Messaging to Families

Hybrid In-Person Learning Update

February 24, 2021

 

Hello OSD families,

This week we welcomed first and second graders back to our school campuses for hybrid in-person learning. These students joined many of our preschoolers and kindergartners who started hybrid instruction on February 1.

Today we want to announce the next set of grade levels that we plan to return to hybrid in-person learning while adhering to all health and safety protocols:

 

  • Monday, March 8: Hybrid in-person learning will begin for grades 3, 4 and 5.
  • Monday, March 15: Hybrid in-person learning will begin for grade 6.

 

Schools will contact families in these grade levels with additional information, including the group/day students have been assigned to attend on-site instruction.

Plans are to implement hybrid learning for all other middle and high school students by the end of March. We will announce those start dates as soon as plans are finalized.

Full-time distance learning will continue for families that have chosen to have their students learn remotely.

As we continue transitioning more grade levels to hybrid learning and serving other students remotely, we want to share a document that outlines the hybrid learning format at the elementary and secondary levels.

The Hybrid Learning Plan 1.0 document includes information such as safety/mitigation protocols, attendance, protocol for lunch and/or recess, grading, and sample elementary and secondary remote and hybrid learning schedules. This document will be updated to reflect any future changes in local or state guidance pertaining to in-person learning.

More information about hybrid learning, as well as remote learning updates, are posted on the Olympia School District In-Person and Remote Learning Updates webpage.

Thank you,

Communications and Community Relations
communications@osd.wednet.edu

 


Hybrid learning starts Feb. 22 for grades 1 and 2

February 10, 2021

 

Hello OSD families,

 

In-person hybrid learning will expand to include grades one and two starting on Monday, February 22, 2021.

 

School principals will reach out directly to families of first and second graders over the next week with information such as the group/day students have been assigned to attend on-site instruction (Note: Kindergartners at Lincoln Options and the Olympia Regional Learning Academy will also start in-person learning on February 22 at the same time as first graders).

 

Full-time distance learning will continue for families that have chosen to have their students learn remotely.

 

The expansion of hybrid in-person learning to include first and second graders follows the initial rollout of hybrid learning on February 1, 2021 to preschoolers and kindergartners. As was stated in previous communications, matching up the choices of families with the availability of staff across schools, and grade levels, is a complex and challenging process that takes time. Our priorities in that process are firstly, to keep students with their current teacher; secondly, if we cannot keep them with their teacher, then to keep them in the same school. Lastly, if neither of those options is possible, then to place students in a school that is close in proximity to their current home school. Start dates for all other elementary, middle and high school grades are to be determined.

 

Please note the following:

 

  • Families and staff will receive at least one-week notice before the next grade level(s) start hybrid.

  • In general, the month of February will be dedicated to transitioning to hybrid learning for elementary grades. Middle and high school grades will be considered for implementation in March. 

 

Health Department Guidance

The safe transition to hybrid learning for our youngest learners is supported in the guidance issued in January by the Thurston County Health Officer.

  

  • Based on current COVID-19 data, the health officer recommends schools cautiously transition to in-person learning for K-5 and middle school students using the Washington State Department of Health decision-making framework.
  • Once transmission rates are below 200 cases per 100,000 people over two weeks, the health officer recommends returning high school students to in-person learning. As of today, February 10, the COVID-19 transmission rate is just over 200 per 100,000 people over 14 days.

 

To learn more about Olympia School district’s health and safety protocols, which follow local and state guidelines, view a COVID-19 Training Video for Families (8:30)

 

We will continue to provide updates, including the start dates for other grade levels, as soon as decisions are made.

 

Thank you,

 

Communications and Community Relations Department
communications@osd.wednet.edu

 


 

Attestation reminder for on-site learning

January 29, 2021

 

Hello OSD families,

To ensure the well-being of students and staff, please remember that we expect our parents/guardians to screen their student’s health daily before the student boards the school bus and/or arrives at school for on-site learning or activities.

We also ask parents/guardians to complete a form in Skyward Family Access when their student first starts on-site learning/activities, and again at the start of each month thereafter, that attests they will complete this daily wellness screening, including checking the student for symptoms of COVID-19.

While in the past we asked families to complete this attestation form daily for students attending school on-site, beginning Monday, February 1, we will require it be submitted at the start of each month. The form can be accessed in Skyward Family Access via a computer or mobile phone app.

