Thanks to Judy Reel for the photol
Thanks to Judy Reel for the photol
May 7, 2021
Dear Ridgefield Families,
This week is teacher and staff appreciation week! The Ridgefield community is truly blessed to have so many wonderfully talented and passionate educators and support staff. As the parent of two Ridgefield students, I see firsthand the great work happening daily. I am immensely grateful and proud of the collaborative efforts shown by our staff each day as they work to ensure meaningful, personalized learning experiences and opportunities for each student. If you have not already had the chance to do so, I invite you to join me in sharing your appreciation for their efforts.
The District was recently honored with a pair of recognitions highlighting just some of our team members’ outstanding work. Last week, the Washington State Auditor’s Office presented the Ridgefield School District with the Stewardship Award. This prestigious recognition is issued only to organizations that take great strides in ensuring public accountability and strict adherence to state and federal requirements. Ridgefield is one of just two school districts receiving the award this year. This is an organizational award that would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of many people working together with a shared mission of being good stewards of public resources. While this award belongs to the entire District, I would like to specifically acknowledge and thank Paula McCoy, the District’s Executive Director of Business Services. Paula has established a high bar for the District’s Business Services department, and I am immensely proud of her and the District for receiving this statewide recognition.
Ridgefield is also one of just four school districts in the state this year to receive a Zo8 Award from the Washington State Health Care Authority. Annually, the Health Care Authority honors member employers with the award to highlight the success of employers’ wellness programs. Ridgefield’s Human Resources staff are using the SmartHealth Worksite Wellness Roadmap to implement the award-winning program. In their award announcement, a representative from the Health Care Authority wrote, “with all that was going on in 2020, along with the huge changes to how we work, live, and play, we were very impressed and proud of their work.” I share their sentiment and thank Jodi Fontyn, Kalin Heath, and Terri Cochran for their work establishing a successful wellness program and congratulate them for earning this well-deserved recognition.
As a reminder, enrollment is already underway for the 2021-2022 school year. Families seeking flexible learning options are encouraged to consider Ridgefield’s newest offering, Wisdom Ridge Academy. The new Alternative Learning Experience, or ALE program, opens in the fall of 2021 and will serve students in grades K-12. You can learn more about Wisdom Ridge Academy at www.wisdomridgeacademy.org. Additionally, we are hosting another family information night on Thursday, May 13, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Following a presentation that will highlight the student and family experience, staff will be on-hand to answer individual questions and meet with interested families. Families interested in attending this in-person meeting may sign up here.
At last week’s board of directors meeting, Cowlitz Tribal Chairman Philip Harju presented the District with a check for more than $106,000. The generous donation will help fund the District’s continued pursuit of expanding access to high-quality early learning opportunities, as well as providing educational programming that supports the District’s commitment to the development of the whole child. We are grateful for this donation and the Cowlitz Tribe’s ongoing generosity. We are proud of our strong community partnerships, and it is immensely gratifying to have neighbors who see the value in supporting the students and staff of the Ridgefield community.
I want to make sure I share some important information with you regarding the Emergency Broadband Benefit program. Eligible families can receive $50 per month for broadband service ($75 per month if households are on Tribal lands) and a one-time discount of up to $100 for an internet-connected device. This page outlines household eligibility requirements.
The FCC recently announced that starting on Wednesday, May 12, eligible households will be able to enroll through an approved provider or by visiting https://getemergencybroadband.org. The program is available until it runs out of funds, or six months after Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID public health emergency (whichever is sooner).
Sunday is Mothers’ Day! I extend my wishes for an incredible day to my amazing mom, Mary, the equally extraordinary mom of our two boys, Amanda, and all Ridgefield moms. Thank you for all you do.
Thank you for your continued support of our schools. Stay well and remain #RidgefieldResilient.
Dr. Nathan McCann, Superintendent
Support our local artists and donate money to the Ridgefield Family Resource Center
Under a clear blue spring sky, a group of Ridgefield High School students excitedly left their classroom and headed out to the practice athletic fields. Instead of athletic gear, these students were equipped with something entirely different: remote controls and drones they had built in teacher Steve Rinard’s engineering class.
At the beginning of the semester, Rinard’s students were still attending online classes from home, so they started by learning the science behind how drones operate. When they returned to in-person class a few weeks ago, teams of students were able to work together, using parts from kits to assemble the drones.
