Dear Parents and Guardians,
As this school year comes to an end, I would like to thank you for all that you have done throughout this school year to support your students. I am very aware of how difficult and challenging it was to keep up with all of the many changes that happened as we reacted, responded, and adjusted to the COVID-19 health and safety requirements specific to our schools. Our goal was always to provide as much support as possible for our students. I know that our efforts around this were not perfect and we had some missteps along the way, but we truly could not have done it without the flexibility and support of all of you.
Over the past couple of weeks we have watched our three high schools (Monroe High School, Leaders in Learning and Sky Valley Education Center) graduate students and send them on to their futures. It was a great reminder of the purpose of our school district. It is our responsibility to work together with you to prepare the next generation of Monroe students for their life journeys. These graduations reminded me of the importance of our Monroe Commitments around Powerful Instruction, High Expectations, and Equitable Access for all of our students. We continue to focus on these tenets as we move forward to the 2021-2022 school year.
There has been some recent controversy around a couple of topics that warrant mentioning as we close this school year. First, a recent law provides funding for school districts to carry out cultural competency training for staff and board members. This training is often referred to as diversity, equity, and/or inclusion (DEI) training. The concept of critical race theory has made its way into this discussion and it is important to understand that the Monroe School District does not have policies, plans, or intent to incorporate critical race theory into this training for staff or any instruction for our students. In fact, the bill does not include any mention or requirement specific to critical race theory. A copy of Senate Bill 5044 can be found here.
Another concern that has grown out of recent legislative action is Senate Bill 5395 and its requirements for sexual health education. This bill provides for a lot of flexibility and local decision making specific to the instructional materials. Our school board was briefed recently by our staff regarding implications for our school system. Since we already provide sexual health programs in our system, our efforts will be to align our practice to the requirements and update our materials as necessary. This will be a very public process with regular updates to the school board and our community. The parent notification and opt out process prior to any instruction taking place will remain in effect allowing families to be in control of the decisions around whether or not their child participates in this programming. Ultimately, our goal is to uphold the legal requirements while providing an age appropriate sexual health curriculum that supports our students' overall health and well-being. SB 5395 can be found here.
Finally, a consistent question is around masks and whether or not they will be required in our schools this next fall. At this time, guidance from the Washington State Department of Health and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) indicate that masks will be required for our students. That said, we anticipate that we will continue to receive guidance specific to our return to full time, five days per week instruction in the fall throughout the summer. Any changes to the current requirements will be updated through our normal communication channels.
I hope that you are all able to take a deep breath and rest after a tremendously challenging school year. Thank you for all of your support and I wish you all the best for a wonderful summer.
Justin J. Blasko
Monroe School District