I want to thank the Battle Ground Public Schools community for your patience during these difficult times. In my 38 years of public education, I have never experienced anything like this. There is certainly no playbook for how to deal with a worldwide pandemic that forces the closure of schools and businesses and provides countless other major disruptions to our daily lives.
As a district, we are committed to doing all we can to help our families get through this unprecedented crisis. I want to address the steps we’ve already taken as a district, as well as provide information about continuing student learning.
Meal pickup and delivery
On the Friday after our schools closed, our top priority was to coordinate the distribution of lunches and breakfasts. In short order, our hardworking and dedicated nutrition services staff reconfigured their workspaces and routines to prepare sack lunches and breakfasts that can be picked up between 11 a.m. and noon on weekdays at 10 BGPS locations for any child ages 0-18.
By the end of the first week, we were providing meals to more than 1,300 children each day. As of last week, parents can also request meals be delivered to those who cannot make it to a pickup location. Meals are not available the week of spring break, but services will resume again on Monday, April 6.
Child care for first responders and medical professionals
The district has also established child care services for children of first responders and medical professionals, and will expand these services to grocery store employees after we return from spring break. Parents who work in these vitally important essential services can receive free child care for students in grades K-4 at two primary school locations, Pleasant Valley and Captain Strong. This service is staffed by Battle Ground Public Schools employees. While we know that child care is a need many families in our community share, this program is focused on helping those working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 outbreak and maintaining the health and safety of our community.
We understand that in addition to meal service and child care, our families are eager for students to continue learning at home. Shifting instructional delivery from the front of a classroom to more than 7,800 homes in a way that will benefit all students takes time, creative thinking and problem solving, especially in an environment where social distancing limits how we meet to plan, coordinate and implement a modified delivery system.
Over the past two weeks, we have been working quickly so that after spring break, our teachers can provide distance learning opportunities to students. While we expect that technology will be leveraged to support student learning, this won't be a conversion to “online school.” We are working to develop a tiered model of support with the goal that all students will benefit. Our modified instructional delivery system will not replace the quality and personalized learning that happens in our classrooms, but it will provide instruction to help our students retain academic skills.
Until we are able to offer an educational program, we have created a web page with links to many online learning sites at www.battlegroundps.org/home-learning-resources. You can search this page by keyword or browse by subject and grade level. We will continually add additional learning sites and videos describing these sites, so check back often.
As we continue to deliver resources and problem-solve the best way to develop a robust distance educational program and learning supports, our goal is to be creative, thoughtful, and efficient. It is a monumental task to completely change the way education is delivered to the nearly 13,000 students we serve, especially when attempting to do so in a matter of days. I am incredibly impressed and proud of the work that our employees and staff have done in light of this very challenging situation, and I look forward to our teachers working together to provide multiple ways for our students to learn after spring break.
More information about all of these topics is available on the School Closure Resources page of our website at www.battlegroundps.org/school-closure-information. As always, you can also contact us via email at email@example.com or by phone at (360) 885-5300.
Again, I thank you all for your continued support and understanding during a tremendously difficult time for all of us. I am heartened by the hard work, leadership, and resiliency demonstrated by the dedicated professionals that make our district a special place to learn and to work. Your children's learning is in great hands. Take care of yourself and each other, and we will get through this together.
Stay safe, and stay healthy,
Mark Ross is the superintendent for Battle Ground Public Schools.