Back to School Info & Resources

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It is time for back to school!

We recognize that the start to the 2020-2021 school year is a little different, but we wish all of the students, parents, extended families, caregivers, MISD faculty, and staff all the best for the school year!

For information about the 2020-2021 school year click here: mercerislandschools.org/fall2020 Continue below for Superintendent Colosky's August 31 and the MISD Board's September 7 messages to Mercer Island families.

Did You Know? Even though school buildings are not physically open, school-based health centers will be open at 34 schools this fall. Click here for more information and locations.

Looking for ideas on how to help your kids through this quarter? Check out Best Starts for Kids post on Learning Pods: Back to School During a Pandemic.

On September 11, King County Public Health released this article entitled: Schools Preparing for a Measured Return to In-Person Learning. Click here to read the article.

The Department of Health has also put out the post, A healthy start to the school year, to help with ideas on making this different start to the school year, a good one.


Dear MISD families and community,

Welcome to the 2020-2021 school year!

Five months ago, when I made the determination that it was necessary to enact an emergency closure of our schools, I continued to be hopeful that our students would come back to our buildings. I knew it would look different with all of the health and safety protocols that we would learn and institute as the science taught us more about how this virus behaves.

Now as we start the year under the Red Learning phase, I remain optimistic that we will be returning to our classrooms for in-person teaching and learning sooner rather than later. When it is safe to do so, we will bring students back to the school buildings, especially our youngest learners and our learners who are most impacted.

We will continue to review our plans every three weeks and work in collaboration with Public Health - Seattle and King County as well as referencing the Washington Dept. of Health Decision Tree for reopening that is applicable for all school districts in the state.

As we analyze the health data, we also will be tracking staff availability, along with student engagement and learning in determining which individuals and small groups may return to in-person learning. Please know that we are listening to your suggestions and reading your emails.

For students to be able to participate in the Orange Learning phase, the county-wide risk in the decision tree must be moderate or lower. As a reminder, our Orange phase means we will bring some students back for expanded in-person learning and participation. It is an essential element of reopening that we make every effort to keep students in cohorts as we transition to more in-person learning settings. It is also important when we do return to in-person learning, that we implement all the Covid-19 health and safety guidelines.

There continues to be broad evidence that supports our core value of supporting the whole child. Our first priority during this unprecedented time must be supporting our students’ social and emotional development in order for learning to progress. Although our classrooms will be starting virtually, we must still emphasize relationships as the means to support our students’ learning.

As our District’s Values, Vision and Mission states “students are the priority,” we will continue to focus on how to personalize our students' learning by getting to know them individually in order to build a trusted relationship, even if it is virtual to begin the school year.

This school year is going to be like none other, but we are all continuing to learn and grow together. We will greet new students, learn new skills, be frustrated with technology, and continue our work together as a caring community with a growth mindset - our kids need and deserve it.

Please visit our Fall 2020 website at mercerislandschools.org/fall2020 for continuing updates, and please post your first day photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #MIFirstDay2020.

Sincerely,
Donna Colosky, Superintendent


September 7, 2020 Message from the MISD Board:

Dear Mercer Island Schools families and community,

We hope this first week of the 2020-2021 school year has gone well. The continued COVID-19 pandemic has required us to start the school year in a remote learning environment, with limited exceptions for some of the most impacted students. Additionally, the District is facing a significant reduction in revenue for transportation for the 2020-21 school year due to decreasing availability of financial resources.

The state has strict guidelines on transportation funding and how it can be allocated and spent, which is for primarily transporting students to and from school. While Governor Inslee has expanded the terms of transportation funding, that funding still applies only to specific job duties. Unless the state Legislature acts to change the funding model, the District does not anticipate receiving any transportation funding for the second half of the 2020-21 school year.

The District, as directed by School Board policy, must balance our value of 'Students are the Priority' and maintaining a fiscally responsible budget, while ensuring that our employees receive the most generous compensation plan possible.

At this time, the District is shifting positions in the transportation department that are regularly funded through the state to partial unpaid furlough/stand-by-status. While hours have been reduced, drivers still have some work transporting our more impacted children to and from appointments in school buildings. Affected staff members have been notified, and the School Board will consider the reductions at its September 10 meeting.

This is not a decision that was made quickly or reactively. The Superintendent and School Board have been advocating for modifications in state funding since March in order to protect our transportation department. The District receives state funding for transportation based on student use for to/from school ridership. Being in a remote learning model has required us to make some incredibly difficult decisions regarding our transportation department staffing.

Those furloughed will continue receiving District employer contributions to health insurance benefits throughout the school year as determined by the School Employees’ Benefit Board (SEBB). There will be assistance for these employees in applying for unemployment benefits. Human Resources is also working to assist them in being eligible as substitutes for positions in other departments for which they are qualified. We anticipate the furlough to continue during the remote instruction period.

These are unprecedented times impacting every school district in the state. While that does not provide solace for our valued transportation staff members affected by these adjustments, please know that we continue to push the Governor and the Legislature for clear guidance and adjustments to the transportation funding model that will allow us to maintain staffing, provide services and pivot to in-person learning.

Please encourage your students to continue to wear masks and maintain the six-foot social distancing so that we can all return to in-person learning as soon as possible.

Mercer Island School District Board of Directors
Deborah Lurie, President
Maggie Tai Tucker, Vice President
Tam Dinh, Director
David D’Souza, Director
Brian Giannini Upton, Director

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