a special meeting and unanimously approved a resolution on the implementation of emergency actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch the video of the meeting on our YouTube channel.

    As part of the meeting, the administrative team updated the Board on the status of the five major priorities for districts as established by the Governor and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

    Here are the slides shared at today’s Board meeting

    Meals Program

    Our free meals for all children continues each day with pickup locations at Islander Middle School and Mercer Island High School, with about 150 served each day. Please share that this is for any child on the Island, not just MISD students. To order, use please this form.

    Childcare

    Our planning continues to begin childcare for school-age children (grades K-5) of health care workers and first responders. If you believe you qualify, please complete the registration form by 9 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, March 19.

    Graduation

    Our graduation work group of principals, teachers, counselors and administrators are meeting this week to consider all the factors to ensure our class of 2020 graduates on time this spring.

    District employees

    The District and the Mercer Island Education Association have been working collaboratively to address the changes in working conditions during this unprecedented closure.

    Teaching and Learning

    On Monday, the district published supplemental resources for all grade levels. If you need technology access and support, please contact our grade level tech support teams also listed on the resources page.

    Thursday I will be participating in a City of Mercer Island briefing to the community at 3 p.m., televised on channel 21 and streamed online on the city’s YouTube channel

    Sincerely, 

    Donna Colosky, Superintendent

    March 16, 2020

    Dear MISD Families and Community,

    Thank you for responding to both the survey on childcare and technology needs during the school closure. Our plan for providing meals for all children began today. I am pleased to report that our dedicated food services team served more than 150 meals to children on the Island. To order a meal, here is the order form.

    During the school closure, the District will be providing childcare services to healthcare workers and first responders. We are working in consultation with the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) and Public Health on the guidelines and parameters for providing these services. Tomorrow, please look for a message that will provide access to a form requesting childcare services for K-5 students.

    To ensure that all students have the technological means to access supplemental resources, families whose student(s) do not have a technology device or internet access may check-out an iPad and/or wifi hotspot. 

    Childcare Services/Technology Access Survey.

    Later tonight you will receive a separate message from our Principals and Learning Services Department with information about our supplemental educational resources to promote and extend learning during this unprecedented closure. The District continues to follow state guidance that districts should not offer a learning model unless it can be accessed equitably by ALL students. 

    Today, I participated in a phone conference with Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal, who identified the state’s current priorities for our schools as, in order: student nutrition, continued payment of school employees during the closure, providing childcare for first responders and health care workers, graduation for seniors, and enrichment learning opportunities for students.

    Please continue to stay safe. Public Health - Seattle and King County has issued these guidelines for gatherings of children and youth while schools are closed and OSPI has created a page for talking to your children about school closures and COVID-19.

    We will continue to keep our families updated throughout the closure via School Messenger, on the web at mercerislandschools.org/coronavirus, and on our social media channels.

    Sincerely,
    Donna Colosky, Superintendent

    March 13, 2020

    Dear MISD Families, 

    As you know, yesterday Gov. Inslee issued a proclamation mandating the closure of all K-12 schools in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties. Today, the Governor expanded that Proclamation to include all schools statewide. 

    During this mandated closure, school districts must:

    1. Provide nutrition services to children in the community;
    2. Provide childcare services for school-age children of healthcare providers and first responders; and 
    3. Support our seniors in meeting graduation credits and requirements. 

    The District is committed to providing consistent, updated information to our families during this time of closure. Below are some current updates: 

    Supplemental Resources: We will support students during our closure by offering supplemental educational resources familiar to our students. Currently, students are not required to access any resource made available by the District during the school closure. We will share more detailed information on what families can expect in this area next week. The District continues to follow guidance from OSPI that districts should not offer a learning model unless it can be accessed equitably by ALL students. 

    Technology: To ensure that all students have at least the technological means to access supplemental resources, families whose student(s) do not have a technology device or internet access will be able to check out an iPad and/or wifi hotspot. Please complete the survey under the Childcare Services Heading.   

