Walla Walla Sch. Dist.
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School construction projects given green light to operate during COVID-19 closures -- more local contractors awarded projects - 03/25/20

WALLA WALLA – Monday Governor Jay Inslee issued his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order requiring Washingtonians to stay home unless they need to pursue an essential activity to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Educational services through Distance Learning Programs such as WWPS’s weekly packet pickup for elementary students, daily meals to students and childcare for first responders and medical professionals, did not fall into the closure criteria and remain operational. 

School construction projects were also exempt from Governor Inslee’s directive. This point was reinforced by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Chris Reykdal’s address March 24 sent to all superintendents stating, "neither the proclamation nor the list of essential functions would preclude districts from continuing your construction projects."

As a result of this information from the State of Washington, Jackson Contractor Group notified the school district that Walla Walla High School improvements will continue. Jackson Construction Group of Walla Walla is currently building the new science building at Walla Walla High School as part of the district’s bond program. Rylan Oakland of Jackson Contractor Group says his company has implemented social distancing protocols for all employees and subcontractors working on the project. He noted they have also added handwashing stations on the job site as a disease control preventative measure. 

Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith reported over $2M in additional bond work related to Walla Walla High School civil infrastructure improvement phase scheduled for this spring were all awarded to local Walla Walla contractors. Premier Excavation secured the excavation and earthwork, Cutting Edge Plumbing will complete the plumbing elements, Walla Walla Electric is doing the electrical work and Nelson Construction Inc. is supporting concrete flatwork needs.

“We’re thrilled to see $2M going right back into Walla Walla pockets,” said Smith. “Work is set to begin soon on the civil infrastructure project that includes underground utilities across the campus to replace aged and failing infrastructure as well as necessary utilities to support the campus renovations. Improvements includes upgraded sewer, domestic water and fire supply to meet code requirements, replacing outdated electrical transformer infrastructure, and fiber connectivity for communications and technology.”

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Walla Walla Public Schools to begin Distance Learning Program next week (Photo) - 03/17/20

 WALLA WALLA – Today Walla Walla Public Schools unveiled a Distance Learning Program for all students preschool through grade 12 during the minimum six-week districtwide campus closure due to COVID-19. This program is designed to ensure mastery of grade-level content, maintain an ability to earn credits, provide a mechanism for seniors to stay on track for graduation and connect students and families with their teachers.

“Our school board, administrators, teachers and support staff all believe it is our paramount obligation to provide these services during the pandemic health crisis,” said Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. “District leaders and staff have worked diligently to provide a quality learning experience for students during this transition to ensure continuation of their learning occurs.”

Distance Learning Services begin Monday, March 23. This week educators are planning and organizing plans for this new educational delivery model. Preschool and elementary-aged students will be supported with weekly learning materials, customized and created exclusively by their homeroom teacher and specialists. These elementary paper and pencil packets will be picked up each Monday at the child’s school from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Home deliveries of materials will be offered as needed.

Middle and high school students will receive their daily instruction from their teachers through the Google Classroom platform. The district will checkout Chromebooks for students who do not have access to a computer and be issued a Verizon hot spot if they don’t have internet access.

“Walla Walla Public Schools understands that additional oversight and accountability will be required from students and families to ensure a successful distance learning experience for all,” said Smith. “We empathize with the burden this responsibility places on families, but rest assured our district staff stand ready to assist at all levels.”

Walla Walla Public Schools is also offering free meals and student-aged childcare to specific families during the COVID-19 closure. These services begin Tuesday, March 17.

Visit the district’s newly created Distance Learning Program website for all the information on this new program:  www.wwps.org/distancelearning.

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Walla Walla Public Schools to begin meal and childcare services Tuesday - 03/15/20

WALLA WALLA – Walla Walla Public Schools is pleased to offer free meals and student-aged childcare to specific families during the six-week districtwide campus closure due to COVID-19. These services begin Tuesday, March 17.
 
Meal services will be available at school and community locations for all students, free of charge, beginning Tuesday, March 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The daily meals include a USDA approved sack lunch and breakfast for each child. Students individually, or accompanied by a parent/guardian, may pick up meals at whichever site is most convenient. Delivery services will be available on a case-by-case basis as needed.  
 
