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Thank you from Orcas School | Guest column

by Eric Webb

OISD Superintendent

On behalf of Orcas Island School District, I would like to thank you for a successful school year! You, along with other members of our island community, students, families, OISD Staff, local organizations and businesses (OIEF, OICF, Camp Orkila, Fun House and Rock Island), rallied together with a common goal of providing the best support and educational opportunities possible for our students while also ensuring the safety of our students, staff, and community. From weekly meals, internet connectivity, social and emotional support, outdoor education, distant learning, hybrid learning, learning pods, in-person learning, safety protocols, COVID testing, and more — we persevered!

I must take a moment to share something that the OISD staff and I have witnessed throughout this challenging time together, which is students exhibiting extraordinary resilience, adaptability, and compassion in the face of a global pandemic.

While our students may not yet even be aware of this, they have seized opportunities to: connect at a deeper level with the ones they love; learn that “life is not always fair”; create stronger family bonds; share their gifts with others less fortunate; support the emotional health of their peers; realize it is okay to not be okay and ask for help; develop a sense of grit and a growth mindset; explore and expand their creativity and talents; witness a true sense of community.

Our fall schedule will resemble pre-COVID schedules of the past in many ways with all students on campus and early releases on Wednesday afternoons for staff professional collaboration and learning. Soft starts and scheduled outdoor educational opportunities implemented during COVID will however remain in place due to their outstanding benefits! The district calendar can be viewed here, OISD 21-22 Calendar.

Rest assured that we will continue to follow and implement health and safety protocols issued by the Washington Department of Health which, at this time, include masks, physical spacing of 3 feet, and increased air filtration and circulation. An added safety measure, pooled COVID testing will be offered for all students and staff returning to campus to ensure a successful start to the new school year.

The district will increase and continue to support the social and emotional health, as the pandemic has created many challenges for students and families. Two examples of such support include the addition of a Student and Family Empowerment Advocate at the middle school and the continuation of outdoor education.

The OISD District Office will remain open to the public throughout the summer from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and OISD will continue COVID testing to students and OISD employees throughout the summer. Testing will take place each Wednesday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the cafeteria for asymptomatic employees. Testing for symptomatic individuals will continue to be by appointment only by contacting cferran@orcas.k12.wa.us.