Board considers bringing PreK-2 students back by transitioning to Yellow Stage based on recent viral trends
The school board has scheduled a special board meeting Sept. 29 to review data and make a decision on transitioning to the Yellow Stage of the district’s Roadmap to Reopening Schools based on an update from the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health. If the school board approves the transition to the Yellow Stage, the district will implement their Pk-2nd grade hybrid model for in-person instruction on Oct. 19 as approved by County officials. Communicated with parents prior to the start of school, most students would attend either a morning or afternoon session for face-to-face instruction, and receive their remaining learning remotely in order to comply with strict social distancing guidelines. A limited number of pre-identified students who receive special education, English learners and other remediation supports may be provided a full day experience on a case-by-case basis while in the Yellow Stage.
In a letter to Walla Walla County school administrators sent Sept. 17, Walla Walla County Department of Community Health (DCH) officials reported they have been monitoring COVID-19 disease activity throughout the county. Disease activity, as indicated by new cases/100,000 population over 14 days, has been decreasing over the past month, warranting a new recommendation on hybrid learning.
At this time, the overall Walla Walla County disease activity, and the City of Walla Walla, remain above the WA DOH recommendation, but rates have been steadily dropping throughout the last month. If current trends continue, local health experts project rates across the county will continue to drop below the DOH recommended benchmark by the middle of October. If rates reach 45 cases or less over a two-week period, this will permit WWPS to begin transitioning back their youngest learners as soon as October 19.
“Advancing to the hybrid learning model is not expected to pose a significantly greater risk to staff and students than their current activities,” said Larry Jecha, M.D./MPH Health Officer, Walla Walla County. “A Hybrid mode permits schools to provide in-person instruction at roughly 50% capacity.”
If viral counts permit, and the Board approves transition to the Yellow Stage, the district plans to communicate schedules, bussing and other health-related protocols to Prek-2nd grade families the week of October 5. Once viral conditions dip below 30 cases or less over a two-week period, WWPS would then be in a position to bring back all students under their hybrid-learning plan. More information regarding the district’s Safely Reopening Schools Plan can be found on their website here: https://www.wwps.org/safely-reopening-schools
“These dates allow sufficient time to continue to monitor disease activity through the end of September to ensure that it will not escalate significantly,” said Dr. Jecha. “Strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols, according to state and local guidance, including use of face coverings and physical/social distancing will be necessary to ensure that students and staff are able to return safely.”
Department of Community Health Recommendation (Click Here)