    Childcare Services: During the school closure, the District will provide childcare services to healthcare workers and first responders free of charge. Please complete the following survey: Childcare Services/Technology Access Survey.

    Testing: This Spring’s Mandatory statewide testing has been suspended.

    Food Services: Beginning Monday, March 16, the District will be providing lunches to youth in our community. Families can pre-order lunch free-of-charge for children ages 0-18. For additional information and to pre-order, please complete the Meal Order Form

    Stay Safe: We encourage our families to continue to abide by the guidelines provided by our public health officials, including social distancing and other measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. Public Health - Seattle and King County issued updated information for the community during this school closure

    We are so grateful for your patience and understanding as we continue to work through this difficult situation. We will get through this challenge together as a unified Island community.

    Sincerely,
    Donna Colosky
    Superintendent

     

    March 11, 2020


    Dear Mercer Island School District Community,

    The Mercer Island School District has been following guidance from Public Health in an effort to stay open as long as possible. Today, Gov. Jay Inslee announced new community strategies to minimize COVID-19 exposure. Specifically, the Governor has prohibited non-essential events with more than 250 people that take place in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties. This order applies to gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational activities. Governor Inslee explicitly stated that this guidance did not include schools at this time.

    Several of our neighboring districts are struggling to stay operational because of staffing shortages and so have made the difficult decision to close this week. Many of our staff have children who attend schools in those districts, and we expect those closures to impact our ability to staff our schools.

    Tomorrow, Thursday, March 12, will be a regular school day. Given the concern that we will be unable to adequately staff our schools after the closure of our neighboring school districts, we will be closing all MISD schools to students beginning Friday, March 13. Tomorrow, Thursday, March 12, students should collect and bring home learning materials that they might need as well as any personal items they might want while schools are closed.

    Based on recent conversations with OSPI and the Governor’s office, the duration of this closure is uncertain but could extend for five to six weeks. We will keep you informed as we learn more from Public Health and government leaders about the COVID-19 outbreak and as we evaluate our ability to safely reopen our schools.

    The community can expect ongoing communication from the District during this closure. The District office will remain open to the public.

    Food Service lunches will be available to all students, especially those students receiving meal assistance, throughout the remainder of the school closure. Information on how to access this resource will be posted later today. 

    We are not currently planning to replace or supplant core instruction with online learning but rather will provide supplemental activities that are designed to provide students and parents with opportunities to extend learning beyond the classroom. More information about these supplemental learning opportunities will be shared in the coming days. 

    I am so very proud and appreciative of our staff and their continued support of our students through coming to school and providing teaching and learning during this unsettled time. They have shown themselves to be leaders and have embodied our vision that here, at MISD, Students are the Priority!

    I want to assure you that the decision to close our schools is not one I have made lightly or without considerable thought and consideration. As a superintendent, I regularly make challenging decisions and this has been one of the most difficult in my career. I recognize and understand the impact this will have on our families, particularly those who are most vulnerable.

    We are grateful to our community for its ongoing support of the District’s commitment to student learning. Continue to watch for updates as needed via the School Messenger system and online at mercerislandschools.org/coronavirus. 

    Sincerely,

    Donna Colosky
    Superintendent

    March 9, 2020

    Dear Mercer Island School District Community,

    Today, I want to answer a few of the most frequently asked questions about our District’s response to the evolving COVID-19 risk in our region. I also want to thank the PTAs and families at several schools that created a special Custodial Appreciation Day for our Maintenance and Operations staff that have been working extra hours to clean and disinfect our schools. This recognition of our dedicated staff was well received and appreciated by all. 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    The District has created a resource page which provides information the District has gathered on the COVID-19 risk. The following are some frequently asked questions (FAQ). 

    Will MISD schools close?

    Public Health - Seattle and King County officials continue to make it clear that, in the absence of a confirmed COVID-19 case, it is recommended that schools remain open. We are and will continue to follow the guidance of the health authorities. 

    Our Administration team participates in frequent conference calls with other regional superintendents, OSPI, and Public Health officials from both King and Pierce counties. 

