Superintendent message: COVID-19 impacts

Jan. 7, 2022

Dear Parents and Families,

As you know, we are dealing with a huge increase in COVID-19 cases because of the Omicron variant. This is occurring throughout the state and the entire country, and is impacting school districts significantly. You may have seen today that schools in our region are having to close due to high numbers of staff and student absences.

I am writing this email to make you aware that we are seeing the same thing here in Battle Ground. Student absences have increased (a combination of sickness or being identified as a close contact), and staff absences have increased to the point where we cannot cover all classrooms, and we have been forced to suspend certain programs.

It is a priority for us to remain open, and we are doing everything we can to work through our challenges. We know that a closure or shift to remote learning is not what is best for our students. The district is balancing the health and safety of students, staff, families and community with the impact that a closure would have on learning and mental health. We also understand the needs and expectations of our families and know that any disruption of services would be difficult for many.

All that being said, I want you to know that there may come a point when we cannot proceed, and we are forced to close schools for a short time or to suspend even more programs, including extra curricular activities. We have been told that the peak of this surge is estimated to come towards the end of this month, which means that we are likely to see things get worse before they get better. Please understand, we are NOT there yet. We will do our best to keep schools and programs open.

Additionally, we are running out of testing supplies, and this may impact our ability to provide that important service. Without tests, we would struggle to get staff and students back in the classroom or meet our obligations to test athletes. We have ordered tests from the state’s Learn to Return program, but the supply is limited because of the extremely high demand.

I am asking for your help. Please do not send your children to school if they are experiencing symptoms. Please encourage your kids to follow the mitigation strategies that are in place, including masking and physical distancing. Lastly, if you are so inclined and can help us out during this time, please consider subbing in buildings so that we have the staffing capabilities to keep schools open. Again, the last thing we want to do is close.

I realize this email may be frustrating and concerning, but BGPS has promised that we will be transparent and that we will let our families know what is going on. This is an effort to do just that. We are also committed to the idea that we are in this together, and that we are better and more effective when we work with our families and are on the same page. We need your help, your support and your understanding during this difficult and challenging time.

We promise to keep you updated as we move forward.

Take Care,

Denny

Denny Waters, Superintendent
Battle Ground Public Schools

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