||COVID-19 Distance Learning Program Update – By Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith
I hope that all of you are keeping safe during these extraordinary times we find ourselves in. The incredible impact COVID-19 continues to have on our students, families, and community is no doubt significant. As it has been over a week since I last communicated to you at large, I felt a brief update regarding the amazing work our staff and students have accomplished was due.
I remain humbled and awestruck by the accomplishments from my colleagues over recent days. As most of you are aware, in less than a week we transformed our educational delivery system to support 6,000 preschool through high school students, implementing a program to ensure ALL of our children maintain connection with their teachers, that learning continues, and students remain on track for graduation and beyond.
This Monday (and every Monday throughout this closure) over 2,600 individual learning packets were/will be picked up by preschool and elementary parents. Created individually by classroom teachers and specialists, every student receives a customized learning packet that contains lessons, activities, and learning components to ensure all of our youngest learners continue to remain on track. The smiles on students' faces when they picked up their packets on Monday was priceless. As students eagerly read individual notes from their teachers, parent in tow sprinting down the sidewalk, many couldn't wait to get home to tear into their weekly learning activities planned for them. We are even going so far as to provide 2,600 jump ropes this week for students to ensure they remain active while at home. Our transportation department stepped up as well and hand-delivered packets to families who were unable to pick them up due to lack of transportation.
For our middle and high school students, our teachers worked around the clock to convert our entire secondary learning program onto an online platform (Google Classroom). This was an extraordinary accomplishment where all 3500 students access their 6-7 classes daily, interacting with their teachers and classmates online. Students are participating in real-time online chats with their teachers and peers, teachers are recording lessons online, and students are submitting homework and taking quizzes/tests over the platform. To ensure EVERY student had access, regardless of family circumstances, we got out well ahead of the curve before school closures were announced. We surveyed students before schools were closed, inquiring who didn't have access to technology or the internet from home. We quickly acquired 500 wifi hotspots (that are now sold out nationwide), pulled together over 1,000 Chromebooks, and on Monday distributed them to every middle and high school student who didn't have access. Our IT Department was extraordinary in creating grab-and-go technology bags for each student to ensure that every student’s learning could continue.
Other notable accomplishments that you may have heard about include our incredible food service staff. They ramped up overnight and are serving nearly 1,900 meals per day at 12 grab-and-go sites across our community. With the help of our Transportation Department they are providing nearly 100 door side deliveries to families without transportation. Additionally, our classified staff rose to the call, providing childcare to over 100 students whose families serve in critical access/first responder situations. Without this support, many of our community's doctors, nurses, and safety personnel would be forced to stay at home, unable to provide the critical care that we know is needed during this crisis.
Although our district stepped up without hesitation to address these unprecedented times, I can tell you that what we have accomplished is far from the norm across our state. You should all be very proud of your local school district and the incredible people who serve it. Please take the time to thank a teacher or support staff when you see them. They have all gone above and beyond the call and serve as an example for the other 296 districts across the state, many of whom are still trying to figure out what they are going to do.
Although we are off to a great start, we know the coming weeks and months won’t be easy. Whether this closure is short term, or will last longer, we know there will be challenges; families will forget to pick up and return packets, technology won't always work as planned, and students will long for the face-to-face connection with their teachers, coaches and peers. I continue to reiterate to our staff and community that now is the time to rely on each other and our support staff. Know that our counselors, intervention specialists, and mental health staff are here to assist our students, especially those most vulnerable. If you know of a student or family struggling, please reach out to us and we will do everything in our power to assist. It won’t be easy but we can do this!
Please be safe, keep an eye on your family, neighbors and our youth, and be sure to care for yourself.
||School construction projects given green light to operate during COVID-19 closures – more local contractors awarded projects
On 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 Contractor 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 the 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 include upgraded sewer, domestic water and fire supply to meet code requirements, replacing outdated electrical transformer infrastructure, and fiber connectivity for communications and technology.”
||Elementary/preschool packet drop off and pick up continues Monday
DISTANCE LEARNING WEBSITE
Parents with elementary or preschool children are reminded to drop off their child’s learning packet and pick up the new one at their school Monday, March 30 from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Preschool/Elementary Packet Pick Up/Drop Off Procedures:
• Weekly learning packets will be available for pick-up every Monday at your child’s school (except Spring Break)
• Parents will return the previous week’s packet at the same time
• Pick up/Drop off times: 7:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
• Location: Packets will be at the front door to your child’s elementary school
• Parents come to the front door of the school and staff will assist in retrieving the packets
• Families who are unable to pick up their student learning packets may have a friend or neighbor pick up the packet on your behalf
• Arrangements can be made with your local school for home delivery of packets if transportation or access is not available
• Learning Packet Pick up Schedule: March 30, April 13, and April 20 (no packets during Spring Break)
||Distance Learning Program website provides vast support resources
DISTANCE LEARNING WEBSITE
Walla Walla Public Schools has created a Distance Learning Program website to support learning during the minimum six-week campus closure due to COVID-19. The Student and Parent Learning Support tab has tips for creating a learning schedule and space. It discusses attendance and completion of assignment expectations. There are also numerous supplemental resources for parents to support learning activities, mental health needs and GOOGLE services. The district is committed to providing a program supporting the ability to master grade-level content, earn credits, remain on track for graduation, and keep students and families connected with their teachers.
||Meals for all and childcare for protected groups offered
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.
