Dear NFSD Parents, Students and Staff:
Thank you for taking the time yesterday to participate in the survey we conducted to gather parent, staff, student and community input regarding the mask mandate in our schools. We will begin compiling that data as soon as we can and will make sure the school board has the information you have provided as they make decisions to work through the coming days and weeks.
Please know that your board of directors has been, and will continue, listening to the input and feelings from across the district when it comes to the mask mandate. At the regularly scheduled school board meeting this last Monday, the board of directors signed a letter to Governor Inslee showing their support of State Superintendent Reykdal’s position that the mask mandate should come to an end. That letter was sent to the Governor Tuesday morning and was also forwarded to the State Superintendent (see attached). This afternoon at 2:00 pm, Governor Inslee will be holding a press conference where we have been told he will be announcing a date when the indoor mask mandate for schools will come to an end.
Between the protests that students participated in locally, passionate and well attended school board meetings here in the NFSD, and even two school boards in the state voting to not follow the mandate, it is very evident that the frustration with the mask mandate is extremely high. Throughout these events unfolding we have continued to communicate with our district legal counsel who has been clear that the district does not have the legal authority to choose to violate the mandates set forth by the Governor, the Washington Department of Health, and the Department of Labor and Industries. Just last night, we received a letter from our insurance provider stating any mask decision made outside of the current state mandate will result in the loss of insurance/liability coverage and will make the voting members of our school board personally liable for any future litigation. Both of the school boards that have voted to violate the mandate have received notification from OSPI that they have two weeks to comply with the mandate or they will begin losing their monthly apportionment of funds. If the North Franklin School District were to receive that consequence, that would amount to a loss of approximately $2.5 million on average per month, which would force us into shutting down all operations in just over a month. One of the two districts has remained closed, beginning immediately after the school board voted to violate the mandate, and it is unclear when or how they will be resuming operations.
Throughout the last two years, this school district (board of directors, parents, staff, students and community) has led the state in efforts to respond to the pandemic by moving to remote learning, reopening in the hybrid model, and switching back to full in person instruction. We have been faced with obstacle after obstacle and challenge after challenge and we have overcome every one of them successfully, together. The continued in person education, safety, and well-being of our students continues to be the top priority in our efforts across our district. We are grateful for your continued support and patience as we collectively hope for an end to the pandemic and the resulting disruptions and changes that it has caused to our lives.
Kids First, Education Always