Meal Service Pick Up Locations
•    Sharpstein Elementary (Howard St side)
•    Blue Ridge Elementary (round-a-bout in front of main entrance)
•    Garrison Middle School (front of school)
•    Pioneer Middle School (front of school)
•    Prospect Point Elementary (near bus loop along Howard)
•    Berney Elementary (near staff parking along School Ave)
•    Edison Elementary (front of school)
•    Green Park Elementary (near gym entrance)
•    Lincoln (4th St side)
•    Vista Terrace Park
•    Washington Park
•    Veteran's Memorial Park
 
Meal Service and Delivery Questions:
Pamela Milleson, Nutrition Services Director
(509) 527-3016 / pmilleson@wwps.org
 
When the Governor issued his order to close schools, he also included a provision to provide childcare services to specific families. In order to support critical care providers and vulnerable students, Walla Walla Public Schools will offer free, student-aged childcare supervision at all school sites from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.. Eligible children include current WWPS students whose parent(s)/guardian(s) are first responders who otherwise do not have coverage, students identified as homeless and students with significant disabilities. The district has expanded the definition of first responders to include any student whose parent/guardian works for a medical provider or in the medical field, police officers, firefighters, rescuers, military personnel or key public works personnel. The childcare program will follow social distancing guidelines, offer nutritional services and provide a learning environment. Transportation will be available upon request. For more information, contact Pam Clayton at 509-526-6730 or at childcare@wwps.org        
 
Walla Walla Public Schools is also finalizing its plan for the continuation of education for all students, from preschool to high school, during the campus closure event. Learning plans and programs are set to be communicated on Tuesday, March 17 to ensure all students remain engaged in their learning, continue to earn credits, and remain on track for graduation.    

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Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors Regular Business Meeting: March 17, 2020 - 03/13/20

Supporting documents are available via the following link:  https://meetings.boardbook.org/Public/Organization/997

Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors Special Meeting: March 16, 2020 - 03/13/20

Supporting documents are available via the following link:  https://meetings.boardbook.org/Public/Organization/997

Walla Walla Public Schools to close campuses through April 24 - 03/13/20

COVID-19 Update from Superintendent Smith

WALLA WALLA - Today, Friday, March 13, Governor Inslee issued an emergency proclamation to close all public, charter, and private schools in the state of Washington effective Tuesday, March 17. As a result of this directive, the last day for students in Walla Walla Public Schools on campus will be Monday, March 16. Schools across the state, including Walla Walla are to remain closed through at least April 24, 2020 in an effort to aggressively slow the spread of COVID-19.

We recognize the significant impact this extended closure will have on our entire Walla Walla community, students, families, and staff. Closing campuses for a minimum of six weeks mid-year is unprecedented. We acknowledge the anxiety this may cause our students, especially our seniors who are focused on graduation, and those students who depend on WWPS for critical services. We also recognize the burden this will place on our staff and working families.

WWPS has been working tirelessly over recent weeks preparing for the possibility of the unfortunate decision that we would be forced to close our physical campuses. Plans for the continuation of education for all students, preschool through high school, have been drafted, and are being reviewed and finalized. Additionally, access to critical services such as student meals, daycare for targeted groups, and other measures, have also been developed and will be shared in the coming days.

Thank you again for your patience and support as we implement campus safety closure procedures and communicate plans to ensure high levels of continued learning for our students throughout this health crisis. 

Respectfully,

Wade Smith, Ed.D.
Superintendent
Walla Walla Public Schools
 

Superintendent Smith elevates pandemic plan to Stage 3 - 03/12/20

UPDATE BY SUPERINTENDENT DR. WADE SMITH:

WALLA WALLA PUBLIC SCHOOLS: 

As you may have already heard, Governor Inslee announced today the pending closure of all public, charter and private schools for 6 weeks in the counties of King, Snohomish, and Pierce, in an effort to slow the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This state closure directive does not affect Walla Walla Schools at this time. However, this decision does affect 43 school districts and over 600,000 students, over half of the state’s student population. The districts impacted in the three western counties are instructed to implement closure no later than Tuesday, March 17.

As shared during the press conference, impacted districts are beginning efforts to ramp up services, educationally and nutritionally, to support students and families during this seminal event. Throughout the press conference, which included Superintendent of Public Instruction Reykdal and Secretary of Health Wiesman, strong guidance for all districts to take progressive safety measures to slow the statewide spread was repeatedly emphasized.

To date, we still do not have a presumed positive case of COVID-19 in a Walla Walla resident. Recent cases in Umatilla County, Columbia County, and other eastern Washington communities, in addition to further details outlined this afternoon, confirm the likelihood that it is a matter of time before the virus begins affecting our own community.

As a result, Walla Walla Schools will be implementing Stage 3 of our Pandemic Response Plan effective tomorrow, Friday, March 13. In addition to the preventative measures we have already taken, the following actions will be initiated to ensure we keep students, staff and our community safe during this virus pandemic. 

