School Board President Statement

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The Washougal School Board has a proud tradition of inviting civil, civic participation in our business meetings.  The board lives here, our members have students in our schools, and we are active in our community.  We appreciate and value the diverse set of opinions in our community, and we weigh the needs of our students, families, staff, and community as we make decisions as a board.

Responding to the enormous challenges and demands created by COVID-19 has not been easy work.  We have heard from many families about the toll the pandemic has taken, particularly last year when we were operating remotely. We have also heard about the ongoing stress and anxiety our current situation is putting on our students, staff, and families. However, we are committed to staying open, and serving students in-person, because we know this is what our district families want and what allows us to best support a child’s academic, social, and emotional development and well-being. To provide this important in-person learning, we must comply with the statewide mask mandate and other rules from the Department of Health and state of Washington. We have our students, families, and staff counting on us to ensure safety in our schools, not just during the unprecedented times we find ourselves in, but at all times.

To those who are frustrated by these rules, we ask you to direct your feedback to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, to the State Department of Health, and to the Governor’s Office.  The mandates are clear; we must wear masks to be open for in-person instruction.

Our highest priority is, and always will be, the health and safety of our students, staff, and families.  We are resolute in our commitment to ensure safe, healthy schools.

We continue to invite public comment at our board meetings and welcome hearing all perspectives, including differing opinions.  The board and our staff have listened attentively, and we seek to understand the needs members of the public bring to the meeting, and ways our system can adjust to best meet the needs of our entire community.  But let us be clear that those who seek to threaten, bully, and harass the board into abandoning our responsibility to follow safety measures are advocating for changes that are not legal, and which the board cannot support.  While we have heard and understand the concerns from some families about masks, we will support and enforce the health measures required by DOH, OSPI, and the Governor.  At the end of the day, the safety of our students comes first.

To that end, the board will remind those seeking to share public comment that they must be civil in their remarks. We will remind you that we are in a school facility, have students present, and we will treat each other with respect.

As stated in WSD Board Policy 1400, speakers must not make comments that are libelous or slanderous; are an unwarranted invasion of privacy; use profane or indecent language; violate our policy on harassment, intimidation, bullying, or discrimination; incite unlawful acts on school properties; or create a material and substantial disruption to the orderly operation of the board’s meeting. Further, speakers and members of the public who attend in person must comply with the posted health requirements.  Any member of the public who wishes to speak must identify themselves, as per our process.  Any speaker who does not comply with these rules for participation will lose that opportunity, and we will move on to the next speaker.

Our board is focused on our vision for our schools, knowing, nurturing, and challenging all students to rise.  Together, our community has asked for bold leadership, innovative programs to support students, and a commitment to prepare students to contribute to our community.  As we set high expectations for all students, and challenge our students to stretch and grow, the adults in our community must model the skills students need to be successful in a 21st century workplace, which include hard work, determination, resiliency, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and appreciation across differences.  We call on our community to work together in a civil and respectful way as we seek to serve students.

Sincerely,

Cory Chase, President
Washougal School District Board

 

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