Walla Walla Sch. Dist.
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News Releases
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District extends hours to Equity Outreach Hotline; new Hotline established for Special Education (Photo) - 11/20/20

WALLA WALLA – Walla Walla Public Schools is ramping up telephone hotline services to students and families to better support prolonged distance learning amidst the pandemic. Hours for the Equity Outreach Hotline have been extended and will now be operational 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and monitored on weekends. District staff will field calls in English and Spanish for those who need assistance from accessing educational services and school programs to counseling support and general help information. Extended hours begin Monday.

  • Equity Outreach Hotline: (509) 526-6787

 “We understand the incredible burden that families are going through and we need to put every resource available to us on the table to support our students and parents,” said Superintendent Dr, Wade Smith.

The recent shift to the Red Stage due to a spike in COVID cases pushed all students to distance learning and directly impacted more than 100 students with Special Education who were receiving in-person instruction. Walla Walla Public Schools is developing a new Hotline to support students receiving Special Education services and students on 504 plans. The SpEd/504 Hotline will also be staffed 8 a.m. to 7 p.m, Monday-Friday and monitored on the weekends. The hotline goes live Monday.

  • Special Education/504 Hotline: (509) 526-6770

“Our staff are excited to work with families and students to provide more support and services,” said Director of Special Education Libby Thompson. “We are in the relationship business and this new hotline will help us have a better understanding of our families’ needs and how we can best support them.”

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Attached Media Files: Wade_Smith.jpg , Libby_Thompson_1.jpg
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COVID spike pushes district to remain in distance learning through December (Photo) - 11/18/20

WALLA WALLA – Walla Walla Public Schools will remain in Red Stage, keeping students in distance learning through Dec. 18, which marks the beginning of its winter break. Currently there are 471 active COVID cases in Walla Walla County, 436 of them stemming from the Walla Walla and College Place communities, based on the county’s COVID Activity Report received Monday. This represents a ten-fold increase over the last month alone. According to local Department of Community Health officials, the county’s COVID positivity rate is at 15 percent and has been climbing in recent weeks, in addition to a 20 percent increase in cases that could not be sourced to a contact.

“We are very concerned about the uptick,” said Dr. Larry Jecha, Walla Walla County Public Health Officer, in a recent correspondence to district officials. “The Washington State COVID-19 Surveillance Report, issued by the federal government, identifies Walla Walla County as being in the top three counties with the greatest increase of COVID-19 cases in the past three weeks in the State of Washington.”

“While we desperately want to be serving students in person, the current virus activity simply doesn’t permit us to do so at this time,” said Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. “We have to do our part to protect our students, staff and families from this serious health crisis, and not exacerbate community spread by prematurely opening.”

At Tuesday night’s board meeting Superintendent Smith reviewed additional measures the district is implementing to support students and families during extended distance learning. “I am so proud of our staff who are doing everything in their power to support students and families during this extremely difficult time,” said Dr. Smith. “We understand the incredible burden that families are going through and we need to put every resource available to us on the table to support our students and parents.” 

The district has invested in additional para-educator time to support students through home visits and helplines, partnered with internet providers to provide free, high speed internet to families without service and developed a website to coordinate mental health and other counseling services. The district is also providing free meals for all students over winter break to ease the hardship so many of our families are experiencing.

The district will closely monitor COVID case counts, in coordination with local health officials, and will communicate with families over winter break regarding January learning options. We are encouraging families to prepare for distance learning to continue through at least the first two weeks of January. This will allow county health officials time to monitor potential viral impacts from possible holiday exposures.

“We urge everyone to follow the safety protocols set forth by health officials including wearing masks, social distancing and maintaining good hygiene,” said Dr. Smith. “By working together we can get COVID case counts down to safe levels and begin the transition of 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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Attached Media Files: Wade_Smith.jpg
District announces Winter Break free meals program - 11/16/20

WALLA WALLA - Walla Walla Public Schools is providing free meals during Winter Break to all children ages 1-18.  Each child will receive a meal box with 10 breakfasts and 10 lunches.

Pre-order by clicking on the link below or visit www.wwps.org.  

