COVID Spike Fuels Red Stage transition

Soaring COVID cases over recent days requires district to temporarily limit in-person instruction for students – athletic start up delayed 

Walla Walla Public Schools is transitioning from its Orange Stage to Red Stage, which keeps all students off campus for up to two weeks following a recent spike in COVID cases across the community. Over 109 new cases across Walla Walla County have been identified since Friday according to the health department.

District officials conferred with local health department staff this morning and received the updated COVID Activity Report. In addition to other health indicator concerns, the report revealed a five-fold increase in local disease activity in recent weeks and officials recommended that the district hold off on resuming limited athletic practices. 

“The recent spike in cases necessitates we make adjustments to campus access for students consistent with our Roadmap,” said Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. “We certainly hoped we would never be in this position, but these soaring case counts and recommendations warrant we respond accordingly to help curb COVID spread across our community.” 

Under the district’s Orange Stage, a limited number of special education students, including some high school Career and Technical Education students were receiving limited in-person instruction. These on-campus experiences will be temporarily placed on hold during the Red Stage, for up to two weeks, to help ensure viral conditions recede. Students will receive remote instruction during this time. 

The district will closely monitor COVID case counts, in coordination with local health officials, to determine when it is safe to transition back to its Orange Stage. The limited athletic practices set to begin this week will also be suspended and evaluated on a weekly basis. While the district has been successful at minimizing COVID spread on its campuses under the Orange Stage, it has seen a significant spike in students and staff who have been exposed or tested positive for the disease in recent days due to off-campus exposure.

This has necessitated about two-dozen staff be quarantined at home and about one dozen students who are also at home under isolation conditions primarily due to community exposure in recent weeks.  

“We remain committed to safety, communication and transparency in everything we do,” said Superintendent Smith. “The quicker we can get case counts back under control, the quicker we can transition students back to campus.” 

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

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