    We recognize some families may be choosing to keep their children home. Those absences will be excused.

    What will the District do if there is an extended school closure?

    The District is preparing ways to supplement student learning and support families at home should there be an extended school closure. 

    We have been intentional about creating remote learning resources that will be easily accessible, practical and consistently available. To this end, we are taking advantage of existing digital tools that are familiar to District students, families and staff.

    In the event of a long term closure, learning resources will be available for each grade level. Our goal is to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that all our students and families have access to learning opportunities that can be successfully completed at home.

    We are currently organizing these resources and providing guidance for teachers about making them available.

    These resources are not intended to be a replacement for the high-quality instruction that occurs in our classrooms each day, and these learning activities will not be graded. When students return to school, our teachers will continue to build on the learning that was occurring prior to absences or closures.

    How long will afternoon and evening events and activities be cancelled or postponed?

    At this point in time, the District is postponing and/or cancelling all activities or events through March 22, 2020. This decision will be reevaluated closer to March 22. Until further notice, off-Island field trips are postponed or cancelled.

    The Mercer Island Fine Arts Advisory Council has cancelled its visual and performing arts Showcase, previously scheduled for March 24 and 25. 

    In collaboration with other KingCo districts, The District is suspending MIHS athletic competitions until March 22. We will continue to monitor the situation and make changes as needed, again taking our guidance from public health authorities.

    Thirty (30) minutes following afternoon dismissal, each District school building is closed to all activities, events, and staff. This allows our custodial crews ample time to clean and disinfect the buildings each evening. This cancellation excludes before and after school care at each school (KidsCo) as well as outdoor athletic practices. 

    Buildings will be closed on weekends. 

    How is Mercer Island School District helping students protect themselves and each other from the potential spread of COVID-19 and other viruses?

    As indicated above, the District is extensively cleaning and disinfecting every school site daily. Each of the past two weekends, custodial crews have gone through each building to disinfect and clean the buildings beyond what is done each night. 

    Buses are disinfected after each trip.

    Staff are reminding students of universal precautions including hand washing and avoiding touching the face, eyes, and mouth. Students have been reminded on how to wash hands and staff will continue to provide time for students to wash their hands as needed. Hand sanitizer is available in all classrooms and community areas. 

    The District has shared recommended guidelines as to when to keep students home from school.  

    The District has cancelled/postponed events that would take our students on field trips to large public settings off-Island. The District has temporarily suspended athletic competitions.

    We are grateful to our community for its ongoing support of the District’s commitment to student learning. Continue to watch for updates as needed via the School Messenger system and online at mercerislandschools.org/coronavirus

    Sincerely,

    Donna Colosky
    Superintendent

    March 6, 2020

    Dear Mercer Island School District Community,

    Thank you for your patience and support as we have dealt with the evolving situation regarding the COVID-19 risk in our region. I express my deepest appreciation to our dedicated staff who have worked tirelessly to keep our students safe while continuing to provide our Mercer Island high-quality education. 

    Students remain our priority and at the center of our decisions. Again today, the director of Public Health - Seattle and King County made it clear in her remarks that they are continuing to recommend that schools remain open. We are following that guidance until it changes. We recognize some families may choose to keep their children home; we will respect those decisions and excuse those absences.

    The District is continuing to prepare for ways we can supplement learning for our students and support families at home should there be an extended school closure. 

    As we announced on Thursday, each of our school buildings will be closed 30 minutes following afternoon dismissal to allow our custodial crews ample time to clean and disinfect the buildings each evening. Buildings will be closed on weekends. 

    In addition, as announced Thursday, the District is cancelling all off-Island school field trips and all after-school, evening and weekend activities at the schools. This cancellation excludes before and after school care at each school (KidsCo) as well as outdoor athletic practices. In collaboration with other KingCo districts, we are suspending MIHS athletic competitions until March 22. We will continue to monitor the situation and make changes as needed, again taking our guidance from public health authorities.

