The Stanwood-Camano School District Board of Directors is thankful for the variety of ways the community stepped up to serve our students, their families and our staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When we shut our doors on March 11, the top priority was making sure that our kids were still being fed. School districts were provided a variety of regulatory waivers, which freed us up to think creatively. We ended up being able to distribute food at four schools and twelve other locations by bus. We partnered with the Stanwood Camano Food Bank and Kidz Eat, and in the last three months, we distributed more than 123,000 free meals to kids.

Our next hurdle was surveying our families to determine their access to computers and reliable internet. Due to the generosity of this community in passing our 2018 Capital Project & Technology Levy, we had already purchased Chromebooks and were able to check them out to anyone that wanted one. We were also able to provide Mobile Hotspots for families to access the internet through help from Sno-Isle Libraries and a grant from the Stanwood-Camano Area Foundation’s RE/MAX Community Chest. We distributed more than 2,100 Chromebooks and 148 internet hotspots. 

Reliable internet access remains an issue for many of our families and even our staff. This infrastructure is something that school districts across the state have told our legislators must be improved. We have also expressed our concern for students with special needs. Remote learning does not provide the consistent support that they need on a daily basis.

Childcare for essential frontline workers was also indicated as a priority early on. Without schools to rely on during daytime hours, several of our local daycare centers adjusted to provide additional services for these families. We were able to partner with Josie’s Learning Center, Green Acres, and the Stanwood-Camano YMCA, sending them meals and Chromebooks, as they offered to help with schooling while parents were at work. 

When we realized that this would be a long-term closure, our staff began to model what it looks like to be a “lifelong learner” as they adapted to make sure that learning could continue to happen remotely. This required professional development and flexibility as each member of our school district took on tasks that they have never done before.

Many people have wondered if our new construction is still on track, and we are pleased to say that our timelines are intact. Our contractors worked hard to make each crew member feel safe in coming to work. They added morning temperature checks, handwashing stations and adjusted schedules to keep workers distanced at all three sites. They came up with creative solutions like filling the PAC with scaffolding so that different subcontractors could all work without having to share lifts.

Our community has shown their support in so many ways: donating masks and other PPE; local businesses hired our high schoolers; and PTAS, PTOS and Booster Clubs worked to help our families as they maneuvered distance learning. We have also received overwhelming encouragement for our graduates. The City of Stanwood made a Proclamation encouraging the community to wear Lincoln Hill Lynx colors on Thursdays and Stanwood Spartan colors on Fridays during the month of June. Donors to the Stanwood-Camano Area Foundation gave more than $206,000 to our seniors in scholarship money. There have been many wonderful opportunities on social media to participate in making this year special for students of all ages.

School may end soon, but our work doesn’t stop. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction recently released recommendations for schooling in the fall. We will now begin the challenging task of figuring out what that means for our district, and while our ideal would be to return to normal, we plan to educate in the best possible way we can while transitioning out of COVID-19.  

Elizabeth Edwards wrote, “Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.” 

Thank you, Stanwood-Camano, for helping us put together something that’s good.

Tom Wilfong is the Stanwood High School athletic director.

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