 

 

In addition to the family’s daily health screening, each student will also have their temperature checked and be observed for symptoms upon entry at all OSD schools daily. Students who don’t pass the school’s daily symptom screening will be isolated and sent home.

Thank you for your cooperation in adhering to this important daily screening and monthly attestation process.

 

Communications and Community Relations
communications@osd.wednet.edu

 


Hybrid learning update

January 29, 2021

 

Hello OSD elementary school families,

As we begin transitioning to hybrid in-person learning next week for our youngest learners, we have two updates we would like to share with you today.

Elementary School Hours Posted on District Website

New start and end times for in-person hybrid learning at all elementary schools are posted on the school district website. Middle and high school start and end times will be added to this webpage once they are finalized.

As a reminder, the Olympia School District will transition to hybrid in-person learning on Monday, February 1, 2021 for preschool and kindergarten students (Note: Kindergartners at Lincoln Options and the Olympia Regional Learning Academy will start in-person learning at the same time as first graders).


Meal Distribution for Students Attending Hybrid In-Person Classes

At all elementary schools, students attending in-person learning will be given the opportunity to eat breakfast when they arrive, and will have a pre-packaged hot meal available for lunch. In most cases, breakfasts and lunches will be served in cafeterias with students at least 6 feet apart from another student. (Note: Families of preschoolers will be notified by their teacher regarding the specifics of meals offered).

All meals districtwide are free to students regardless of whether or not a student/family has applied for and been accepted as eligible for the federal Free or Reduced Price Lunch program. We are pleased to be able to offer meals to students at school, and that these are free to all students.

The district will continue to distribute free grab-and-go meals to students who are in full-time distance learning, or are in hybrid learning but on their remote day. View the schedule and sites for grab-and-go meal distribution.

Thank you,

Communications and Community Relations
communications@osd.wednet.edu

 


 

Hybrid learning update

January 22, 2021

 

Hello OSD families,

 

We want to share some changes made to the tentative start dates announced last week for the transition to in-person hybrid learning. Additionally, we want to share specifics about the hybrid learning model shared at last night’s Olympia School Board work session.

 

Revised Start Dates for In-Person Hybrid Learning

Based on health department guidance issued yesterday, we have updated our tentative hybrid start dates as follows:

 

  • February 1, 2021 will remain the start date, as previously announced, for preschool and kindergarten students.
    • School principals will reach out directly to preschool and kindergarten families over the next week with information such as the group/day students have been assigned to attend on-site, and school day start and end time schedules. Full-time distance learning will continue for families that have chosen to have their students learn remotely. (Note: Kindergartners at Lincoln Options and the Olympia Regional Learning Academy will start in-person learning at the same time as first graders).
  • Start dates for all other elementary, middle and high school grades are to be determined. Please note the following:
    • As we begin our hybrid implementation with preschool and kindergarten, there will be a minimum of two weeks before the district expands hybrid learning to the next grade level(s). If health data changes, we may adjust this timeline.
    • Families and staff will receive at least one-week notice before the next grade level(s) start hybrid.
    • In general, the month of February will be dedicated to transitioning to hybrid learning for elementary grades. Middle and high school grades will be considered for implementation in March.

 

Health Department Guidance

The safe transition to hybrid learning for our youngest learners is supported in the guidance issued yesterday by the Thurston County Health Officer.

 

  • Based on current COVID-19 data, the health officer recommends schools cautiously transition to in-person learning for K-5 and middle school students using the Washington State Department of Health decision making framework.
  • Once transmission rates are below 200 cases per 100,000 people, the health officer recommends returning high school students to in-person learning.

 

Information Shared at January 21 School Board Work Session

Staff presented the board with specifics about the hybrid learning model. Information included details about academics, recess, lunch, bus transportation, cleaning and disinfection, Personal Protective Equipment, COVID-19 response protocols, attestation, isolation rooms, staffing, childcare, and meal distribution.

 

 

We will continue to provide updates, including the start dates for other grade levels, as soon as decisions are made.

Thank you!

 

Communications and Community Relations
communications@osd.wednet.edu

 


 

Guidance received today on in-person learning

January 15, 2021

 

Hello OSD families,

In a letter today to the educational community, Thurston County Health Officer Dr. Dimyana Abdelmalek advised districts that they may phase in more in-person learning as soon as January 25 for elementary and middle school students, followed by high school students when supported by COVID-19 health data.

 

According to guidance issued by county health officials, schools can plan for safely phasing in expanded in-person learning for high school students once transmission rates fall below 200 cases per 100,000 people over 14 days. Currently, the county transmission rate is 236 cases per 100,000 people over two weeks.