    We are grateful to our community for its ongoing support of the District’s commitment to student learning. Continue to watch for updates as needed via the School Messenger system and online at mercerislandschools.org/coronavirus

    One last reminder, daylight saving time begins this Sunday, March 8; remember to turn your clocks ahead one hour.

    Sincerely,

    Donna Colosky
    Superintendent

    March 5, 2020

    Dear Mercer Island School District Community,

    Thank you for your continued support as we respond to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) risk. We commit to updating our community with relevant information regarding the District operations.  

    We continue to actively monitor the information available about COVID-19. Public Health - Seattle and King County, Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) continue to provide us with the most up-to-date information. There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Mercer Island. We are aware that some residents are self-quarantining based on suspected exposure to the virus. Additionally, today the City of Mercer Island declared a state of emergency. Doing this allows the City to act quickly should the outbreak spread to residents here.

    King County Public health authorities have issued the guidance aimed at reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19, asking the community to refrain from bringing large groups of people together and considering postponing events and gatherings. See King County Public Health News Blog, March 5, 2020. 

    As announced on Wednesday, March 4, the District is cancelling all off-Island school field trips and all after-school, evening and weekend activities at the schools. This cancellation excludes before and after school care (e.g. KidsCo.) as well as outdoor athletic practices. 

    School buildings will be closed to students and families 30 minutes after dismissal each day to allow our custodial crews ample time to clean and disinfect the buildings each evening. Buildings will be closed on weekends.

    Consistent with the recommendations from the Department of Health, the District is NOT closing schools.

    Public Health - Seattle and King County continues to recommend that schools NOT close entirely unless there is a confirmed case of COVID-19.  Public health leaders have stated that:

    • closing schools may not be effective because some children may congregate anyway, at other locations;
    • Many parents, such as healthcare workers, need to be at work. If these critical workers stay home with children it causes significant impacts on the health-care system and other institutions that are essential for our community to function; 
    • If schools close, some children might have to stay home with alternative caregivers, such as elders, who are more vulnerable;
    • We don’t know how effective children are in spreading this disease.

    This is a rapidly evolving situation. We will update the community should the situation change. 

    Where can families find accurate information about  COVID-19?

    For families in need of translation, please contact Mary Newcomer (206)230-6336 or mary.newcomer@mercerislandschools.org

    Sincerely,
    Donna Colosky
    Superintendent

    March 4, 2020

    Dear Mercer Island School District Community,

    Thank you for your continued support as we respond to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) risk. 

    We are actively monitoring the information available about COVID-19. Public Health - Seattle and King County, Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) continue to provide us with the most up-to-date information. There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Mercer Island. However, we are aware that out of an abundance of caution some residents are self-quarantining based on suspected exposure to the virus.

    King County Public health authorities have issued the following new guidance aimed at reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19:

    If you can feasibly avoid bringing large groups of people together, consider postponing events and gatherings. 

    See King County Public Health News Blog, March 4, 2020. 

    Though the above is only guidance, not a requirement, the District is nonetheless cancelling all off-Island school field trips and after-school, evening and weekend activities. This cancellation excludes before and after school care (e.g. KidsCo.) as well as athletic practices (e.g. soccer, lacrosse, track, etc.). 

    The District’s cancellation of such events begins tonight, Wednesday, March 4.

    King County Public Health is not recommending that schools close unless there is a confirmed case of COVID-19. The reasons for this recommendation include that, so far, children have not been shown to be a high-risk group and in the past, specifically during the 2009/10 H1N1 outbreak, school closures did not have a significant impact on reducing the spread of that virus. 

    This is a rapidly evolving situation. We will update the community should the situation change. 

    Be assured that we are:

    • Staying up to date with current, accurate information from the state and county DOH;
    • Sharing good hygiene practices and practicing routine cleaning and disinfecting procedures of commonly touched surfaces; 
    • Maintaining an open line of communication with Public Health - Seattle and King County;
    • Communicating regularly with students, families, staff and our community;
    • Intentionally and persistently combating stigma surrounding COVID-19; and
    • Actively engaged in contingency planning for the possibility of extended school closures. 

