Enrollment is up.
Bainbridge Island School District superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen said at the school board meeting Thursday night that there are 3,546 students this fall, 206 more than predicted.
He said while a small percentage of students continue to take school online more students are returning this fall than did last spring when schools first opened after COVID-19 closures.
However, Bang-Knudsen said the trend of a steady decline in enrollment that started in 2005 continues as numbers are down 168 from 2019.
He said another way to look at it is there are 341 students in the 12th grade this year, and only 195 in kindergarten, the class that will replace them and the smallest in years.
He continues to say the lack of affordable housing on BI keeps families with young children from living here.
Kids going to school are active, with almost 300 turning out for the various fall sports at the high school.
Bang-Knudsen talked quite a bit about COVID, even though he said in-person learning is best for kids, helping them with socialization and mental health.
He said even though COVID rates are higher than they’ve ever been, the district is taking precautions. He said all 100 COVID tests taken at the district’s testing site were negative last week. He added four students are quarantined due to other COVID situations.
He urged everyone to get vaccinated. He said 92 percent of students ages 12-18 have gotten their shots, along with 82% of staff. Gov. Jay Inslee has said staff must be vaccinated by Oct. 15 or face dismissal.
At the district testing site at the district office, staff and students can get a self-administered nose swab from 6:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. If someone tests positive, those in close contact are told to quarantine.
The Kitsap Public Health District decides when an entire class or school needs to be closed. If that happens, it will be treated just like an excused absence. The district wants kids to stay home if they are sick. Students in grades 5-12 already have take-home devices, and K-4 students will be able to get devices if it happens in their grades.
District officials said if you have any symptoms don’t act like it’s nothing; get tested. And if you or a family member test positive be sure to share that information with the school.
During public comments, Stacie Scattergood said students should eat outside, and volunteers should have the same access to the district’s COVID testing site as students and staff.
“Lunch is the weakest link in our mitigation strategy, Caty Kehs said, adding 6 feet apart is not enough when removing the mask to eat. She added that staff should be tested weekly now that it’s known the virus can be transmitted even if you are vaccinated.
Kehs said the big school district in Portland, OR figured out how they all could eat lunch outside. She said she has a senior who is vaccinated and a first-grader who is not, and they don’t want the younger one to bring it home, so there should be “mandatory lunch outside.”
Bang-Knudsen said the district is looking into using tents for just that reason.
Finally, water polo supporters were back again, asking the board to recognize it as a sport instead of a club. They said they are not asking for money or insurance, just recognition so they can play in the state tournament. They said it’s a matter of equity, and that other districts have been able to do it.
But it’s not all bad news for the water polo club. The BI Metro Parks & Recreation District decided to cut its bill in half for use of the Aquatic Center pool from the $12,000 it was going to charge.