Third Party COVID Safety Review says district’s secondary schools safe to allow in-person learning
Walla Walla Public Schools contracted with NV5/DADE MOELLER© to perform a comprehensive third party COVID Preparedness Review of middle and high schools in preparation for on-site learning. This is a follow-up to a similar review performed for the elementary schools in January 2021.
Stephen Bump, a Certified Industrial Hygienist and Health Professional from NV5, spent several hours performing on-site inspections Friday, Feb. 5 at Garrison Middle School, Pioneer Middle School, Lincoln High School, Walla Walla High School and SEATech. He had the following to say in his written report to the school district.
“Our review indicates the Walla Walla School District has implemented the health agency guidance and has adequate controls and protocols in place to allow in-person learning at secondary schools in a safe and healthy environment,” as noted in Mr. Bump’s executive summary of the review. “We confirmed that the documents and protocols developed by the district were consistent with the guidance promulgated by the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Washington State Department of Health, and the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health."
The audit included 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 incorporated 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.
The audit included a two-phased review process. During the Phase 1 audit, certified staff from NV5 performed a comprehensive review of all district protocols against the latest WaDOH, CDC and L&I guidelines. Cleaning protocols, masking and other PPE standards, COVID response protocols, staff training and other practices were reviewed. Their findings indicated that all of the district’s protocols met, and in many cases, exceeded safety guidelines. During the Phase 2 audit, thorough on-site inspections of district facilities were performed.
Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith says this comprehensive third party audit ensures the district has fully reviewed and implemented all safety protocols and procedures recommended from state health officials and industry experts.
“This serves as an additional layer of protection for all staff, students and parents and is part of our continued commitment to keep students and staff safe,” said Dr. Smith. “Safety has been, and will continue to be, our top priority, and the results from our third party safety audit spoke to all of our staff members’ hard work.”
Walla Walla Public Schools will begin transitioning 6th grade students back for AM/PM hybrid in-person learning Tuesday, Feb. 16 with 7th and 8th graders returning using the same instructional model Thursday, Feb. 18. The district is closely monitoring local COVID cases and will return high school students to AM/PM hybrid in-person learning as soon as state recommended COVID case targets are met.