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District Plans Return to School

Teachers approve in-person learning plan: District initiates comprehensive safety review & prepares for AM/PM Hybrid

On Jan. 8, teachers in Walla Walla Public Schools endorsed the transition to in-person learning and accompanying safety protocols and procedures. These plans are consistent with revised guidance and recommendations provided from state health officials late last month. According to the approved reentry Roadmap, reviewed by the School Board during their special meeting on Jan. 5, students in the district’s preschool and transitional kindergarten program will convert to in-person learning utilizing the AM/PM Hybrid Model on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Kindergarten through 5th grade students are set to transition to in-person AM/PM Hybrid learning on Monday, Jan. 25.

Additionally, students in self-contained Special Education programs, SEATech students, students in specific Career and Technical Education programs, and a select number of struggling middle and high school students will also be permitted onsite access as soon as the 19th. As articulated in the revised Roadmap, and consistent with state health authorities, the district will return middle and high school students to in-person learning once case counts reach state-recommended levels.

As noted by School Board President Derek Sarley last week, “We understand remote learning has been a challenge for families and students across the district. The good news is there is a significant amount of research showing we can offer safe in-person instruction as long as we are following all of the state guidelines. This is especially true if we start with our younger learners then gradually phase in the older students as we are able to keep kids safe in schools and as local conditions improve.”

In preparation for on-site learning, the District has contracted with NV5/DADE MOELLER© to perform a comprehensive third party COVID Preparedness Review. The audit includes a review of facility and personnel practices against the latest CDC and WaDOH guidance on re-opening schools, to ensure campuses, HVAC modifications and COVID protocols are compliant with the latest standards. Additionally, it incorporates a review of physical areas, employee work arrangements and administrative controls to ensure necessary protocols are in place to minimize exposure to pathogens for staff and students. Stephen Bump, a Certified Industrial Hygienist and Health Professional from NV5, performed on-site inspections at each of the district’s elementary and preschool sites today as they prepare for students returning to in-person instruction over the coming weeks.

“This comprehensive third party audit ensures the district has fully reviewed and implemented all of the safety protocols and procedures recommended from state health officials and industry experts,” noted Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. “This serves as an additional layer of protection for all staff, students and parents and is a part of our continued commitment to keep students and staff safe.”

Over the coming days, significant communication to parents will take place. Families are encouraged to check their phones messages, mailboxes and email as buildings, programs and staff begin outreach and coordination related to the transition and learning options available to students and families. Additionally, district officials encourage stakeholders to review their comprehensive COVID Safety and Preparedness Protocols by visiting the district’s website (www.wwps.org).

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

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