Letter posted on the Olympia School District Website.
Good evening OSD families and staff,
My apologies for the lateness of this message. This coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis continues to change rapidly, and today was no exception. As such, we want to provide you all with the latest information we have and share how we are responding in our school district, including one elementary school closure tomorrow, March 13, and the closure of all schools on Monday, March 16.
First, we want to share with everyone that we have reason to believe that an individual who has connections to Pioneer Elementary School has tested presumptive positive for COVID-19. While the results of the test have not been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), out of an abundance of caution we are closing Pioneer Elementary School tomorrow, Friday, March 13.
Additionally, Gov. Jay Inslee emphasized during a press conference this afternoon that schools statewide need to prepare contingency plans in the event of school closures. At the same time, he announced a mandatory six-week closure for the three largest counties north of us — King, Snohomish and Pierce counties.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal echoed the governor’s urgency in a statement posted on the agency website. “Schools and families throughout the rest of the state should be actively engaging in contingency planning now for potential closures in their region,” he said.
We recognize the sense of urgency in the governor’s direction today, and our district leadership continues to actively prepare for schools closing. We are reviewing creative ways to continue some services for students while at home. We have already developed a plan, for example, to make meals available to all students across our district, regardless of whether they qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.
Given the rapid pace of changing events, we need to be prepared sooner rather than later for more school closures for an extended period. Tomorrow we are encouraging students to take home personal belongings they might need over an extended break. While we are not encouraging students to clean out their desks; they may wish to take home clothing items such as coats or other personal belongings they want or need.
Additionally, if your child has any medicine in the school health room, we encourage parents/guardians who can do so to pick those up by the end of the school day tomorrow. For those unable to pick up medicines in person tomorrow, we will work out another suitable arrangement.
In the midst of planning for school closures as directed by the governor, today we began implementing a series of social distancing measures in an attempt to slow transmission of this virus. While not an exhaustive list, last night we shared many of these measures in our communication to families. We have a few updates to that messaging tonight. The SAT/ACT testing that was scheduled this Saturday at Olympia High School, for example, has since been canceled. Additionally, many of you have asked about Camp Cispus, and we have added that to our list of cancelations at this time.
Below is the most up-do-date list of social distancing measures:
Olympia School District will cancel or postpone the following
- School field trips. This includes all local, state and out-of-state field trips. (Local field trips include Olympia Junior Programs (OJP) trips to the Washington Center for the Performing Arts, as well as trips to Camp Cispus).
- Athletic games, concerts, dances, theater performances, school information nights and other after-school or evening events. Additionally, outside groups that had been scheduled by the Performing Arts Initiative to perform at school assemblies have been canceled. Evening events include parent group meetings (e.g. PTAs and PTOs).
- Facility Rentals (Buildings and Fields). This does not apply to before- or after-school childcare programs that rent our facilities, including YMCA and Boys and Girls Club.
- Staff travel (school-related), both in-state and out-of-state, unless approved by a supervisor as essential.
The Olympia School District will continue the following:
- Before- and after-school campus activities for students led by OSD staff, including club meetings, athletic practices and play practices.
- Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings.
As a reminder, health officials continue to stress that, individually, the most effective ways to prevent the spread of illness include:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
- Stay at home and away from others if you are feeling ill. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) advises if you have a fever and cough, stay home until your fever has been gone for 72 hours. DOH defines a fever as 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit and above.
Our district will continue to provide you with regular updates.
I want to thank our staff and families for their efforts and understanding during these unprecedented times.