    On Tuesday, March 3, OSPI provided an updated bulletin (See OSPI Bulletin 14-20) with guidance for school districts regarding student attendance; waivers (if necessary) for missed days and instructional hours due to closures; and distance learning.

    Student Attendance

    We understand that, out of a concern for their student’s safety, some families may choose to keep their children home even if not ill. If a student misses school for this reason, the student’s absence may be considered excused. Similarly, if a student self-quarantines or is quarantined on the advice from medical professionals, such absences will also be excused. If a student self-quarantines or is quarantined on the advice of medical professionals, the student’s family should immediately contact the school. As with any illness-related absence, we will work with each individual student and family in support of the student’s learning.  

    Cleaning the schools and facilities

    The District continues to diligently clean and sanitize our schools, buses and other buildings. District nurses and lead custodians will continue to collaborate on ways to keep our schools and building sites safe. The District will remind students, staff, and visitors to use universal precautions such as hand washing, coughing into a tissue or elbow and avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth. Please help us by reinforcing the use of universal precautions at home with your child.

    With staff support, we continue to utilize the Health Department recommended sanitizing products in all of our classrooms, communal spaces and buses. 

    The District has developed an extended schedule to clean and sanitize our schools over the weekends to reduce disruptions during the day. 

    How will the District provide notification if a school closure occurs?

    MISD will use our usual emergency notification system for any school closure, including FlashAlert, email, text, our website, and social media platforms. Remember that we work in coordination with King County Public Health and can only release medical information that complies with privacy laws.

    Will the Mercer Island School District offer alternative learning (online) if schools are closed?

    Again, the District wants to emphasize that at this point the public health authorities are NOT recommending closing schools at this time. If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19, Public Health will work with the school and the District to determine the best measures including potential closure of the school.  

    In the event the District is advised to temporarily close one or more school sites, the District will seek to make up any missed days through the use of inclement weather/emergency make-up days and pursuing the waiver process, as available. See OSPI Bulletin 14-20.

    MISD, along with school districts across the Puget Sound region, are exploring many options for offering educational opportunities in non-traditional settings should one or more schools be closed for an extended period. Online connectivity and access is just one of many considerations when thinking about the whole child. We have students with a broad range of learning needs for whom we offer a myriad of services and supports each day. Simply moving to an online learning platform does not guarantee that we can continue to offer equitable access to all students as part of a free and appropriate public education.

    While we may not be able to supplant one of our 180 school days with online classes, the District is continuing to prepare for ways we can supplement learning for our students and support families at home during extended school closure. Our Instructional Technology Coaches and other educators are already working on this. 

    Where can families find accurate information about  COVID-19?

    For families in need of translation, please contact Mary Newcomer (206)230-6336 or mary.newcomer@mercerislandschools.org

    Sincerely, 
    Donna Colosky
    Superintendent

     

    March 2, 2020

    Dear Mercer Island School District Community,

    We want to thank our community for its measured response to this outbreak. Consistent with its Saturday communication, the Mercer Island School District continues to actively monitor the information available about novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Public Health - Seattle and King County, Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) continue to provide us with the most up-to-date information. There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Mercer Island.

    Excused absences

    We understand that, out of a concern for their student’s safety, some families may choose to keep their children home even if not ill. If a student misses school for this reason, the absence may be considered excused. Similarly, if a student self-quarantines or is quarantined on the advice from medical professionals, such absences will also be excused. If a student self-quarantines or is quarantined on the advice of medical professionals, the student’s family should immediately contact the school. As with any illness-related absence, we will work with each individual student and family in support of the student’s learning.  

    Cleaning the schools and facilities

    The District continues to diligently clean and sanitize our schools, buses and other buildings. District nurses and lead custodians will continue to collaborate on ways to keep our schools and building sites safe. The District will remind students, staff and visitors to use universal precautions such as hand washing, coughing into a tissue or elbow and avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth. Please help us by reinforcing the use of universal precautions at home with your child.

    Here is a wonderful video created by the students of West Mercer on hand washing.

