The following is a family message Superintendent Susan Enfield sent families on March 10, 2020.
Dear Highline Families,
As coronavirus continues to spread in our region, I know we all have growing concerns about the health and safety of our families. I share your concern. I feel deeply my responsibility to keep our students and staff safe and healthy.
Many of you are asking why we have not closed schools. As we have shared since this crisis began, we are depending on the guidance of public health professionals who are the experts in protecting the community during disease outbreaks. They have consistently recommended against closing schools in part because that could actually contribute to the crisis, as health care workers stay home to care for their children.
I have believed from the start that cooperating with public health authorities is the best way to control this outbreak. I promise you, I would not keep schools open if I thought our children would be less safe in school than elsewhere in the community. If public health authorities direct us to close schools, we will do so.
That said, I understand that every family is in a unique situation. Some may have people in their households who are vulnerable to complications from COVID-19. You may have a medically fragile child. If you choose to keep your child out of school, I respect your decision. The absence will be excused, and your student’s teachers will do their best to provide missed schoolwork.
I want to remind you that providing schoolwork when many students are absent is no small task, so I ask you to give teachers some grace. Remember that in addition to showing up for our students every day, teachers are dealing with their own concerns for the welfare of their families.
I also know rumors fly in any crisis situation. I encourage you to stay informed by checking our website often. We are posting new developments at least daily. We will inform you directly if we learn of a confirmed COVID-19 case in our schools.
This is a difficult time and there is no easy path. Every day presents new dilemmas. We are doing our very best with the information we have, at a time when information is changing quickly. Thank you for your patience and partnership as we work through this crisis together.