District sets March dates for high school return to in-person learning
Following nearly a one-year break from in-person learning amidst the COVID pandemic, high school students will begin returning to campuses Monday, March 8 utilizing the AM/PM hybrid model.
A significant decline in local COVID cases over the past two months according to data provided by the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health allowed the district to shift to the green stage of its reopening plan. Ninth grade students will be on campuses first, beginning Monday, March 8, with 10th-12th grade students returning Wednesday, March 10.
“This phased approach will allow our ninth grade students to have two days on campus without upper grade level students to get orientated to their new schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. “For many of these students, it will be their first time in our high schools.”
Based on guidance released by Governor Inslee and the Washington State Department of Health, schools are encouraged to reopen for high school instruction when cases drop below 200 cases per one hundred thousand population over 14 days. That ratio, when applied to the Walla Walla and College Place communities, equates to approximately 115 new cases over a two-week period to enter the green stage, the same threshold the Walla Walla School Board and Walla Walla Valley Education Association agreed on to begin returning high school students back to campus. As of Feb. 22, combined case counts between the two jurisdictions were at the 110 mark and falling.
The district recently performed a 3rd party on-site safety audit at each secondary school site. The audit concluded the district had the safety protocols and processes in place to safely return to AM/PM hybrid in-person learning.
“This week we’ll begin addressing specific staff safety accommodations necessary and begin to communicate safety protocols and schedules to our families," said Superintendent Smith. “We are excited to welcome our high school students safely back on campus and appreciate the community for helping curb the spread of the virus by wearing masks, social distancing and limiting gatherings.”
The district will continue to monitor COVID cases closely and work with local health officials to continue keeping schools safe. To learn more about the district’s Safely Reopening Plans, please visit www.wwps.org.