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    Juneau's Journal November 22
    Posted on 11/22/2019

    Ensuring our Students are Safe and Healthy

    Read the Video Transcript

    Juneau’s Journal November 22, 2019

    Denise Juneau: Hi, I’m Superintendent Denise Juneau. At Seattle Public Schools, our top priority is keeping our students safe and healthy. And making sure students are up-to-date on their vaccines is a key part of maintaining a healthy school community.

    Earlier this year, the Washington State Legislature changed the state immunization requirements. Families will no longer be able to provide a personal or philosophical exemption for the MMR vaccination.

    This new law requires us to make sure all students provide proof of vaccination — or a religious or medical exemption — by January 8, to remain in school.

    I want to thank our school nurses and staff who have been working hard to get this information out to our families and helping to make sure all our students have their immunizations records updated by the January 8 deadline. You can learn more about immunization requirements on our website. [Read more about immunization requirements.]

    Speaking of the health and safety of students, you may have heard that Seattle Public Schools has filed a lawsuit against Juul, the electronic cigarette company.

    Vaping has reached epidemic proportions among teenagers due to the targeted marketing of Juul and other e-cigarette companies. Seattle Public Schools will not sit by while our students suffer the effects of being targeted by Juul.

    And, to be clear, our school district is not spending dollars to pay a law firm in this suit – an outside firm is doing this work on a contingency basis meaning that any legal fees would come from a percentage of what SPS may recover. Should we win or settle this case, we could receive funds to educate our students about the dangers of vaping, addiction treatment and counseling, and provide some other measures to address the vaping epidemic in our schools.

    One of our initiatives this year is to create safe and welcoming environments, and I get to see first-hand this work happening in so many of our schools. Last week, I joined a group of scholars at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary who were working with staff on supporting social and emotional wellness.

    Students shared their personal experiences about self-awareness and self-management over the school’s intercom. I was inspired by these brave students who had conquered their fears and shared their stories to help make their school a more inclusive, welcoming place. One student, Dominck, told me that once he had finished sharing his story, he felt like the president as staff and peers cheered him on.

    As we work to implement Seattle Excellence, our five-year strategic plan, we cannot forget the important role our students play in transforming our school communities. It’s our job to empower our students and work with them to realize educational justice in our district. Finally, I want to say thank you to our Education Support Professionals and Substitute Educators who were honored this last week. Thank you to all the hard-working staff that work each day to ensure ALL our students thrive.

    And you know I love a good corny joke, so why are fish so smart? Because they stay in schools!