“I have heard from many educators as well as student families who are worried and fearful of either going back to school too soon or not quickly enough,” Abdelmalek said. “I take my duty to protect the health of everyone who works and learn in our schools from contagious diseases very seriously and this is at the heart of every recommendation I have given. I know everyone is suffering from both direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 and we all want to return to a semblance of normalcy.”

 

She continued, “Schools are the pillars of our community and I am confident that by following our state health guidance, and continuing to learn and work together, our schools can be a safe and healthy harbor amid this pandemic here in Thurston County.”

She said she will continue to closely monitor local health conditions and provide another update on January 21.

In a message to families earlier this week, we shared tentative, conditional start dates to welcome OSD students back on our campuses in a hybrid model beginning with preschool and kindergarten on February 1. View all tentative, conditional start dates announced on January 12.

 

Based on today’s guidance, we will consult with our local health officials and re-examine these proposed start dates, particularly at the middle and high school levels, to assure we are within the identified parameters for ensuring a safe transition to hybrid learning. Planning for the transition to on-site hybrid classes continues with our labor groups. Details will be discussed at the January 21 Olympia School Board work session. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. on Zoom.

Thank you,

Communications and Community Relations
communications@osd.wednet.edu

 


 

OSD Message to Families

January 12, 2021

 

Hello OSD families,

 

As we move forward with plans to welcome students back on campus in a hybrid learning model, we have created a schedule of tentative, conditional start dates to help families plan for the anticipated expansion of in-person learning.

 

The following are tentative start dates for hybrid learning by grade level. These dates are conditional on receiving guidance from county health officials to move forward with more in-person learning based on COVID-19 activity:

 

  • February 1: Preschool and kindergarten
  • February 8: Grades 1, 2 and 6
  • February 18: Grades 3, 7 and 9
  • February 22: Grades 4, 5, 8 and 12
  • March 1: Grades 10 and 11

 

Note: If your student is in a multiage classroom, their start date for hybrid learning will match the date for the grade level with the latest start date. For example, students signed up for hybrid in a combined kindergarten/first-grade class will begin on February 8, not February 1.

 

Last week we shared with families that the Thurston County health officer plans to recommend, provided COVID-19 metrics support a safe shift to hybrid, that school districts expand in-person learning beginning with their youngest learners. She said she would monitor health data the first three weeks of January before issuing a recommendation. We will continue to follow the guidance of our health professionals -- just as we have since the Pandemic started.

 

Once we receive guidance to safely shift to hybrid learning, please note:

 

  • The district will continue to offer families the option of 100 percent distance learning.
  • Students in Life Skills, Developmental Learning Classroom (DLC) and intensive preschool programs will continue to receive in-person instruction as they have been doing since last September while adhering to health and safety guidelines. Any changes to current in-person learning schedules will be communicated directly with these families.
  • Over the past several months, we asked families to complete forms in Skyward Family Access indicating their preference for remote or hybrid learning. Schools are using this information to develop school schedules and hybrid cohorts. Families that have not filled out the form will have their students assigned to full-time distance learning. If you have not filled out the form, don’t recall whether you chose hybrid or distance learning, or want to adjust your choice on the form, please contact your school office.
  • Specifics such as school start and end times, how to request bus transportation, and more about the differences between hybrid and remote learning will be shared with families by early next week.
  • The school board has scheduled a work session on January 21 to discuss the shift to hybrid learning -- a shift we started preparing for last spring and one that is outlined in the board-approved OSD School Reopening Plan for 2020-21.

 

Thank you for your continued understanding, and please remember to check your email for updates on our planned shift to hybrid learning.

 

Communications and Community Relations

communications@osd.wednet.edu

 


 

OSD Message to Families: In-person learning update

January 5, 2021

 

Hello OSD families,

 

Attached is new information we received today from Thurston County health officials related to the expansion of in-person learning.

 

In a letter to area school superintendents, Health Officer Dr. Dimyana Abdelmalek said that if health metrics support it, she will recommend school districts “cautiously starting in-person learning for elementary and middle school students” using a hybrid model and small groups in alignment with state health and safety guidelines.

 

The expansion of in-person learning will be possible, she said, if Thurston County continues to stay in the moderate virus transmission range (50-350 cases per 100,000 people over 14 days) “for a majority of days for three weeks after the New Year’s holiday and there is sufficient testing, hospital and public health capacity.”