    No school or activity cancellations at this time

    At this time, the state DOH and Public Health - Seattle and King County are NOT recommending school closures or cancellation of activities such as athletic events, school assemblies or other community events in the schools. Neighboring schools that have closed have done so because it has been confirmed that a student, staff or community member who has been in the school has been exposed to or contracted COVID-19. To datethis has not occurred in our District. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and we will be certain to update you should the situation change.

    Will the Mercer Island School District offer alternative learning (online) if schools are closed?

    Last Friday, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chris Reykdal, sent a memo to school districts which included in part:

    While some of you (school districts) may be in a position to maintain educational continuity for some of your schools or programs using distance learning methods (Alternative Learning Experiences [ALE], online), we urge you to use an equity lens when making these plans. School districts must ensure equal access to education for all students. It will likely make more sense to cancel school and/or district services and make up missed days at the end of the school year, rather than deploying a distance learning model that can be accessed by some, but not all, of your students.

    Our District will take a measured approach to the teaching and learning process if schools are closed for an extended period of time and consider a variety of options when planning for the educational program for all of our students. Educators in the District are continuing to meet to develop ways to make any existing online tools and resources even more easily accessed by families to engage students at home.

    Where can families find accurate information about  COVID-19?

    Sincerely, 

    Donna Colosky
    Superintendent

    Feb. 29, 2020

    Dear Mercer Island Community,

    Mercer Island School District nurses and administrators have been diligently monitoring the worldwide outbreak and spread of respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) continue to remind us that the threat to the general public in Washington is considered low at this time. 

    There have been no confirmed cases on Mercer Island. However, because the health and safety of students, staff, and the community is at the center of the District’s priorities, we want to share with you information, resources, and examples of proactive steps the District is taking to help safeguard our school community’s health.

    Where can families find accurate information about  COVID-19?

    What is MISD doing to proactively keep our school community as healthy as possible?

    • School nurses and our maintenance and operations department are in daily communication with the DOH, Public Health - Seattle and King County, and other school personnel from surrounding districts.
    • This weekend, our custodians are going through each building with Clorox Total 360 machines to clean every classroom and common area. Clorox Total 360 machines are electrostatic disinfectant sprayers that enable the District to better disinfect and sanitize surfaces, a step that is critical to prevent the spread of illness and disease. 
    • In addition to the daily cleaning of all buildings, the District is using the Clorox Total 360 machines to clean and sanitize building common spaces like health rooms, office areas, and shared spaces at least once per week.  
    • Hand sanitizer is made available at each school and District building as another way to reduce the spread of germs and bacteria.

    What can we do as a community to help prevent the spread of illnesses like flu and coronavirus?

    • The DOH identifies handwashing as the best defense to any virus or illness. It is especially important to wash your hands before eating. 
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.
    • Wash your hands before you eat.
    • If your child is sick, please keep them at home. While global attention is focused on the coronavirus, we want to remind our community that many types of Influenza are a concern this year and it's important to protect yourself and others.  As a reminder, students should be kept home if they have the following symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea. Your student should be free of fever for 24 hours without fever lowering medication prior to returning to school.  Students should also have no episodes of vomiting or diarrhea for 24 hours prior to returning to school. 
    • If you suspect you may have been exposed to the coronavirus and are not experiencing life-threatening conditions like shortness of breath, please call your doctor’s office.  Nurses and doctors will be able to advise whether you need to be seen. 

    Is the District concerned about the potential stigma associated with COVID-19?

    • The District is aware that erroneous information is circulating about certain races and ethnicities being more susceptible to COVID-19 than others. To combat this, the District has hung posters with the message, “Viruses Do Not Discriminate '' in every school and building in the District. Staff in each school is also monitoring student conversations and correcting inaccurate information when heard. 

    Other schools in the Puget Sound region have closed or may close. How will MISD make the determination to close a school or not?

    • The District works closely with Public Health - Seattle and King County and the State Department of Health. Schools that have closed have done so because it has been confirmed that a student, staff or community member who has been in the school has been exposed to or contracted COVID-19. To datethis has not occurred in our District. The decision to close one or more District schools will be made if a confirmed case of or exposure to COVID-19 is identified in our school community and after discussions with public health authorities.

