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    Letter From Keven Wynkoop, Ballard High School Principal
    Posted on 03/24/2020
    Letter From Principal Wynkoop

    Letter From Keven Wynkoop, Ballard High School Principal

    The following message was sent via SchoolMessenger to all Ballard High School families on Tuesday, March 24, 2020  

    Ballard Families,

    Yesterday morning we had our first chance to allow staff to come into our school to pick up items that were left behind when school closed. It was great to be able to see many members of our staff (from more than six feet away), if only for a short time on their way in and out of the building. Mostly though it was a reminder about how much I miss seeing your students on a daily basis. I can’t wait to be back standing in the hall welcoming all of them home to BHS.

    There are still far more questions than answers at this point about the length of the absence and the impacts that it will have on our students. The best information is coming directly from the school district, but there are aspects of that information that need a little translation. I hope to accomplish that through this message, but most importantly, I want to add to the chorus of people urging you and especially your teenagers to just stay home.

    We are less than two weeks into a break that will last at least six weeks and I know that it must feel impossible to convince some of them to stay away from their friends, but the only hope that we have of resuming school and getting to have our memorable end of the year traditions like prom, the moving up assembly, the musical, concerts and graduation is if everyone makes a serious effort to stay home, away from friends. I know that few students will see this, so yesterday I posted a plea on Instagram to the same effect.

    The best source of information on a ton of topics is Ballard’s website (ballardhs.seattleschools.org), as our amazing Webmaster is closely following and posting information on all of the updates.

    One of the best ways to stay academically engaged is to read and our librarian, Ms. Chambers, is hosting virtual library hours and many other engaging strategies, which you can learn about on the website and social media.

    Here are updates on things that are specific to BHS and high school students

    • The latest bulletin from the school district said that “Teachers have been asked to continue communicating with families and students in support of academic work throughout the closure. Specifically, they have been asked to communicate with families at least two times per week via Schoology…” This is a good plan and most of our teachers have been providing information in this way, but what the bulletin did not include is that teachers are currently not officially working, as of yet. For the initial closure, teachers were told to treat it like Spring Break, but then Governor Inslee extended the absence at least through April 24. There is no way that we are going to make up all of these days of school, so we need to transition from treating this as Spring Break to some kind of new scenario. SPS and the Seattle Education Association are working out what that will look like, but until they do, it is important to concentrate on the first four words of the quote above “Teachers have been asked…” and the teacher work cannot be required yet. I have urged teachers to comply with this request and most are eagerly doing so, but others are waiting for the resolution of the negotiations.

    • SPS has said repeatedly, with the full support of OSPI (who convinced Northshore to shut down their online learning), that we will not be transitioning to Digital Learning Days due to the inequities that cannot be overcome. This goes well beyond access to computers and Wi-Fi. Many homes and families in Seattle just cannot and do not support their students as well academically at home as many others. This means that work is very likely to remain optional and ungraded throughout the break.

    • We got a major update on AP exams this week, which hopefully you have heard about. The College Board announced that all exams will be 45 minutes long and taken at home on one of two testing dates. They also said that the exams would only cover material typically covered by early March. There are still many more details to come out, but look for updates from the College Board and AP teachers with the details for the courses that your student is in.

    • We are waiting for an update from the UW about college in the high school classes later this week. Once we know how the rest of those classes will be handled, teachers will provide updates to their students.

    • The State Legislature passed a law saying that seniors that were “on track” before the closure will not be penalized by the absence in their progress towards graduation. We are still learning what exactly that means, but there are many possibilities for exactly what “on track” means and what kinds of new interventions SPS may be able to come up with to support students. Once we have details, your student’s counselor will be in contact with what this means for your student, but generally if they were in the classes required for graduation (and passing them) this will apply to them. We will still need to work out PE waivers, Service Learning hours and other requirements at a later point.

    • If you didn’t see this already, all state testing is cancelled for the rest of this year. Although there is a possible exception for some seniors that were counting on earning a credit for passing the test. We are waiting for more details on this exception.

    • As of this morning, all SPS fields and playgrounds are CLOSED. If your student needed another reason to stay home, please use this.

    In general, it is too early to have answers for any school activity scheduled for after April 27. I really hope that all of the classes, activities and athletics that we have scheduled can resume, but this is directly related to how serious we all take the orders to stay at home to stop the exponential growth rate of this virus. I have not seen anything like this in my lifetime and as an educator and the parent of a senior, I am really feeling the potential losses that are still possible for all of us. Please, do as much as you can to keep your teenager and your whole family at home, as much as possible.

    I really miss your students and I hope that all of you are safe and healthy.

    #AG2BB
    Keven Wynkoop
    Ballard High School
    Principal