Dear Easton School Families and Community Members:
For many of you I have been fortunate to meet so far I want to thank you for the warm greetings and welcome to the community. For those that I haven’t been fortunate to meet, I would like to introduce myself and then relate some critical information about school reopening.
My name is Tim Berndt, a retired principal and dairy farmer producer/handler. I have lived in the upper Kittitas County for eleven years now, commuting the last nine years of work to Tacoma. I’m married to an amazing wife, have two hard-working daughters in education jobs, a son and daughter in-laws working in education and four grandchildren. I was hired as the interim superintendent/principal July 1. I have an open door policy so please, if you have questions email me or stop by. Now for the other news to keep you updated.
Two weeks ago, Governor Inslee announced the continuation of our face covering requirement for all staff and students working in educational facilities where students are present. This requirement applies to both unvaccinated and vaccinated students and staff. While some states have turned masking decisions over to local school boards, our local school board does not have the authority to override the legal requirement set forth by the Governor of Washington.
The Governor and our Department of Health (DOH) will continue to review the data, new variations of the COVID-19 virus, and the effectiveness of masking, hand washing and social distancing for any possibility that we can loosen masking requirements.
I know many of our community members have expressed a strong desire to eliminate mask mandates this fall, and this message is disappointing. I do believe that in time, we will be able to move toward a family choice for masking at school. However, until the Governor’s office adjusts the legal mandate and the Delta variant is contained, Washington state will continue to require all schools to implement a mask mandate. The mask mandate covers public, private, charter and tribal compact schools.
Easton Schools will offer full-time in person learning for each and every family. We will protect our students by complying with the rules. Local community members will always have the right to bring their grievances to their elected leaders, but in the case of these public health measures, they are not local decisions. Local boards of directors have broad discretion on the details of instructional delivery. They are not empowered, however, to override the legal authority of public health officers or the Governor in times of a public health emergency. Individuals who violate the mask orders, or other strategies, not only carry individual legal risks, but they also risk cases and outbreaks in school that will warrant quarantines, school building closures, and disruptions in high-quality in-person learning. If there is a medical issue please contact your doctor for important ways to manage masking.
Wearing masks, for now, is an important healthy strategy when added to additional strategies, including vaccinating every eligible person.
As we get closer to the school year starting, we will be providing families with more facts and information to help keep you updated and informed.
Thanks so much and I look forward to meeting you all!
Tim Berndt, Interim Superintendent and Principal
Easton School District
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