    If MISD closes a school or multiple schools, what is the plan for teaching and learning?

    • Our first priority will be the health and safety of our students, staff and community.
    • The District would likely close the school until the health risk can be appropriately addressed.  
    • In the case of a school closure, the District may use weather make-up days, extend the school year, or apply for a waiver from the state to account for the loss of instructional time. 
    • We are committed to an equitable educational opportunity for each student which means that online learning to keep school in session despite school closure is not, at this time, a viable way to address a short term school closure.

    Where should questions be directed?  

    The Washington State DOH has established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington, how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, please call 1-800-525-0127 and press #. 

    What’s next?

    The District will continue to update families about COVID-19 as more information becomes available. Any updates will be shared through the District’s usual communications channels, including on the web at www.mercerislandschools.org, social media and the School Messenger family notification system.

    Sincerely,

    Donna Colosky
    Superintendent


    Feb. 25, 2020

    Many countries are experiencing an expanding outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus. Currently, the immediate risk to the general public in Washington state is considered to be low. There is no evidence that COVID-19 is spreading in Washington at this time and there have been no cases on Mercer Island and only one confirmed case statewide.

    Our school administrators and nurses are monitoring the Department of Health updates daily and will continue to provide the most up to date information to our community. 

    Washington State Health Department coronavirus information page has a great deal of information and is updated each day.

    Public Health - Seattle and King County Coronavirus Information page

    The Mercer Island School District has an emergency response plan and protocols in place for health risks that we will enact if needed. The Washington Department of Health is generally the lead agency in health crisis situations and they provide direction to school districts. The Department of Health is recommending handwashing as the best defense to any virus or illness. Our custodians work to keep our schools clean daily and are taking additional measures to disinfect as needed. 

    What is a coronavirus?

    Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually cause mild respiratory illnesses such as the common cold. Some coronaviruses have caused more severe illness, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus that was not identified in humans before December 2019.

    What are common symptoms of COVID-19?

    Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus. COVID-19 is a new disease, and we are learning more each day about its symptoms and how it is spread. People are NOT at risk because of their race, nationality, or ethnicity. People also are not considered at risk if they live or spend time with someone who recently traveled to China and doesn’t have symptoms. 

    How does the virus spread?

    Most often, coronavirus spreads from person-to-person via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how flu and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

    It's currently unclear if a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or their eyes. Often, with most respiratory viruses, people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).

    Who should seek medical evaluation for COVID-19?

    Students, staff, and volunteers who are:

    • Ill with a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing AND have traveled from China in the last 14 days.
    • Ill with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing AND have been identified by public health officials as a recent close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case or had recent close contact with someone who is being evaluated for COVID-19 infection 

    Infectious Disease Policies

    MISD School Board Policy 3414A- Infectious Diseases

    MISD School Board Procedure 3414P- Infectious Diseases

    OSPI Infectious Disease Control Guide

    Cold and flu season is here!

    While the global attention is on the coronavirus and China right now, we want to remind our community that many strands of Influenza are a concern this year and it's important to protect yourself and others. If your child is sick, please keep them at home.  If you're not sure if your child has the flu, ask these questions:  

    • Is there a fever?  
    • Are there other symptoms such as a cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, diarrhea or vomiting?  

    If the answer is YES to one or more of these symptoms your child might have the flu or other contagious conditions and should stay home. 

    There are ways to take a few simple actions to protect yourself and your family:

    • Ensure everyone has a flu shot in your family
    • Wash hands thoroughly and frequently 
    • Drink plenty of fluids
    • Get plenty of rest
    • Stay home when ill.   

    Please take a moment to review the information below from the Centers for Disease Prevention, Washington State Department of Health, and the King County Health Department for preventing the spread of colds, flu, and other diseases.

    Not sure when to keep your student home? Guidelines for When To Keep Your Student Home From School  

    Flu illustrated info sheet

    Taking care of flu