Paper pre-order forms are available at each meal pick up site. Pre-order by 4 p.m. December 11. Late forms will not be accepted due to the district’s food order deadline. Pick up for pre-ordered meals is Saturday, December 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Support Services Building, 1174 Entley St. in Walla Walla.

If you have questions or need assistance, please call 509-527-3016.

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Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors Regular Business Meeting: November 17, 2020 - 11/13/20

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

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WWHS JROTC to hold virtual Veterans Day assembly Tuesday, Nov.10, 2020 (Photo) - 11/09/20

By: Blue Devil Battalion Public Affairs.

Walla Walla - The Walla Walla High School JROTC Blue Devil Cadet Battalion will present a virtual assembly to honor all veterans on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, in a YouTube Live event.

"The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets have prepared a commemorative program for this assembly. Veterans and their guests are invited to log into our virtual assembly which will begin promptly at 11:50 a.m. Pacific Standard Time," said cadet Lt. Col. Ramon Lopez, the battalion commander. "Veterans of all periods and conflicts including the Cold War, from all branches including the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, and all their components, active, reserve, guard, and retired will be recognized for their service to the nation."

The link to attend this event is: https://rebrand.ly/wahiassembly , according to a cadet spokesperson.

"This event is intended for all veterans, their families, survivors, friends of veterans, and the general public. Please share this invitation with every veteran you know," said Command Sgt. Maj. Tony Marrero, the senior Army instructor.

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Please credit: Courtesy of Walla Walla High School JROTC Public Affairs

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Walla Walla school board earns state Board of Distinction award (Photo) - 11/04/20

WALLA WALLA - Congratulations to the Walla Walla Public Schools’ Board of Directors for earning the 2020 Board of Distinction award from The Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA). This is the school board’s third consecutive statewide honor.

Walla Walla was recognized in the medium-sized districts category for their actions in helping close opportunity gaps. Walla Walla school board members were able to show a clear link between their leadership in applying the Washington School Board Standards and closing gaps that impact student success. Among other accolades, the Board was acknowledged for their leadership around expanding access to early learning and exceeding their target for high school graduation rate years in advance. They were also honored for a 19.5% increase in Hispanic/Latino graduation rates that were nearly 14% above state averages, technology improvements and their focus on district curriculum enhancements and staff professional development.

“All means all in Walla Walla,” said School Board President Sam Wells. “Our strategic plan is focused on supporting the needs of all students and we do this through high quality instruction, sound operational systems and social and emotional supports in a safe and engaging learning environment."

Joining Wells on the school board is Vice President Derek Sarley and directors Ruth Ladderud, Eric Rindal and Terri Trick. A panel of 10 judges spent approximately six to eight hours each, not only reviewing applications but also working together with WSSDA staff, to collaborate with each other on how applications are evaluated. Judges from across the state included former and current Educational Service District superintendents, State Board of Education board members, former school directors, and others who are involved in education leadership on a statewide level.

Walla Walla remains in contention for the Board of the Year award that will be revealed during the virtual WSSDA state conference Nov. 19.

Photo L-R: Eric Rindal, Terri Trick, Derek Sarley, Ruth Ladderud and Sam Wells. 

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Attached Media Files: WWPS_School_Board_2020.jpg
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Garrison Middle School Prevention Club earns state award for social emotional support (Photo) - 11/04/20

WALLA WALLA - Garrison Middle School’s Prevention Club was honored virtually today by the Washington Health Care Authority for receiving the 2020 Prevention Award of Excellence – Youth Leadership – Middle School Club award. Prevention Club Advisor and School Counselor Angie Gardea accepted the award via ZOOM during the organization’s annual meeting.

Peggy Needham of Walla Walla County Health Services nominated Garrison for the award. In the nomination, Needham noted Garrison Middle School was trained in Sources of Strength and uses their evidence-based structure to build peer-led programs that target mental health promotion and suicide prevention. In addition, Garrison Middle School students implemented Red Ribbon Week activities and the "You Can" marijuana prevention program.

Last year there were 55 student members in the prevention club, which coordinates events, programming and implementation during the school year.

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Soaring COVID cases over recent days requires district to temporarily limit in-person instruction for students -- athletic start up delayed (Photo) - 11/02/20

WALLA WALLA – 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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Attached Media Files: Wade_Smith.jpg