 

Currently, Thurston County is in the moderate COVID-19 activity range where in-person learning for elementary school and middle school is recommended, provided strict safety guidelines described in the Washington State Department of Health K-12 Schools 2020-2021 Guidance are followed. Gov. Jay Inslee released new metrics for in-person learning last month that define health metrics for low, moderate and high COVID-19 activity and how each level relates to providing in-person learning for elementary, middle and high school students statewide.

 

“We have seen significant increases in transmission after holidays so I am closely watching our hospitalizations, outbreaks and public health capacity to respond should we see an increase from the recent holidays,” the health officer said in today’s letter. “I am also monitoring new developments regarding the new strain of COVID-19.” If the situation changes, she added her guidance may also change to reflect the best available data.

 

As our district has done throughout this pandemic, we will continue to follow the guidance of our local health officials regarding when to return more students to in-person learning. As you may recall, we started serving students in small groups of five or less last September, shortly after our school board approved an OSD school reopening plan for the 2020-21 school year. Since then, staff has been serving hundreds of students in small groups in school buildings while adhering to mandated health and safety protocols. Thanks to the extensive planning and efforts of staff and community, we’ll be ready to move when we get the recommendation from health officials to return more of our students to in-person learning in a hybrid model. Based on today’s letter, we expect to receive that guidance sometime after the third week of January.

 

We will continue to update you as we receive additional direction from county health officials.

 

Thank you,

 

Communications and Community Relations Department

Olympia School District

 


 

Message to Families

December 16, 2020

 

Hello OSD families,

This afternoon Gov. Jay Inslee recommended new state guidance that would effectively accelerate the ability for schools statewide to serve more students in person.

While Gov. Inslee emphasized that his announcement is a recommendation for local jurisdictions to consider, it is certainly encouraging news in our efforts to serve more students in person. Staff has been serving hundreds of our students on campus since late September in small groups, all while adhering to mandated health and safety protocols.

His remarks followed a meeting earlier today of Thurston County school superintendents with Thurston County Public Health and Social Services (PHSS) officials. PHSS plans to share a communication later this week related to the governor’s updated guidance for expanding in-person learning and how it will inform their local recommendations.

We will share the PHSS message with you as soon as we receive it and will continue to keep you updated on how the new state guidance affects our timeline for expanding in-person learning in the Olympia School District.

Learn more about Gov. Inslee’s announcement today

Thank you,

Communications and Community Relations Department
Olympia School District

 


 

OSD Message to Families: Please take family survey

November 20, 2020

 

Hello OSD families in grades 1-12,

As we plan ahead for when we can safely shift to a hybrid in-person learning model for full grade levels, we invite you to complete a survey to indicate whether you want your student to remain in 100 percent distance learning or participate in a hybrid learning model.

We ask families to fill out one form for each child who currently attends school in our district. The deadline to complete the form, posted in Skyward Family Access, is 4 p.m. on Friday, December 4, 2020.

As we have mentioned in previous communications, based on local health department guidance, we know it will be at least January before the Olympia School District can shift to a hybrid in-person learning model. We need to gather this information now, however, because of the complexity in building school schedules.

Whichever option you choose on this survey, we will connect with you again when the county gives approval to proceed with hybrid learning so you can affirm your preferred learning model choice.

To access the survey, you must be in your Skyward Family Access account and not your student's Skyward account. The survey is located on your Homepage wall and can also be accessed by clicking the link located in the menu on the left side of the Homepage labeled "Online Forms."

Please remember to press the Submit button after you have read the survey information and answered the brief questionnaire. If you need help logging in to Skyward Family Access, please read these instructions. Please note that the survey can only be completed by the family identified in Skyward as the student’s first family.

Thank you,

Communications and Community Relations

Olympia School District


 


 

OSD Message to Families: Indoor Athletics Suspended to Dec. 14

November 17, 2020

 

Hello OSD families,

This morning our district received additional guidance from Gov. Jay Inslee’s office that clarifies how the new COVID-19 restrictions impact education-based athletics statewide.

As a result of this guidance, all indoor athletic workouts are suspended until December 14, 2020. This change takes effect today, November 17.

Outdoor athletic conditioning and/or practices may continue provided all participants wear facial coverings at all times.

Read a detailed explanation of the guidance.  

