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  Spring 2020 at The Outdoor Classroom:  The Forest Ecosystem

RE: COVID-19 — Updated March 16, 2020:

On March 12, Governor Inslee announced that all public, private and charter schools in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties will be closed beginning March 16th through at least April 24th due to the novel Coronavirus. South Whidbey School District has announced it will also close school buildings during that time (see SWSD’s message here). As the Maxwelton Outdoor Classroom is a South Whidbey School District facility, we will close our doors during this time.

Unfortunately the vast majority of our lesson planning and volunteer training takes place between now and mid April, so although many of our planned field trips would occur post April 24, we currently anticipate that we will not be able to provide our normal Outdoor Classroom field trip opportunities to school groups this Spring.

Our organization is brainstorming potential opportunities that we could offer IF schools reopen beginning on April 27. If any reasonable options stand out, we will reach back out to schools with those options. Thank you so much for your interest in Whidbey Watershed Stewards’ Spring programming at the Maxwelton Outdoor Classroom. We sincerely hope to see you in a future season, and in the meantime we wish you good health, and that you seize this opportunity to slow down and connect with family and (virtually) with friends. Stay home and wash your hands! 

Bring a class or group of ten or more 1st-5th grade students to the Outdoor Classroom this Spring to learn more about the Forest Ecosystem! Contact Amy.whidbeywatersheds@gmail.com for more information.

The spring season runs from approximately April 21 – June 5 on weekday mornings excluding Mondays. A day at the Classroom typically begins around 10am for your students. There are two environmental education activities in the morning, followed by a 20 minute lunch break, and two more activities in the afternoon. We wrap up so that your students can catch the bus by 1:15 pm. Timing is flexible for groups traveling from off-island. 

The majority of our environmental education activities take place outdoors, on the trails of our nature preserve property. Typically one of our four daily activities takes place inside the classroom itself.  

Classes are filled first come first serve. For schools or groups outside of South Whidbey School District, there is a $5 fee per student to help cover our program costs. Please email Amy for availability and to sign your classroom up for a day of lessons!

NOTE ABOUT COVID-19/CORONAVIRUS: (Updated March 11, 2020)

The coronavirus COVID-19 is extremely prevalent in the news right now. We appreciate your cooperation as we navigate through this time by being vigilant in the recommended guidelines below. Our program will continue to operate as long as schools stay open – we will be following the protocols of the South Whidbey School District on school closures and field trips, as well as abiding by any State or County directives about social distancing and events. 

At this time, we are attempting to protect all staff, volunteers, and student visitors by following these guidelines:

  • Stay home when you are sick. Please do not attend our training events or teaching days if you are sick, or have been in close contact with someone who is sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Guidelines we will be following at the Outdoor Classroom: 

• Staff will stay away from the Classroom if they have even the slightest symptoms of illness or fever or have been in close contact with someone with these symptoms.
• We ask that you also stay away from the Classroom if you have symptoms of illness or fever or are caring for others who have these symptoms.
• We will be adding extra hand sanitizer dispensers in the Classroom to be available for visitors and volunteers.
• Extra attention will be taken to sanitize more often all common surfaces at the Classroom.

We will keep you updated if the Outdoor Classroom experiences any additional changes regarding the spread of COVID-19.

Reminders for classroom teachers: 

Chaperones: All grades need at least two chaperones so that each small group has one chaperone in attendance. We welcome all adults who would like to attend.

Contact Information: Outdoor Classroom Coordinator, Amy McInerney. Amy.WhidbeyWatersheds@gmail.com. Outdoor Classroom Office:  360-579-1272.  Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 617, Langley, WA 98260. Physical Address: 7015 Maxwelton Rd, Clinton, 98236

Groups: We have four stations through which students rotate. Visiting groups need to be divided into four groups total (if you have two classes coming from your school, each needs to be split in half for four groups total).

What to Bring: It is always cooler here, so encourage kids to dress in layers. On rainy days, please send students with rain coats and boots if possible. Please have students wear strung/hanging name tags (no stickers, please!) that are legible for our Volunteer Instructors to read all day.

Lunch: Students should bring packed lunches that do not require a microwave or stove. We do not have garbage service so we ask that students take their garbage back to school or home with them.

Read below for this season’s Curriculum Descriptions, along with applicable NGSS education standards:

Spring 2020: “The Forest Ecosystem” – Descriptions coming soon

  • K-2: Watershed Model
  • 3-5: We All Live Downstream
  • K-2: Aquatic Macro Invertebrates at the Stream
  • 3-5: Fresh Water Findings
  • All Grades: Macro Indicator Game
  • All Grades: How Native Plants Help