Olympia School Board reconfirmed plans for in-person learning


The Olympia School District held a regular meeting last Thu., Jan. 28 via Zoom. The board reconfirmed plans to resume in-person learning for pre-school and kindergarten students under a hybrid plan that starts this Thursday.

Yesterday and today pre-school and kindergartens students visited their classrooms for brief  “meet and greet” sessions, according to Susan Gifford, Executive Director of Communications and Community Relations.

No announcements have been made yet about bringing students in Grades 1-12 back inside classrooms.

Special recognition for two recent graduates

 The district also offered special recognition and presentation of diplomas to two recent graduates.

Nik Gavrilov received his Olympia High School diploma from Principal Matt Grant. Gavrilov graduated from OHS following his transfer from Bothell High School; he moved to the United States from Bulgaria in the 10th grade.

Elmehdi Choubabi was congratulated by teacher David Glenn and administrator Karen Zarate for becoming the first graduate of Touchstone School’s high-school program. Mehdi, as he is known, attended seven different high schools prior to coming to Olympia.

Hybrid plan

Olympia’s hybrid plan, similar to other local districts, is to bring approximately half of each class to school two days each week, for example, Mondays and Thursdays, and the other half into classrooms on Tuesdays and Fridays, leaving Wednesdays for all-remote learning.

At the meeting, Superintendent Patrick Murphy provided more details about the upcoming hybrid attendance plan. He described the soft launch for both pre-school and kindergarten students as a way for teachers to meet with their new students and for students to be introduced to their teachers. Since this will be the first time many of these children will be at school, the idea is to give them a sense of comfort as they move into hybrid learning.

Subjects such as art and physical education are still be conducted remotely as Murphy deemed them higher risk. He noted how grateful he was for teachers committed to working in-person with special education students since last September and for the rest of the teachers who are working remotely.

Four simple rules

Superintendent Murphy also “four simple rules” to help minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 that will be observed at all schools.  The rules are:  

  1. Masking at all times
  2. Hand washing
  3. Gathering in small cohorts
  4. Temperature screening of staff and students as they enter buildings  

Bus transportation

District-provided bus transportation for typically developing pre-school and kindergarten students also resumes this week, but the district is encouraging parents to drive their kids to school to leave more social-distancing room on the buses.

 District Improvement Plan

The district’s strategic plan is driven by six student outcomes that the community developed in 2018 (see the image, above).  At board meetings, senior staff frequently report to the board about the status in meeting one of the outcomes.

At last week’s meeting, the topic was Outcome 2: Students will have the academic and life skills to pursue their individual career, civic and educational goals.

Inger Owen, Interim Director of Instructional Support and Autumn Lara, Executive Director of Elementary Education discussed the use of the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments to learn about grade-level gaps and support individuals’ needs.

According to Owen, from 2019 to 2020 the groups of students in Grades 3-8 increased their reading-level proficiency, while mathematics scores decreased. The assessments help teachers learn about student progress in time for them to provide additional learning supports for a particular subject.

“It's important to understand that currently, each elementary school is receiving funding [for assessing student progress] and … to provide certain data points, different tools you may use to meet the expectations and so MAP is one of them,” according to Lara.  


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