||District sets date for middle school return to in-person learning
Following nearly a one-year break from in-person learning amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, middle school students will begin returning to campuses Tuesday, Feb. 16 utilizing the AM/PM hybrid model.
A steady decline in local COVID cases over the past six weeks, according to data provided by the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health, allowed the district to shift to the yellow stage of its reopening plan. Sixth grade students will be on campuses first, beginning Feb. 16, with 7th and 8th grade students returning Thursday, Feb. 18.
“This phased approach will allow our sixth grade students to have two days on campus, without upper grade level students, to get orientated to their new schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. “For many of these students it will be their first time in our middle schools.”
Based on guidance released by Governor Inslee and the Washington State Department of Health, schools are encouraged to reopen for middle school instruction when cases drop below 350 cases per one hundred thousand population over 14 days. That ratio, when applied to the Walla Walla and College Place communities, equates to approximately 200 new cases over a two-week period, the same threshold the Walla Walla School Board and Walla Walla Valley Education Association agreed on to begin returning middle school students back to campus. As of Feb. 1, combined case counts between the two jurisdictions were at the 200 mark.
"This week the district will perform its 3rd party on-site safety audit at each middle school site, address specific staff safety accommodations necessary and begin to communicate safety protocols and schedules to our families," said Superintendent Smith. “We are excited to welcome our middle school students safely back on campus and appreciate the community for helping curb the spread of the virus by wearing masks, social distancing and limiting gatherings.”
The district will continue to closely monitor COVID cases and work with local health officials as it eyes returning high school students to campus once state recommended targets are met. To learn more about the district’s Safely Reopening Plans, please visit the WEBSITE
||NO SCHOOL (TK-5) Feb. 11-12 (TK/Elementary Conferences)
• No School (TK-5 only) – Feb. 11 and 12 (Parent/Teacher conferences)
• TK/Elementary Parent/Teacher Conferences are virtual via ZOOM
• Visit your child’s school website or contact the school secretary to schedule a conference
• Conference Scheduler
Presidents Day Holiday – NO SCHOOL Feb. 15
There is NO SCHOOL Monday, Feb. 15 in observance of Presidents Day. Classes resume Tuesday, Feb. 16.
||National School Counseling Week – Feb. 1-5
National School Counseling Week 2021 (#NSCW21), “School Counselors: All In for All Students,” is Feb. 1-5, 2021, to focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors within U.S. school systems.
School counselors actively engage students to examine their interests, focusing on positive ways to enhance academic and social/emotional development. Join us in recognizing these essential levy-funded staff!
School Counselors Play a Critical Role in Walla Walla Public Schools:
• School counselors are employed to help students reach their full potential.
• School counselors are actively committed to helping students explore their abilities, strengths, interests, and talents as these traits relate to career awareness and development.
• School counselors help parents focus on ways to further the educational, personal and social growth of their children.
• School counselors work with teachers and other educators to help students explore their potential and set realistic goals for themselves.
• School counselors seek to identify and utilize community resources that can enhance and complement comprehensive school counseling programs and help students become productive members of society.
• Comprehensive developmental school counseling programs are considered an integral part of the educational process that enables all students to achieve success in school.
||Personnel Report (from Feb. 2, 2021 school board meeting)
Maricela Villagomez Lopez, Bilingual Para Educator (Temporary), WWCCF
Martin Fortney, 21st Century Site Director, Pioneer, 6.5 years
Sean Tavakoli, Campus Security, Pioneer, 3 years
Jennifer Warner, Para-Educator, Green Park, 6 years
LEAVE OF ABSENCE
Sandy Leos, Para-Educator, Edison, 7 years
• For the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.
District outlines budgeting process
Tuesday night School Board President Derek Sarley and Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith shared the outline for the 2021-2022 school year budget development process. Budget planning discussions will begin at the next school board meeting and continue through the summer. Planning considerations for next school year’s budget will weigh heavily on revenue loss as a result of the pandemic. Enrollment declines this school year resulted in a $3M revenue loss. Board members will approve a budget August 17.
||Dates set for Highly Capable Review Process
Walla Walla Public Schools announces dates for the K-8 Highly Capable Program referral process. Parents are asked to talk with their child’s teacher(s), the building learning specialist or counselor if you have questions about participating in the referral process.
• Grades 2 and 5: March 1-5
• Grades 6-8: March 1-5
• Grades 3 and 4: March 15-19
• Grades K and 1: April 12-16
“We test all 2nd and 5th grade students to ensure equitable access to programming and to provide enough information to locally examine our data,” said Christy Krutulis, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning. “For other grades, parent permission to test is required and included in the referral packets posted on the district website.”
Look for information about specific testing details released from your child’s school as the dates get closer.
