Dear Friends, 

Yesterday morning, the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) released their “Reopening Washington Schools 2020 District Planning Guide,” a comprehensive walkthrough of how we will be able to safely reopen our schools this fall, and allow our children to return to their friends, their classmates, and their teachers. Watch Superintendent Reykda’s media availability here

It has been an incredibly difficult three months for everyone, adults included. Yet I feel that no one has been impacted greater than our children. They were suddenly cut off from their social lives and their sports, their day to day routines and all their extra curricular activities. Getting to a place where they might return to some sort of normalcy has always been a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I am grateful to everyone who has worked so hard to make that a reality.

OPSI worked with the Department of Health guidelines and formed the Reopening Washington School Workgroup – made up of more than 120 education professionals – who worked with educators, education leaders, policymakers, parents, students, and community-based organizations to create this plan.

There are levels to the plan, but all districts will be eligible to reopen their schools this fall (counties in Phases 1 or 1.5 must receive approval to reopen from their local health authority). There are three different pathways that districts can utilize if face-to-face learning is limited in the fall:

  1. Split or rotating schedules with distance learning,
  2. Phased-in opening with continuous learning, and
  3. Continuous learning 2.0, a more effective remote learning system.

This is an incredible step forward as we move through the “Safe Start” plan and reopen our State. We should all be excited and hopeful for our students and children, as our work to support them today builds a foundation for generations to come.

I look forward to doing everything I can to help ensure the 40th LD is ready to open our school doors this fall and welcome our children back.

Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday.

“Stay Safe, Stay Healthy” 
Rep. Debra Lekanoff

Rare Fish Returning Home 

Last week we talked about a pod of Orcas visiting Bellingham Bay, and I am still in awe at how Mother Earth has taken a great deep breath as we socially distance and stay inside. Each day we see animals enjoying their space and returning to their homes as we leave them be.

Just this week, the King-of-the-salmon was found near Port Angeles in yet another example of Mother Earth bringing her creations home.

The Makah people believe that the King-of-the-salmon, who are incredibly rare and can grow to be more than four feet in length, lead the rest of the salmon home to spawn each year. Catching or consuming the fish can stop the salmon run in its tracks.

It is so great to see this majestic creature make a rare appearance, and I take it as a sign that we are traveling in the right direction and are well on our way to being back home.

Weekly Trivia! 

Though it’s called King-of-the-salmon, the beautiful fish is not a member of the salmon species.

What family is it actually a part of?

Standing Together and Making Change

These are difficult and important times for so many of our brothers and sisters. The pain and weight of systemic racism has taken many of our loved ones too soon, and as a Native woman I stand with the black community and proudly say again that Black Lives Matter.

I wanted to share this incredible image from Alison Bremner (Caffeinated Raven), a fellow Tlingit, and send my love to all those who need it today, and all those who may need it tomorrow.

At its core, this is not a political issue. This is a people standing up, demanding their voices be heard and their lives be respected. I am proud to be among the many, many people supporting this cause, and I will always fight for equality and justice above all else.

We all stand together, and together we will make change.

BLACK LIVES MATTER. Sending so much strength and love to our black relatives.”

Alison Bremner is a Tlingit artist born and raised in Southeast Alaska.

Bremner is believed to be the first Tlingit woman to carve and raise a totem pole. She has studied under master artists David R. Boxley and David A. Boxley.

Her work is included in the permanent collections of, among others, the Burke Museum, Seattle; Portland Art Museum, Oregon; Château Musée Boulogne-sur-Mer, France; Frye Art Museum, Seattle; and the British Museum in London.

Congratulations to Our Graduates! 

Our amazing and wonderful youth across the 40th are coming together with their families, loved ones, and classmates to celebrate a milestone in their lives.  

We are adapting to major changes in our way of life, hearing the voices of equality, and finding a balance within ourselves. We are living through a monumental time in history, and through our celebrations and our fears we should take a step back and be grateful for our loved ones beside us. 

To our graduates – embrace this time, know that you are part of that deep breath of life, and each of you have a purpose, each of you are loved, and each of you have incredible strength and courage.

My messages to each of you is to remember that we are all chosen to be in this historical moment together. The world around us is moving fast, and I want you to join me in taking a deep breath with Mother Earth to absorb this moment that will build our future.

Be courageous, graduates, take your time as you come to the place that will lift you up and create the next layer in life.

Congratulations to Myron Johnson for graduating from Anacortes Middle School to Anacortes High School. After successfully ending a year under the new COVID distance learning, Myron spent his time exploring his young engineering robotics and advancing his skills in art.

Congratulations to Zoe Brunson! Zoe Brunson graduated from Washington State University with a Masters in Teaching with Endorsement in Special Education. Zoe walks in the shoes of future educators and will be a leader in advancing education under today’s transition of long distance learning. She will bring our past and present together to build a future. 