Thank you,

Communications and Community Relations
Olympia School District

 


 

OSD Message to Families: In-person learning update

November 16, 2020

 

Hello OSD families,

 

You may recall we recently shared with you the latest guidance from the Thurston County health officer regarding the expansion of in-person learning. We are following Dr. Dimyana Abdelmalek’s “strong” recommendation that school districts follow a distance learning model until January 2021 with the exception of in-person learning opportunities for small groups of six students with high needs. Given our growing rates of community transmission, the return of some restrictions by the governor, and the holidays on the horizon, this is probably not surprising.

At the same time, the Olympia School District has been providing in-person learning for some small groups of students in special education since late September. Since then, athletic coaches and trainers have made it possible, with strict health and safety measures in place, for small groups to work out and condition on-site and get much needed, in-person, connection with peers and staff. Some teachers have also reached out to their principals suggesting options to bring other small groups on-site, safely, to serve students who have high needs for in-person learning.

It may seem contradictory to explore implementing more on-site opportunities for small groups of students at the same time that we are experiencing high community transmission rates. Gov. Jay Inslee referenced the upward trajectory of cases in yesterday’s press conference when he announced those tighter restrictions statewide to control the spread of COVID-19 (K-12 education is exempt from the new restrictions and should continue to follow local guidance from health officials).

Yet, Inslee also said, “We know how critical education is for our young folks. So far the experience with schools in Washington and across the nation show that health and safety measures, when rigorously enforced, can limit COVID transmission in the school environment.” His comments are supported in a report released earlier this month by the Institute for Disease Modeling.

With safety measures such as physical distancing, face coverings, wellness screenings and handwashing in place, the Olympia School District plans to move forward this fall and winter serving small groups of no more than six students with high needs per group on our campuses. While efforts to improve online learning from last spring have been quite successful, we know that distance learning is not working as well for some. Isolation is having a social-emotional and mental health toll on many of our students and, in some cases, staff.

Between now and early January, we plan the following:

 

  • Strategically and safely expand in-person learning options for small groups of up to six students who have high needs for in-person learning as outlined by health officials and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • Continue small groups of students participating in extracurricular activities, including athletic strength and conditioning and groups that benefit from on-campus participation.
  • Continue to build on the strong foundation and exceptional efforts of remote learning.
  • Survey families in grades 1-12 within the next several weeks to ask their preference for in-person or remote learning once we are able to safely expand to a hybrid model (families of preschoolers and kindergartners have already been surveyed).
  • Confirm staff availability to teach on-site when our guidance allows us to do so. This will allow principals, counselors and registrars to build new master schedules now to prepare for an expansion to hybrid learning in early 2021.
  • Survey all OSD staff and families this month about the current, predominantly remote, learning model. Like surveys taken by families last spring, information gathered will help inform planning for the rest of this school year and into the future.

 

Again, thank you for your continued support. Keep an eye out in your email for the family survey to share your thoughts about remote learning this fall.

Thank you,

Communications and Community Relations
Olympia School District

 


 

OSD Message to Families: In-person learning update

November 6, 2020

 

Hello OSD families,

 

Last week we shared with you that the Thurston County health officer recommended that school districts hold off expanding hybrid in-person learning through today, November 6, to allow the county one extra week to monitor COVID-19 case counts before providing additional guidance.

Given a continued increase in community transmission rates, the health officer issued guidance this afternoon “strongly recommending” that school districts follow a distance learning model until January 2021 with the exception of in-person learning opportunities for small groups of six students with the highest needs.

As always, we will follow our local health department’s direction and refrain from expanding hybrid in-person learning until January 2021.

In addition to the increase in community transmission, Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Health Officer Dr. Dimyana Abdelmalek shared in today’s guidance that her recommendation for remote learning is necessary for multiple reasons. She referenced the following:

 

  • Since our COVID-19 rate increase began, we have seen an increase in outbreaks, including several instances in educational settings as well as long-term care facilities and other places of employment. This has further exacerbated the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
  • Our hospitals, which hold patients from our county and neighboring counties, have seen an increase in beds filled with patients suffering from COVID-19. Our public health capacity has stretched to meet community needs with this rise in cases and outbreaks but is not infinite. The ability to keep those who work and learn in our schools safe relies on our capacity to respond swiftly to positive cases and initiate rapid contact tracing to ensure people have the information they need to keep themselves and their communities safe and prevent spread, which has been successful for small cohorts of students.
  • Winter months pose significant challenges. As people spend more time indoors and the weather gets colder, there is an accompanying rise in viral respiratory illnesses, increasing the likelihood transmission rates will increase.

