Snohomish School District talks Critical Race Theory, masks
SNOHOMISH — During an Aug. 4 community meeting, the Snohomish School District discussed what to expect when students return in the fall concerning Critical Race Theory, sex education, masks and vaccinations.
The school district backed previous statements made by the school board earlier this summer and had an open discussion with parents about their concerns.
The fast takeaway for the Snohomish School District this fall
• Critical Race Theory is not being taught to students.
• The sex-ed curriculum has not changed. Parents can choose to have their child opt-out.
• LGBTQ studies are not a
part of the sex-ed curriculum.
• COVID-19 vaccinations are not required for students to return to school.
• COVID-19 vaccinations are not required by state or school district employees to work.
• Medical and religious exemptions are available to parents for mandated vaccinations.
• Masks will be required indoors but are optional outdoors.
• Students will not be able to have a 6-foot social distance during lunch.
Masks and lunchtime distancing
Although vaccination decisions are in the domain of parents and legal guardians, masks are not.
Snohomish School District superintendent Kent Kultgen explained that the district requires students and staff to wear masks indoors because of a state mandate. However, masks will be optional while outdoors, regardless of vaccination status.
School districts and school boards that do not follow the state restrictions will face penalties. Kultgen read from a July 29 memo from the state Office of Superintendent of Public Education (OSPI).
In the memo, OSPI superintendent Chris Reykdal wrote: “School boards or districts that intentionally dismiss, disobey or shun an explicit law including the governor’s executive order, that has the power of law, will see an immediate halt to their basic education funding and their federal funds that go through OSPI.” Reykdal also stated that the decisions are not in the hands of local districts or school boards.
The OSPI memo also says schools must offer the option of in-class education or have their funding cut.
Snohomish schools will not observe a six-foot social distance during lunch periods, but will distance the best they can and mitigate it. It cannot give six-foot distances because of how many students are returning to campus.
Snohomish Deputy Superintendent Shawn Stevenson said, “(Last year), we had roughly about half the students on campus, and we were required to have kids about six feet apart when at lunch. One of the things we know this year is we have to provide an opportunity for every kid to be on campus that wants an in-person education. We also know we can’t have 20 lunches during the day.”
The curriculum for sex-ed was covered by the district’s Executive Director of Teaching and Learning, Monica Bauer. Bauer explained that they do not provide sexual health content for kindergarten through fourth grade. In place, they provide social-emotional learning and consent education.
“The State calls it sexual health because it does talk about body parts, and it does talk about making sure children know what consent is and that they can say no to inappropriate touching,” Bauer said.
She said the curriculum for grades 7-9 focuses on the reproductive system, sexually transmitted diseases, gestation cycles and childbirth. It covers the topic of identity in eighth grade.
Parents of children in all grades can opt-out of sex-ed, Bauer said. “We are very aware that not every family wants to participate.”
Critical Race Theory
The school district reaffirmed that they are not teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT) to students. Snohomish School District superintendent Kent Kultgen stated in a communication, “The Snohomish School District does not have a Critical Race Theory (CRT) curriculum or class, nor does the state mandate we do so.”
At the meeting, William Johnson, Director of Equity and Inclusion for the Snohomish School District, described what they teach. He said, “We’re focusing on school-wide culture, we’re focusing on skills for learning, focusing on empathy and emotion management, problem-solving skills and friendship skills.”
Johnson explained “Our current focus is not CRT. We are not using CRT in the classroom; it is not a school curriculum.” He continued, “there are things being taught that people will say are connected to CRT, so when we talk about the accurate teaching of history or the things that have lead to types of discrimination or by the formation of policies we are teaching, and we will be supporting our staff in those things, but yet it is still not the CRT framework as some have questioned about.”
At this meeting, the district hosted a panel of guests that included Liv Finne, director of the Center for Education of the Washington Policy Center, Tabitha Bay, president of Snohomish for Equity and concerned parents David Frati and Katherine Fawcett.
Finne, director of the Center for Education of the Washington Policy Center, a thinktank focused on free-market-based solutions, explained a concern of how teaching CRT could impact students, and called on the district to have better transparency by posting all the curriculum and resources being used.
Finne said “Critical Race Theory teaches that our society is racist and white children are racist. This is not something we should have in our public schools.” She wants all of the resources available for the public to see and claimed that a workbook called Let’s Talk is “full-on CRT teaching” of white bias training and that parents are afraid their white children will be blamed for the injustices of the past.
Baty, president of Snohomish for Equity and a mother of two biracial children, voiced concern that uncomfortable aspects of U.S. history would be called “CRT” and brushed aside.
On the web
For more information on Snohomish School District’s health education, go to www.sno.wednet.edu/healtheducation
For more information on Snohomish School District’s COVID-19 policies, go to www.sno.wednet.edu/ssdschools
Calling all Snohomians
Who’s the oldest Snohomish Panther still around? Maybe it’s your relative? Maybe it’s you? The Tribune wants to find out. Tell us who you think it is: write to P.O. Box 499, Snohomish, WA 98291, email to firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 360-568-4121.
Watch for the Jan. 25 Tribune to
see some recognitions.
Check out our online publications!