Meal services are available at school and community locations for all students Monday-Friday, free of charge, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Meal service will continue during Spring Break. 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 (South side entrance – back of school)
• 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 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Childcare Services offered for critical care providers
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 is providing 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, critical prison 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 email@example.com
||Technology Helpdesk supports Distance Learning Program
Technology Director Forrest Baker and his technology support team have developed a Distance Learning Technical Support webpage and Help Sheet webpage:
The Tech Team is also operating a Helpdesk for educators, parents or students who may have technical questions.
• Tech Helpdesk by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: (509) 527-3010
• Helpdesk hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday
||21st Century program launches virtual afterschool program
This week 21st Century Program Director Brent Cummings announced the launching of a new Virtual Afterschool Program for students in the 21st Century program. Visit the site at: https://wallawallaafterschool.com/
The website serves as the program’s hub for all its different programs for students to access their daily content. The content changes daily.
“We have had tremendous interactions and engagement with lots of youth at each site,” said Cummings.
Cummings updated the program’s virtual distance learning program to an “open” enrollment style so everything is public access and available to all WWPS students.
“It was the right thing to do to help our students,” said Cummings.
||Census 2020 Update by Cindy Widmer
Dear Walla Walla Families:
I feel so fortunate to have raised my family in this Valley and for the privilege of being a WWPS parent and volunteer. You should all be proud of the part you, your leaders and your families play in this thriving district, especially in such challenging times. Today I reach out to encourage you to respond to CENSUS 2020 if you have not already done so.
The CENSUS affects us all in many ways, but it affects our children in BIG ways! This count, taken every ten years, impacts the federal funds our community receives each year for programs and services critical for our 6,000+ students and their families: Special Education; Head Start; classroom technology; Title I education for disadvantaged students; food assistance for breakfast and lunch; children’s health programs; and much more.
Newborn babies and children under 5 are often missed on the census with consequences that can impact them and their tiny neighbors for years through early childhood education and critical resources for all young children. So, please remember to count anyone living in your home born before April 1st!
For those of you with college students home for this break: on-campus living students will be counted by their colleges/universities; off-campus living students may respond from anywhere but must use the address of their college residence, even if temporarily living elsewhere.
Now is an excellent time to respond, you’ll only need to “borrow” the internet from your children for under ten minutes!
• Go to http://www.my2020census.gov to respond with or without an ID number provided by the census bureau to your home, or
• call 1-844-330-2020 (which will also direct you to other numbers in 11 languages or to request a paper form to be mailed), or
• complete and return a paper form you may have received in the mail.
Reminders will be mailed in late March, mid-April, and late April. Depending on the COVID-19 situation, census takers will begin visiting homes of non-responders sometime in May.
Thank you for sharing this beautiful Valley with my family and reminding me every day that WE ALL COUNT!
For more information go to www.bmccc2020.org or email@example.com
Go to http://www.my2020census.gov to respond with or without an ID number provided by the census bureau to your home or call 1-844-330-2020 (which will also direct you to other numbers in 11 languages or to request a paper form to be mailed) or complete and return a paper form you may have received in the mail.
The Census Bureau is still recruiting for field workers. While they had made job offers to all the field workers they needed, they did suspend the fingerprinting and background clearance process with their March 18 announcement. They now expect larger attrition rates as a result of COVID-19 so they plan to overhire. Bureau officials encourage people to continue to apply online (www.2020census.gov/jobs).
||The Health Center offers telehealth services
The Health Center will no longer be serving clients and families in person due to COVID-19. The Health Center will continue serving students and families through telehealth services, available on a smart phone or computer. Please call 509-525-0704 or email Help@thehealthcenterww.org to talk to a care coordinator or schedule an appointment.
In-person services will resume as soon as school campuses open.
||City Parks & Rec Update
All Walla Walla Parks & Recreation programs and facility reservations are cancelled or delayed through Friday, April 24. If possible, it is our intention to resume the following programs when health authorities advise it is safe to do so; Blue Mountain Girls Softball, Blue Mtn Pre-Tee ball, Warrior Soccer Academy, Adult Co-ed Soccer. The Parks and Recreation office and Carnegie, including the Pottery Studio, are closed to the public.
Please visit our website at www.wwpr.us for updated information regarding recreation programs as it becomes available. If you have questions, feel free to contact the Parks & Recreation Office:
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