• Website: www.wwps.org/programs/explorers
• NOTE: Paper copies are also available by contacting the school secretary.
||February is Black History Month
Walla Walla Public Schools joins countries across the globe in recognizing February as Black History Month. The Black History Month 2021 theme, “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity” explores the African diaspora, and the spread of Black families across the United States.
Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. See more on the HISTORY CHANNEL
||Middle School principals release Welcome Back to School videos
Walla Walla Public Schools will transition middle school students back to school for AM/PM in-person learning. Sixth grade students return Tuesday, Feb. 16 with 7th and 8th grade students coming back to school Thursday, Feb. 18. Pioneer Middle School Principal Kris Duncan and Garrison Middle School Principal Kim Doepker released videos this week with important back to school information. Please take a few minutes to watch these helpful videos.
• Pioneer MS Video
• Garrison MS Video
||Garrison Middle School to offer Virtual Drama Club
Beginning Monday, Feb. 8, Garrison Middle School will be offering virtual Drama Club after school Mondays and Thursdays from 3-4 pm. Kids will play virtual theater games for a month and then auditions will be held for two 30-minute radio show mysteries. Performances will be at the end of May.
Garrison Drama Club is open to all Garrison students in grades 6, 7, and 8. For questions or more information, please contact Beth Clearman at firstname.lastname@example.org
||Sign Up for (TK-Elementary) Parent/Teacher Conferences
Winter Parent/Teacher conferences for transitional kindergarten and elementary students will continue to be virtual via ZOOM. Winter conferences will be held the week of February 8-12. There is no school Thursday, February 11 and Friday, February 12.
Click on the WWPS online conference scheduler and sign-up for a time to meet with your child’s teacher. Links to the scheduler are also on the district website and each school’s homepage.
Conference Scheduler Link: https://www.wwps.org/conferences
A how-to video on signing up for conferences is also on our website.
• (English) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CldCO8bTbBE
• (Spanish) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIfvm2h1YSw
If you have any trouble signing up, please contact your child’s school secretary for assistance.
||Walla Walla High School’s Girls League organizes Tampon Drive
Walla Walla High School’s Girls League is organizing a Tampon Drive and is seeking community support. Community members are asked to buy and donate tampons, pads, overnight pads, and panty liners.
“Girls League recognized that menstrual products are essentials, but can be a financial burden for some,” said Girls Club officer Sadie Robinson. “We noticed a greater need in the community during the COVID-19 recession and decided to expand this year’s tampon drive to gather more products for local non-profits and shelters.”
Donation boxes will be located in front of Wa-Hi’s main office, Quirk Brewing, Grocery Outlet and The Market by Andy’s. The drive is February 8-22. All the products raised by the community will be donated to the YWCA, the Sleep Center of Walla Walla, Children’s Home Society, and Blue Mountain Action Council. Girls League officers Sadie Robinson, Ella Nelson, Olivia Taylor, Miki Joshua, Sophia Schonder, and Jacob Rose are organizing the project.
||Blue Zones project seeks community input
Walla Walla Valley is now home to the first Blue Zones Project in Washington State; a research-based program that promotes community wide health and vibrancy. The program’s initiatives and goals promote the health and wellbeing of community members. Part of Blue Zone’s preliminary work is to encourage as many people in the community to complete an individual health assessment, referred to as the “RealAge Test.” It takes about 15 minutes to complete. Results are confidential and follow all HIPPA regulations. At the end of the survey, participants will see how their lifestyle choices are causing their body to age. It also provides tips on how to improve individual health and well-being.
If you are interested in participating, you can access the test through the following link:
||Walla Walla Parks and Recreation Update
• Youth Fencing – Beginning Classes for ages 8-18. Cost is $60. Starts February 6. Equipment provided.
• Adult Fencing – Classes for ages 18 and up. Cost is $75. Starts February 6. Equipment provided.
• Ukulele Class Ages 12 and up. Cost is $65. Starts February 8.
• Spring Soccer – Grades K-8. Cost is $40-$70. Starts March 1.
• Spring Flag Football – Grades 2-8. Cost is $70. Starts March 1.
• Pee Wee Multisport Series – Ages 3-5 years. Cost is $65. Starts March 8.
• Veterans Memorial Pool Passes – February prices Youth/Senior/Veteran $60 Adult $70 Family $150. Prices will increase on March 1.
NEW – Parks and Recreation App! Download it from your App/Google Play Store - Walla Walla Parks and Rec!
In need of financial assistance to help with youth program costs? We have simplified the youth scholarship application process for 2021, thanks to private community donations we are able to help with 75% of the program cost! Call 527-4527 or email email@example.com us to request a scholarship for your child(ren). The only requirement is that you establish an online account so that we have a place to apply the scholarship. Please visit our website at www.wwpr.us for updated information regarding recreation programs as it becomes available. If you have questions, feel free to contact the Parks & Recreation Office at 509-527-4527, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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