Update from San Juan Island School District Superintendent Fred Woods


For the past two years, schools on San Juan Island have maintained their commitment to following guidelines set forth by the state Department of Health. Our main objective has been to ensure that all schools remain open. Throughout the 2021-22 school year and especially during Omicron’s latest push, we admittedly have not been an entirely COVID-free environment. However, the San Juan Island School District‘s dedicated health team has been working diligently to limit exposure and contain viral spread so our doors can remain open for all students.

On February 17, at a press conference, Governor Inslee proclaimed that mask mandates in schools and other public places in Washington would be lifted on March 21. It’s a breath of fresh air. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal said new school guidelines would be provided to us before the order takes effect. We all hope that our current COVID numbers on San Juan Island will mimic the state’s decline over the next five weeks. Until then, all mitigation measures, including masks, will remain in place.

Safety has always been our top priority. The goal of our school district is to provide a meaningful, rigorous, and goal-oriented education. The pandemic has impacted the district’s ability to achieve this goal. I have no doubt that as the pandemic becomes endemic, our schools will improve socially, emotionally and educationally.

Just prior to the Governor’s announcement, our community showed strong support for our schools with a 70% “yes” on the renewal of EPO Levy. Issues with state mandates have caused divisions in many communities. Everyone has the right to express their belief. It’s an age-old practice of being American. What’s impressive is that the people of San Juan Island have remained civil even when we disagree. The proof of this civility is to collectively vote yes for a renewal of levies in order to continue the quality public education needed and expected in our own community. We can’t thank you enough for this support.

Congratulations to Friday Harbor High School art students Islay Ross (left) and Lily Rock (right) for winning awards at the prestigious Western Regional Scholastic Arts & Writing Competition. FULL STORY

Even during a pandemic, there is still much to celebrate in our schools. Two of our art students were recognized for their excellence in a national competition. The college play performance was excellent, as was the band’s concert. The group’s students also successfully competed in the solo ensemble. The hiking club is set to head to the Grand Canyon for its annual hike in April. Winter sports ended their season with pride. Kindness Week was a big hit with elementary students. Much more could be pointed out, but what I mean is that the schools have worked hard to provide as many opportunities as possible for students, even with state-mandated restrictions, limitations, and accommodations.

As we enter the winter break, we can expect spring to have in store for us. Although the one constant during the pandemic has been change, we are prepared and looking forward to this one! One thing I can promise you is that we will continue to work hard to keep schools safe and focus on the main goal of providing a first-class education for all students.

Once again, I am grateful for your support during this unprecedented and difficult time for our students and their families.

Fred Woods



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