||District sets March dates for high school return to in-person learning
Following nearly a one-year break from in-person learning amidst the COVID pandemic, high school students will begin returning to campuses Monday, March 8 utilizing the AM/PM hybrid model.
A significant decline in local COVID cases over the past two months according to data provided by the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health allowed the district to shift to the green stage of its reopening plan. Ninth grade students will be on campuses first, beginning Monday, March 8, with 10th-12th grade students returning Wednesday, March 10.
“This phased approach will allow our ninth 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 high schools.”
Based on guidance released by Governor Inslee and the Washington State Department of Health, schools are encouraged to reopen for high school instruction when cases drop below 200 per one hundred thousand population over 14 days. That ratio, when applied to the Walla Walla and College Place communities, equates to approximately 115 new cases over a two-week period to enter the green stage, the same threshold the Walla Walla School Board and Walla Walla Valley Education Association agreed on to begin returning high school students back to campus. As of Feb. 22, combined case counts between the two jurisdictions were at the 110 mark and falling.
The district recently performed a 3rd party on-site safety audit at each secondary school site. The audit concluded the district had the safety protocols and processes in place to safely return to AM/PM hybrid in-person learning.
“This week we’ll begin addressing 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 high 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 monitor COVID cases closely and work with local health officials to continue keeping schools safe. To learn more about the district’s Safely Reopening Plans, please visit https://www.wwps.org/
||Walla Walla Public Schools accepted to WA State Learn to Return COVID testing program
Walla Walla Public Schools will have access to free COVID-19 testing services for students and staff as part of the new Learn to Return partnership with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and Health Commons. Test supplies and support are provided at no cost to the school district. Rapid results provide results within 15 minutes utilizing a self-administered, shallow nasal swab test. Additionally, the district will have access to a non-invasive saliva based PCR test, considered the “gold standard,” receiving results typically within 48 hours.
“Testing is one critical element of an effective COVID response, allowing positive cases to be identified, isolated, and contact-traced,” said WWPS Director of Health Services Amy Ruff. “Everyone should be able to access a same-day test when needed, with a quick turnaround time, enabling prompt action to be taken.”
Ruff said there is tremendous value of testing within schools. “Offering testing to students and staff can give insights into virus prevalence in the school community, reduce anxiety of returning staff and students, and bolster community access so nobody is quarantined at home unnecessarily simply because they are unable to access a test.”
“Combined with other mitigation strategies, like practicing six feet of physical distancing, using face coverings, keeping students in smaller cohorts, maximizing/improving ventilation, and practicing good hygiene and disinfection habits, testing in schools will help build confidence in safer in-person learning,” said Ruff. “Our testing program will dramatically decrease the risk to our learning community and supports our ability to continue serving students in person.”
The Learn to Return program provides free access to tests for three primary purposes:
1. A same-day diagnostic test for staff or students with symptoms or possible exposure.
2. Access to diagnostic PCR testing, considered to be the “gold standard” for COVID identification.
3. Regular voluntary testing for school staff.
Walla Walla Public Schools plans to roll out its testing program by early March. Consent for testing will be required for all students, and will be available online and at each school.
Health Director reminds parents not to send ill children to school
“Bringing students safely back to in-person learning has been so exciting,” said District Health Director Amy Ruff. “As a reminder, per the signed attestation that each student submitted, students should NEVER be sent to school if ANYONE at home is ill, has been exposed to COVID, or is awaiting COVID test results. Ensuring this happens enables our schools to safely open our doors. If you have any questions whether or not your student should stay at home, please call your student’s school and speak with a member of the health staff. They can best advise you.”
||School Board Regular Study Meeting
• Tuesday, March 2 (virtual via ZOOM)
• 5:30 p.m.
• Meeting open to the public
• IMPORTANT MEETING NOTICE: Pursuant to the Governor’s revised guidance on February 1, 2021, school board meetings during the COVID-19 disease outbreak must take place remotely when in Phase 1. Under Phase 2, school board meetings may be held in person, but are required to implement strict capacity limitations among other protocols. The school board has elected to continue to hold board meetings remotely at this time to maximize the opportunity for public participation. Members of the public are invited to attend by utilizing the following methods:
• Watch: https://wwps-org.zoom.us/j/91904993946
• Listen: Dial 1-253-215-8782 and enter the Webinar ID: 919 0499 3946
• Subtítulos en español: https://wwps-org.zoom.us/j/91904993946 (Seleccione “Live Translation” en el menú inferior).
