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School Board targets October 26 return to school for its youngest learners 

Last night, Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors instructed Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith to make preparations to transition to its Yellow Stage Monday, October 26 which allows preschool to 2nd grade students to return for in-person instruction through the AM/PM hybrid model.  

During the hour-long discussion, school board members reviewed case counts released from the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health identifying Walla Walla Public Schools has met the state's 75 case/100K threshold to safely pivot to in-person instruction.

In addition, they reviewed provisions outlined in the district’s Roadmap to Safely Reopening Schools plan required to support the transition, including low community hospitalization rates, decreasing test positivity rates, and the district's successful ability to control viral conditions in its schools. The district has developed a public COVID dashboard identifying student/staff transmission instances by campus for another layer of safety and transparency. Walla Walla Public Schools has also developed a comprehensive COVID-19 Safety Plan following safety guidelines and protocols framed by CDC guidance, Washington State Department of Health recommendations, and input from local health advisers.

“In accordance with provisions in our Memorandum of Understanding with the Walla Walla Valley Education Association, the School Board instructed Superintendent Smith to consult with union leadership over the coming days to review the case count data, in addition to plans and provisions necessary to support staff and student safety,” said Board President Sam Wells. “While the district technically could transition as early as Oct. 19, the Board chose a more cautious approach that provides the district additional time to monitor viral conditions, plan with staff and communicate with families.”

Over the coming days and weeks the district will continue to monitor case trends to ensure levels support the Yellow Stage transition, meet and review data and plans with union leadership and fine tune logistics related to transportation, nutrition services, safety and parent communications. 

Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors will conduct its regularly scheduled Business Meeting Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 5:30 p.m. Community members have an opportunity to share their input on the topic for public record prior to the meeting. Public comments must be submitted by email to Administrative Assistant Susie Golden at sgolden@wwps.org by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14. Comments will be public record and shared with the school board in advance of the meeting and posted on the district’s website. Public comments must include the citizen’s name, address and contact information. Citizens may also drop off comments at the District Office drop box located at 364 S. Park St. The drop box is located adjacent to the main entrance. 

More information regarding the district’s Safely Reopening Schools Plan, visit: https://www.wwps.org/safely-reopening-schools

WALLA WALLA PUBLIC SCHOOLS • 364 South Park St. • Walla Walla, WA 99362 • Phone: 509-527-3000 • Fax: 509.529.7713

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