 

“My goal is for our K-12 students to return to school in a manner that is safe,” she wrote.

As we mentioned in our school district communication to you last week, while implementing a hybrid learning model for entire grade levels of students is not happening for now, we will continue to provide and look for ways to expand instruction to small groups of students with the highest needs. We will also continue to offer extracurricular activities, including strength and conditioning, to groups of six or fewer students. This is consistent with the latest health department guidance and the Washington State Department of Health Decision Tree for the Provision of In-Person Learning updated this month.

We appreciate your patience with the guidance and will continue to keep you updated with any new developments. As Dr. Abdelmalek noted at the end of her letter today: “Our ability to reduce transmission rates to a level where it is safe for schools to resume rests on each of us doing our part to wear masks in public, stay home when we are sick, or have been instructed to isolate/quarantine, maintain physical distance of six feet or more from non-household members, avoid large gatherings, and follow proper respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene.”

 

 

Thank you,

Communications and Community Relations Department
Olympia School District

 


 

OSD Message to Families: Health & Safety

October 30, 2020

 

Hello OSD Families,

Last Friday, in our weekly update to families, we shared information about OSD health and safety protocols. We shared a link to a comprehensive school district resource document that details cleaning, physical distancing, face coverings and other safety protocols that staff, families and community members need to follow in our schools and support buildings.

In that message, we noted that we would follow up this week with a video taken in one of our schools to illustrate many of the health and safety protocols outlined in the document. The video is ready for viewing and features images from school classrooms, hallways, playgrounds and more in preparation for when we are able to welcome more students back to in-person instruction.

 

 

We also announced last week that we would soon be launching an online COVID-19 wellness screening in Skyward Family Access. That new online system will begin this Monday, November 2 in an effort to expedite what is now a manual paper/pen attestation process.

As we transition to this new online screening process for families, please note the following:

 

  • Please complete the wellness screening every day your student boards a school bus or enters any of our schools or support buildings. We will notify you if this daily requirement changes.
  • The attestation should be completed at least one hour before your student arrives at the bus stop or at school.
  • You may continue to complete the wellness screening manually with paper and pen provided by a staff member on each school bus and at each school entry. As we transition to the new system, some students, including those in our athletic programs, may be asked to continue to screen on-site. Our goal is to eventually have everyone use this quick and easy online attestation system.
  • Students who do not have an attestation completed before they board the bus or arrive at school will be physically distanced from others, screened at school, and their families will be notified. As an extra step to assist us in this process, the district is installing portable stand-up thermometer machines in each school entry for students, staff and community members who have not taken their temperature as part of the daily attestation process. These temperature units are beginning installation today and will be completed on Monday.
  • Student wellness screening information will be given to the Transportation department for students scheduled to ride the school bus, and to school staff for students scheduled to arrive for in-person learning or services on their campus.

 

While it may seem odd timing to share information about health and safety protocols just a day after we shared with you that the county has continued a hold on the expansion of in-person learning and a likely longer-term delay in moving to hybrid, we are sending this message for several reasons:

 

  • We have small groups of students coming into our schools daily, including students in special education and with other high needs, as well as those participating in extracurricular activities. Our classrooms, restrooms, hallways and playgrounds are in use now and featured in the video we are sharing with you today.
  • As health guidance allows and we have staff available, we will continue to serve more small groups of students with high needs and eventually expand in-person hybrid learning to larger class levels of students.
  • We want families to practice and get used to the new online system before larger groups of students are able to be served on-site.

 

In closing, please remember to keep your student home if they are ill. Also, if your student rides the bus to school and you accompany them to the bus stop, please remember to wear a face covering and have your student do the same.

Thank you,

Communications and Community Relations
Olympia School District

 


 

Thurston County Health Update re: In-Person Learning

October 29, 2020

 

Earlier this month we shared with you that our district paused the expansion of hybrid in-person learning for preschool and kindergarten students based on guidance from Thurston County Public Health and Social Services (PHSS). The county health officer asked all Thurston County school districts to refrain from expanding in-person learning for 14 days due to elevated COVID-19 case counts.

Today, PHSS Health Officer Dr. Dimyana Abdelmalek issued further guidance asking school districts to place in-person learning expansion on hold for another week (through Friday, November 6, 2020) as she continues to monitor case counts. If transmission rates remain above 75 cases per 100,000 people over 14 days for a majority of those days, Dr. Abdelmalek stated she will “recommend a return to distance learning for all students with the exception of cohort groups of five students with the highest need.” Read the full letter from Dr. Abdelmalek

As always, we will follow our local health department’s direction and refrain from expanding in-person learning for now.