• Agenda española: https://www.wwps.org/district/information/school-board/board-meeting-schedule
||NO SCHOOL for Middle School and High School – March 11-12 (Conferences)
There is NO SCHOOL Thursday, March 11 and Friday, March 12 for middle and high school Parent/Teacher conferences. All conferences will be virtual using Zoom. Parents are encouraged to visit the district or their child’s school website to schedule a conference online beginning Wednesday, March 3. Please contact the school secretary for additional information or support scheduling a conference.
||Blue Devil Northwest brings live streaming services to varsity sports
Walla Walla Public Schools announces its new online sports live streaming network Blue Devil Northwest (BDNW). Walla Walla High School varsity sports will be live streamed on YouTube this school year in large part due to strict state regulations for limiting spectators. BDNW is managed by the 21st Century Afterschool Program and utilizes students to operate cameras, control board operations, graphics and serve as broadcasters.
“This year COVID-19 has created a need for Wa-Hi Sports to become even more accessible online,” said Andrew Sayers, Blue Devil Northwest advisor. “We will not be able to have many family members, colleagues, and community members attendance during events so our online broadcast has become essential to engaging our community.”
Sayers has been busy training students, updating equipment and organizing coverage to broadcast all varsity competitions.
“This program will create opportunities to showcase our student-athletes and provide job experience for students,” said Sayers. “This is a great opportunity for fans to live stream Wa-Hi Sports on their phone, computer, or television via YouTube.”
Visit the Walla Walla High School Athletics webpage for links to live stream broadcasts. https://wallawallaathletics.com/
||We Are Wa-Hi event March 2
Wa-Hi is inviting current 8th-11th grade students and families to participate in a virtual pre-registration event, We Are Wa-Hi on Tuesday, March 2 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. online at wahi.link/wearewahi.
This is a great opportunity for new families to learn more about the WaHi experience, credits, classes, graduation pathways, SEATech programs, how registration will work for 8th graders, and more!
Returning families and students will be able to learn about next year’s grade level expectations, how to ensure students have the credits needed to graduate, and explore classes and extra-curricular options they might find interesting and want to try. Informational videos for each department are available at wahi.link/wearewahi for viewing prior to and after the event. Please join us any time between 6:00-7:30 p.m. to learn more about WaHi and meet our staff.
||Family Engagement and Support Program announces kindergarten and parent events
Family Engagement Coordinator Pam Clayton has been busy planning kindergarten information events and parenting support programs. Click on the links below to learn more. Contact Pam for additional details: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Kindergarten Roundup: https://www.facebook.com/wwfamiliesandschools/posts/1312801192435654
• ParentCamp Update: https://www.facebook.com/parentcampww/posts/1280868572292228
• Ready for Kindergarten Play with a Purpose:
||Wa-Hi plans Job Fair
Walla Walla High School is planning a virtual Job Fair Tuesday, March 23 at 1 p.m. on Zoom. Sign up to participate: wahi.link/jobfair.
||Walla Walla Valley Youth Football League
Come join us for our spring season. Last year took us all for a ride and we ended up having to cancel our season. For those of you who signed up and asked for a credit or did not receive a refund, we will be crediting your fees for this season. You can signed up online at;
Please feel free to reach out to us via facebook at Walla Walla Valley Youth Football League or via email at email@example.com.
||Walla Walla Parks and Recreation Update
• St Paddy’s Day Dash Virtual Race – Open to ages 5 and up. Cost is $25.
• T’ai Chi – Classes open to Ages 12 and up. Cost is $48.
• Youth Fencing – Beginning Classes for ages 8-18. Cost is $60. Equipment provided.
• Adult Fencing – Classes for ages 18 and up. Cost is $75. Equipment provided.
• Ukulele Class Ages 12 and up. Cost is $65.
• Spring Soccer – Grades K-8. Cost is $40-$70.
• Spring Flag Football – Grades 2-8. Cost is $70.
• Pee Wee Multisport Series – Ages 3-5 years. Cost is $65.
• 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 Store/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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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