Stage 3 safety measures include:

• Enhanced social distancing of students in line with CDC guidelines will be implemented (e.g. ensuring all educational activities refrain from any physical touching between students, postponing daytime assemblies, and continually reinforcing student distancing measures).

• Postponing all after school and weekend events/activities (e.g. athletic contests, concerts, drama productions, after school assemblies, and other student events/activities). Note: This does not impact WWPS athletic, club or co-curricular practices.

• Effective Friday at midnight, we will be postponing outside community use of our indoor facilities for public events and gatherings (e.g. events occurring inside our schools that require facility use agreements for non-district users). Note: This does not apply to our daily, youth service partners and their current student support programs (e.g. Camp Fire, Millennial Soccer, 21st Century) or scheduled community use of outdoor facilities.

At the advice of Governor Inslee and Superintendent Reykdal, Walla Walla Schools continues to prepare for the possibility of an extended school closure directive. My colleagues and I are working tirelessly to ensure we are well prepared for all plausible circumstances, with learning contingencies and accommodations to meet the needs of all students. My pledge to you is to communicate regularly and often throughout this health crisis.

Thank you for helping us maintain a safe and secure learning environment for our Walla Walla educational community. Please visit our website at wwps.org or contact me with any questions you may have.

Respectfully,

Wade Smith, Ed.D.
Superintendent
Walla Walla Public Schools
509.526.6714(office) / 501.510.0260(cell)
Twitter@WallaWallaSup
 

Walla Walla Public Schools suspends student and staff events until further notice - 03/12/20

WALLA WALLA - Walla Walla Public Schools will be suspending all school-sponsored out-of-district student events effective immediately. This decision also suspends all student events hosted at Walla Walla schools where outside participants would be traveling into the community. This includes activities such as home and away athletic contests, student field trips outside of our community, music contests/jamborees, and other program-related competitions/events.  

“This decision came after careful consideration, including consultation with local health officials this morning,” said Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. “This decision did not come lightly, but is necessary to ensure the health and safety of our students, staff, and community as we respond to this pandemic health crisis.”

Information regarding rescheduling of activities and events will be made available when conditions improve and/or are recommended by health experts.

“This is an extremely fluid situation,” said Smith. “My pledge to you is that we will communicate regularly and often.”

Walla Walla Public Schools will continue to follow its epidemic/pandemic response plan as detailed on the district’s Coronavirus Website (https://www.wwps.org/resources/parents/coronavirus-information).

As of this morning, Walla Walla Public Schools remains in Stage 2 of its plan. The district is preparing to implement Stage 3 measures if the crisis warrants this action.

“Thank you for your flexibility and understanding as we collectively respond to keep our Walla Walla students and community safe,” said Smith.

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Congratulations Walla Walla High School Vocalists! - 03/02/20

Congratulations to the WAHI Choral Program.

They traveled to Richland High School and competed in the Columbia Basin Music Educators Association’s Vocal Solo & Ensemble contest this past Saturday. Each student and ensemble performed in front of an adjudicator and received a rating of I, II, III, IV, V. With I = a superior rating and V= Poor. The top three musicians in each category (Winner, 1st alternate, 2nd alternate) are ranked, with the winner going on to compete in April at the State Solo & Ensemble Competition in Ellensburg.

WAHI Regional Vocal Solo & Ensemble Standouts

Dominic Walker- Winner- Baritone Category 

Belles Voix (names listed below)- Winner- Large Soprano/Mezzo/Alto Category
Aria Avila, Izzy Brashear-Simmons, Janie De Leon Lara, Grace Evans, Mimi, Filan, Megan Hua, Emma Jenkins, Raquelle Justice, Abbey Loney, Mya Osborn, Liana Osterman, Brooklyn Rogers, Hannah Sanchez, JDa Thomas Hemming, Paula Vargas, and  Maliah Mercado

Shemar Irizarry- 1st Alternate- Tenor Category

Lydia Anderson & Dominic Walker- 2nd Alternate- Small Mixed Category

Chamber Singers (names listed below)- 2nd Alternate- Large Soprano/Mezzo/Alto Category
Lydia Anderson, Kaeldra Caton, Nele Escobar, Michelle Foster, Ciera Griggs, Sofia Groff, Isabele Gwinn, Marissa McBride, Colleen McKibben, Maliah Mercardo, Liana Osterman, and Jazmyn Paul

Congratulations to Walla Walla & WAHI Musicians!
 

Roger Garcia
Walla Walla School District Music Coordinator
 

Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors Regular Study Meeting: March 3, 2020 - 02/28/20

Supporting documents are available via the following link:  https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicHome.aspx?ak=1001835