Today’s announcement does not impact the small groups experiencing in-person learning currently in our schools. We will continue to provide in-person learning to some students with special needs and unique circumstances. We will also continue to offer extracurricular activities in small groups while adhering to established health and safety requirements.

While implementing a hybrid learning model for entire grade levels of students is not happening for now, we will continue to provide and look for ways to possibly expand instruction to small groups of students with the highest needs, as well as offer extracurricular activities in small groups of students. This is consistent with the latest health department guidance and the Washington State Department of Health Decision Tree for the Provision of In-Person Learning updated this month.

We will continue to update you as soon as we learn more from county health officials.

Thank you,

 


Weekly update including health & safety protocols

October 23, 2020

 

Hello OSD Families,

 

As we shared several weeks ago, our goal is to provide you with weekly updates about our plans for the expansion of in-person learning, as well as other related information.

 

In our communication to you last week, we shared the latest guidance from Thurston County health officials. The guidance released on October 14 strongly recommended that Thurston County school districts hold off expanding hybrid in-person learning for at least the next 14 days due to a persistent elevation in COVID-19 case counts. We expect to hear further guidance from the county health officer next week and will communicate the newest information with you when we get it.

 

In the meantime, our district continues to provide in-person learning in many of our schools to small groups of students with special needs and unique circumstances. We also continue to offer extracurricular activities in small groups while adhering to established health and safety requirements.

 

Health and Safety Protocols

As we await further guidance from health officials on expanding in-person learning, we want to make sure you have the most current information on OSD health and safety protocols. Much of this information is posted on our district website.

 

A comprehensive resource is the OSD COVID-19 Pandemic Return to Work Safety Plan 4.1. This 16-page document details cleaning, physical distancing, personal protective equipment and other safety protocols that staff, contractors and community members need to follow in our schools and support buildings based on guidelines set forth by the Washington State Department of Health, Office of the Governor and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, next week we plan to share with all families a slide presentation that includes video taken in one of our schools to illustrate many of the health and safety protocols included in this plan. The video features images from classrooms, playgrounds and school buses in preparation for welcoming more students back to in-person instruction.

 

COVID-19 Wellness Checks Move Online

We will soon launch an online COVID-19 wellness screening in Skyward Family Access in which families can complete an attestation for students before they arrive on campus. This will expedite what is now a manual paper/pen attestation process completed when families enter our buildings. More information about this process will be shared with families next week.

 

Daily Student Attendance Video

Finally, the Technology Department has created a brief 3-minute video for families about the daily student attendance check-in process. This instructional video describes the attendance process during remote learning. View the video

 

Thank you,


 

New county health guidance on in-person learning

October 15, 2020

 

Hello OSD families,

This is a quick note to share with you the latest guidance from Thurston County Public Health and Social Services (PHSS). The guidance released yesterday, October 14, “strongly” recommends Thurston County school districts hold off expanding hybrid in-person learning for at least the next 14 days due to a “persistent elevation” in COVID-19 case counts. After two weeks, the county health officer said she will evaluate health data to determine whether districts can slowly and carefully phase in more in-person learning.

This new guidance is consistent with information included in Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s video message shared with families earlier this week. In that video, Superintendent Murphy announced that the Olympia School District has put on hold plans to expand in-person learning this month to preschoolers and kindergartners in a hybrid model.

The latest guidance from county health officials does not prohibit our district from continuing to provide in-person learning for small groups of students with special needs and unique circumstances. Currently we are serving small groups of students with special needs in 10 of our schools. We will also continue to offer some extracurricular activities in small groups, including training and workouts that started on our high school campuses last week, while adhering to established health and safety requirements.

Below are links to the two PHSS letters released yesterday:

 

 

Thank you,

 


 

Video message from the Superintendent

October 13, 2020

 

Please watch the video message (below) from Superintendent Patrick Murphy, who announces a hold on the expansion of in-person learning in the Olympia School District.

 

 


 

Update on plans to expand in-person learning

October 9, 2020

 

Hello OSD families,

Last week we shared with families the Olympia School District’s plan to offer hybrid learning starting with preschool and kindergarten students on October 19, 2020. As a reminder, today, October 9, is the deadline for families of students in those grade levels to complete a form in Skyward Family Access indicating their preference to participate in hybrid learning or remain in full-time distance learning. For help logging in to Skyward Family Access, please read these instructions.

