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Walla Walla schools gear up for closures

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More information from area school districts will come as the COVID-19 coronavirus situation evolves, but officials have been planning how to feed and care for children while schools are closed.

At Walla Walla Public Schools, Superintendent Wade Smith said after students today attend their last in-person classes — at least through April 24 — his teachers are ready to continue educating students.

The effort to slow the spread of coronavirus is commendable but closing for a minimum of six weeks is unprecedented, Smith said.

“We acknowledge the anxiety this may cause our students, especially our seniors who are focused on graduation, and those students who depend on WWPS for critical services. We also recognize the burden this will place on our staff and working families.”

He and other administrators have been preparing for this possibility for weeks, Smith said.

On Tuesday, the first day of campus closures, the district will release information in video and written formats, announcing programming and services for students and families throughout the temporary shutdown.

All WWPS students can get a free lunch, beginning Tuesday and continuing through the closure, including spring break. Distribution will be available at school and community locations, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Monday-Friday.

For meal sites, go to ubne.ws/33kUfmO.

The sack meals include lunch and breakfast for each child, and meet federal nutrition guidelines. Delivery services will be available on a case-by-case basis as needed, the district said.

When Gov. Jay Inslee ordered schools closed, he also included a provision to provide childcare services to specific families, Smith said.

WWPS will offer free, student-aged childcare supervision at all school sites, 8 a.m- 3 p.m.

Eligible children include current WWPS students, as follows:

  • Preschool through high school, whose parents or guardians are first responders who need childcare.

The district has expanded the definition of first responders to people who work for a medical provider or in the medical field, police officers and critical penitentiary personnel, firefighters, rescuers, military personnel or key public works employees.

  • Students identified as living in homeless and students with significant disabilities.
  • The childcare program will follow social distancing guidelines, offer food services and provide a learning environment. Transportation will be available upon request. For more information, contact Pam Clayton
  • at 509-526-6730 or at
  • childcare@wwps.org.

The Union-Bulletin will continue to update information about area school districts. Look for more on Tuesday.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 509-526-8322.

Sheila Hagar has written for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin since 1998. Sheila covers education in the Walla Walla Valley. She also writes a column, Home Place, usually highlighting family life and slices of local life.

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