Walla Walla students to begin school year remotely

Wahi Home Of The Blue Devils (1)

WALLA WALLA, Wash. — Most students in Walla Walla will begin the school year with remote learning, the school district announced Wednesday.

Walla Walla Public Schools is launching a distance learning program with plans to promptly pivot to in-person instruction through its AM/PM schedule as soon as local COVID-19 infection rates meet state guidelines for safety. Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith says the safety of staff, students and families is the district’s top priority.

“While we developed plans to bring students back for in-person instruction to start the school year, we continued to explore and communicate the possibility of a remote start if local COVID-19 cases did not subside,” said Superintendent Smith. “We have worked for months on a robust program we are calling Comprehensive Distance Learning 2.0, an engaging and interactive learning experience developed exclusively for Walla Walla Public Schools students.”

The school district describes the program as a “vast improvement” over last spring’s model. It features daily live virtual learning for all students, state-of-the-art digital curriculum and access to Chromebooks and materials for all students. Under the Distance Learning 2.0 model, students will receive approximately half of their instruction in a synchronous online setting with their classroom teachers, including daily, scheduled classroom instruction over videoconferencing from their teacher(s). Students will complete their remaining instruction in a distance learning format from home.

Teachers and support staff will be in their school buildings to deliver Distance Learning. 2.0 to support a traditional school day schedule and experience for students remotely. Attendance will be taken daily and all students will be checked out a Chromebook to support their learning.

“Our students in the Comprehensive Distance Learning 2.0 Program will interact live with their Walla Walla teachers daily,” said Superintendent Smith. “Our goal is to personalize instruction in all subject areas to maximize the learning experience.”

Distance Learning 2.0 at a glance

Transitional Kindergarten – Elementary

All Transitional Kindergarten and elementary students will participate in at least two live virtual lessons with their teachers daily. Core instruction, extension learning and specific individualized instruction in areas such as special education, EL dual, and Tier 2 supports will be provided live as well.

In addition, comprehensive learning experiences provided by school specialists (PE, music), high quality virtual learning in areas such as science and social studies and optional exploratory programs in areas such as typing and coding will be available. The district has also purchased an online Reading A-Z and Raz Kids subscriptions for all students, providing access to grade level reading materials online in both English and Spanish.

Chromebooks (and when needed, wifi hotspots), at-home supplies and supplementary materials will be provided to each student to support their comprehensive Distance Learning 2.0 experience.

Middle and High School

Middle and high school students will attend daily live virtual learning every morning. In the afternoon they will apply their learning with three hours of independent coursework. Students will attend periods 1-3 on one day and periods 4-6 the next, alternating every day. In the afternoon, teachers will be available for independent support, may arrange for small group activities during period-specific office hours and will be available/making contact daily with students during open office hours.

Chromebooks (and when needed, wifi hotspots) and necessary supplementary materials will be provided to each student to support their comprehensive Distance Learning 2.0 experience. Additionally, students attending SEATech Skills Center and specific CTE/Visual Arts classes at WaHi may arrange for open lab access to apply their virtual learning.

Other in-person programs

The district will offer special education students in self-contained programs an on-site experience at reduced classroom sizes in order to meet their Individual Education Plan requirements. SEATech Skills Center staff will offer onsite student lab hours for five or less students in an area. CTE/Visual Arts will also offer onsite student lab hours for hands-on courses for five students or less in an area. For families with transitional kindergarten and kindergarten students, the district will plan an in-person orientation the week of September 8-11. The kindergarten orientation includes individual parent-teacher-student conferences and a program overview. Comprehensive cleaning, screening and safety measures will be in place for all in-person experiences.

Walla Walla Online

This option is for families who do not wish to have their children return to school for on-site, in-person learning in the 2020-2021 school year. Registration is currently open for Walla Walla Online by visiting the website: https://wallawallaonline.org/

Walla Walla Public Schools has also developed a roadmap for safely reopening its schools based on five color-coded stages linked to local COVID-19 conditions. Red is the most restrictive stage, with Blue being a full-day return to traditional in-person experience for all students with continued safety measures in place. The district is currently in the orange stage which is the second most restrictive phase. Yellow allows for in-person instruction for PK-2 through an AM/PM model and Green allows a districtwide AM/PM schedule to be implemented.