Early next week, we will communicate directly with families of preschoolers and kindergartners about next steps in the process, based on how they answered the questionnaire.

Since our communication last week with all of you, some families have expressed concern about moving forward with expanding in-person learning at a time when COVID-19 transmission rates have been on the rise in Thurston County. Superintendent Patrick Murphy addressed this concern at last night’s Olympia School Board meeting. Superintendent Murphy, as well as other area superintendents, meet weekly with Thurston County health officials to discuss current health data. At their most recent meeting, superintendents were informed that there is no change to the guidance for Thurston County schools at this time, but that could change depending on health data trends. Health officials also reiterated their strong recommendation to move slowly and carefully when phasing in onsite instruction.

While transmission rates in Thurston County have been increasing, currently area school districts fall within the “moderate” activity level on the Decision Tree for Provision of In-Person Learning during COVID-19. Based on the Decision Tree, school districts may “consider expanding in-person learning to elementary students.” The guidance also suggests “over time, consider adding hybrid in-person learning for middle or high school students if limited COVID transmission occurs in schools.”

Our ability to start hybrid learning on October 19, as well as expand to other grade levels every two to three weeks after that, is dependent on the following being within health official recommendations:

 

  • COVID-19 transmission rates;
  • Trends in cases and hospitalizations; and
  • Positivity rates in testing
    AND
  • The district has the capacity and ability to respond to our current situation and any changes in guidance from health and government officials.

 

Once we have the preferences from all of our preschool and kindergarten families and take the next few days to compare that to our staff’s ability to match up with those preferences, we will know if we have the capacity to respond. A cursory review of those two variables would suggest that it is not going to be an equal and compatible match that will require further review. 

Superintendent Murphy assured the school board and the community that we will move slowly and carefully with plans to reintroduce in-person learning, with the health and safety of students, staff and community at the forefront of our decision-making process. We will continue to keep families updated on our progress.

Thank you

 


 

Plans for in-person learning in OSD

October 2, 2020

 

Hello OSD families,

Last week we shared with you that Thurston County health officials issued guidance easing some restrictions on in-person learning. The county Health Officer stated that COVID-19 health data supports a “slow, careful, phased approach” to bringing students back on our campuses while prioritizing high-need students. We announced we would apply that guidance to our OSD school reopening plan. As such, we are surveying some families this week about their intention to access in-person learning, or continue in full-time distance learning.

Today we want to share with you our next steps, including a proposed timeline, for expanding in-person learning on our school campuses. The expansion of in-person learning will be done slowly and safely, following the guidance of health officials, while prioritizing high-need students including our youngest learners.

Given our current situation and community health data, we intend to offer a hybrid learning schedule starting with preschool and kindergarten students on October 19, 2020.

Between now and next Friday, October 9, we are asking families of preschoolers and kindergartners to fill out a questionnaire posted in Skyward Family Access (see login instructions at the end of this email). Families are asked to choose hybrid or full-time distance learning for their student(s). They are also given the opportunity to choose either option, hybrid OR 100% distance learning, if it means their child may be able to keep their current teacher.

Our goal is that we add more grade levels every two to three weeks, provided that the following are within health official recommendations:

 

  • COVID-19 transmission rates;
  • Trends in cases and hospitalizations; and
  • Positivity rates in testing
    AND
  • The district has the capacity and ability to respond to our current situation and any changes in guidance from health and government officials.

 

As we are able to add additional grade levels, like with preschool and kindergarten, families with students in those grades will also be asked to complete an online form indicating their preference for hybrid or distance learning.

 

To ensure adequate and stable staffing, once families make their choice whether to start in the hybrid model or remain in full-time distance learning, we are asking them to remain in their chosen model until the end of the semester on February 5, 2021.

The district will continue to adhere to all health and safety protocols, including requirements for physical distancing, handwashing/hand sanitizing, face coverings, daily health checks (attestation), ensure that employees have access to all necessary personal protective equipment, and more as outlined in the district’s reopening plan. Disposable masks will be available for students who need them.

Reminder: If you are the family of a preschooler or kindergartner, please don’t forget to complete the form posted in Skyward Family Access by next Friday, October 9. If you do not have an account or need help logging in to Skyward Family Access, please read these instructions.

We look forward to partnering with families as we prepare to shift to serving more students in person in our schools. Our plan is to communicate with families weekly to keep you up-to-date on plans for phasing in a hybrid learning schedule.

Thank you