Senior Matthew Vance said he greatly enjoyed the process. “The actual physical assembly wasn’t that difficult, but the calibration and technical aspects were a bit more tricky,” Vance said.
After weeks of planning, building, and testing, it was finally launch day, and Rinard and his students couldn’t wait to see how the drones performed. Launch day featured perfect flying conditions with bright sunshine and a light breeze. There were high expectations as the teams readied their drones for flight. Some drones took off quickly into the air, but others needed a little help to get moving. With a few adjustments, more drones lifted skyward, first in fits and starts, then in smoother, gliding flights as the students got more comfortable with the controls.
Vance and his team enjoyed a successful drone launch. On the whole, Vance thought the class did well. “There have been crashes, and broken pieces,” he said, “but flying the drones was a lot of fun!”
“We quickly learned that flying drones is not easy,” Rinard said. “It takes a little patience and a lot of practice to get the hang of it. And of course, it’s definitely helpful to have tools and extra parts on hand.”
Rinard’s inspiration for the new class came after he attended a pair of conferences that featured several offerings on drones. “Once I saw them in action, I felt that it was something we could offer that would really add to a student’s learning,” Rinard said. Not at all deterred by the fact that he had never built or owned a drone himself prior to creating the class, Rinard joked that he “has this curse of always wanting to learn and know more!”
Rinard designed every aspect of the class around building, programming, and flying the drones with the intent of energizing Ridgefield High School’s engineering program. He looks forward to teaching the class again next year so more Ridgefield students can apply their engineering knowledge to hands-on projects.
April 30, 2021
Dear Ridgefield Families,
While we continue to make significant gains in our fight against COVID-19, current activity in Clark County is on the rise. It is possible, even likely, that the case rate will rise above 200 per 100,000 when released this coming Tuesday. This change could lead to Clark County being “rolled back” to a more restrictive phase of the state’s reopening plans. I want you all to know that the Ridgefield School District intends to remain in full in-person learning for all grade levels despite this possible change.
You may be aware that on March 25, OSPI released updated school guidance (K-12 Schools 2020-2021 Guidance). The guidance supports having K-6 grade students remain in full in-person instruction with three feet of social distancing for students, even if the COVID Activity Rate goes above 200. It also recommends that students in grades 7-12 be cohorted or return to six feet of social distancing. Due to the nature of secondary school schedules, cohorting, particularly in the middle of a term, is impractical. Returning to six feet of social distancing for students would require a return to the hybrid learning model.
Some may be asking why we are not returning to hybrid learning in grades 7-12 if the COVID rate exceeds 200 per 100,000. First, please know the District continues to work closely with our public health officials and will monitor and make adjustments as necessary. It is important to note that the state’s metrics are recommendations but not requirements. As Clark County Public Health Officials have indicated on numerous occasions, “School administrators are ultimately responsible for making decisions about education settings and modes.”
Many factors go into deciding on the mode of school operation. Particularly important in our decision is the data indicating that school transmission has not been a factor in the recent uptick in positive cases. The Clark County Public Health Department tracks COVID-19 outbreaks in schools, and to date, there have not been any outbreaks identified in Ridgefield Schools. Our safety protocols and mitigation strategies are working, and I am grateful for the diligence of our students, families, and staff.
We all must continue to do our part and remain vigilant in adhering to COVID safety and prevention precautions. The biggest game-changer is and continues to be vaccinations. The continued increase in community-wide vaccination rates will assist in stabilizing county rates. Recently, vaccinations have opened to all Washingtonians aged 16 and up, and there are now ample opportunities for high school students to get vaccinated. In fact, there is a free vaccination clinic in Woodland on Saturday, May 8. This flyer (available in English and Spanish) has all the details.
In March, Governor Jay Inslee said, “There is now, unfortunately, undeniably a mental healthcare crisis in our state regarding our youth.” While some students persevered and found ways to thrive in a remote environment during the pandemic, we know that many others need our schools to be open for their academic and emotional well-being.
Our goal has always been a safe and sensible return to full in-person learning. Our ability to equitably meet the needs of all our students is dependent on this. Families with students in grades 7-12 who have concerns about remaining in full, in-person learning will have the option to switch to remote learning for the remainder of the school year.
As always, I thank you for your continued support, patience, grace, and understanding. Stay well and remain #RidgefieldResilient.
Dr. Nathan McCann, Superintendent
The fence surrounding the library is gone! Looking in the windows you will see book shelves are in. It’s looking very good. Hurray!