Congratulations Aida Sky Bowen, graduate of Mt. Vernon High School. Aida graduates as an Outstanding Vocal Student, All-State Soprano, Bel Canto Director, Soprano Section Leader, Peer Educator and lobbyist for Teen Council. Aida is a powerful young lady who carries many of the voices who are unheard in both her talent and advocacy. She plans to carry on her artistic career at the Western Washington University where she will study Vocal Performing Arts.

Congratulations to all graduates in the 40th LD, Washington State, and across the country! You have accomplished something great, and I know in my heart this is just the first of many incredible contributions you will make to the world.

Phase 2 in the 40th LD

Counties across the state continue to move forward in under the “Safe Start” program of reopening our businesses and economy. As we discussed last week, San Juan, Whatcom, and Skagit counties have all moved into Phase 2!

It’s important that we remain vigilant and maintain social distancing practices like staying six feet apart from one another outside of our homes, wearing cloth face coverings in public, and consistently washing our hands. Phase 2 does provide a number of new opportunities, and allows businesses to reopen after ensuring additional safety precautions are in place.

Phase 2 allows for the following:

  • Small social gatherings – inside or outside – are allowed as long as you don’t see more than 5 people in a week who you don’t live with.
  • Outdoor recreation like camping is allowed as long as it involves 5 or fewer people from outside your household. (Check with campgrounds and recreation facilities for any additional rules and restrictions.)
  • More businesses and services can reopen with restrictions, including remaining manufacturing and construction activity, domestic services such as nannies and house cleaners, retail stores, real estate services, professional services, nail salons, barbers, and pet grooming.
  • Restaurants can open at 50% capacity, but without bar seating.

Counties must remain in Phase 2 – that is, maintain current COVID-19 rates – for at least three weeks in order to move into Phase 3.

It is no accident that we are consistently moving forward here in the 40th LD. Through our communities caring about our communities we have curbed the spread of COVID-19 and helped one another. Thank you for all your sacrifice and all that you have done for the good of us all!

Thank You Governor Inslee 

I have had the pleasure of knowing Governor Inslee for many years, and his compassion and love of Washington State is evident in the decisions he makes every day. He is always driven by a strong desire to help Washingtonians, and to improve lives wherever and however he can.

Thank you Jay and Trudy for being courageous during this time of crisis. Your leadership has kept us on a steady course to recovery, and helped so many people as we work to address COVID-19 together.

Washington State Democrats Virtual Convention 

Though I wish it could be done in person and I could meet and speak with so many of you, the Washington State Democrats Convention will be entirely virtual this year.

Tomorrow, June 13th, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. all State Convention delegates will vote on our State Party’s platform and elect our delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to speak, and I’m looking forward to doing my part in shaping the vision we all share for our state, and for our country. This is always a tremendous opportunity to sit down at the kitchen table and really dive deep into our goals and our beliefs.

We are coming up on a pivotal election in our country, and the months leading up to November are so very important. Setting our foundation as a party, and simply as a group of people who believe in shared goals and common ideas, is incredibly important.

Seattle Splash!

Though their doors have been closed since March 12, the Seattle Aquarium has continued to provide incredible resources for everyone to enjoy – including a live sea otter cam!

Every summer, the aquarium gathers in the first Friday of June for Splash!, an incredible gathering that celebrates their mission of “Inspiring Conservation of Our Marine Environment,” and raising funds for their continued mission of protecting our critical and beautiful ecosystems.

Looking out over the Salish Sea, I am constantly humbled and reminded how important our marine environment is, and how much it means to Washingtonians up and down the coast and across the state. Supporting the aquarium and their mission helps provide education to our children, lifts up an incredible resource for visitors and residents alike, and helps protect our oceans and seas.

While Splash! could not happen on time and in person this year, the Seattle Aquarium has rescheduled to a virtual event instead! I’ll share more information as it becomes available, but the virtual Splash! is currently scheduled for September 25!

In the meantime, check out the Seattle Aquarium website to support and engage with their staff who remain hard at work!

Endorsement Shout-Outs!

Each week when it comes to the endorsement shout outs, I want to (virtually) reach out and (virtually) hug each and every one of you who have endorsed me re-election campaign! The love I have felt on this journey is uplifting and humbling. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your continued support.

Thank you to SEIU 1199 NW, SEIU 775 Quality Care Committee, and SEIU 925. Your continued work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has provided stability to our communities, and kept us running through incredibly tough times. We are all eternally grateful for your continued hard work.

Thank you to the Lummi Indian Business Council for supporting my campaign, thank you to the Mt. Baker Washington Chapter of the Sierra Club for always pushing to preserve Mother Earth’s beauty, and thank you to the Washington Education Association PAC for all of your work lifting up our teachers.

Individual endorsements are an incredibly important part of my campaign. You can put your name next to mine and support my re-election by heading over to my website and filling out this form. These endorsements mean so much to me – they show that this is a campaign focused on people, and I would be honored to have your name added along with mine.

Trivia Answer!

The King-of-the-salmon is a part of the ribbon fish family!