Safety Tip of the Week: Don’t take your hands for granted!

One pair of scissors opened as if laying on a table

This week, Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, shares information about hand safety in the workplace.

Can you imagine not being able to work with your hands? Hand injuries can vary from minor cuts or irritation to more serious complications.

Well over a million hand injuries occur reach year, and 20 percent of disabling workplace injuries involve the hands. Some injury types are:

  1. Lacerations (Paper cutters, scissors) 63%
  2. Crush (Doors) 13%
  3. Avulsion 8%
  4. Puncture (Bites, staplers) 6%
  5. Fracture (Falls) 5%
  6. Repetitive Stress 5%

It is generally accepted in heavy industry that workers will find dangerous work environments that expose employees to potential injury. But it is important to recognize the potential risks found in everyday classroom and office environments. These environments can also lead to injuries if safe work practices are not followed. Learn to avoid these common hazards:

  • Know the hazards and dangers in the job to be done and use the appropriate tool to help if there is one.
  • Be aware of pinch points or potential for cuts (boxes, paper cutters, doors, box knives, staplers). Make sure sharp objects are properly stored.
  • Be aware of hot areas (hot water dispensers, coffee pots, food heated in microwaves). Use hot pads and cups with handles.
  • Be aware of rotating or moving surfaces (carts or computers on wheels: C.O.W.s)
  • Be aware of other interactions that could potentially open up opportunities for bites or scratches.
  • Clean up spills immediately so no one can slip and fall.

Department of Retirement hosts live webinar January 30

The Department of Retirement Systems Education & Outreach team will host a live webinar covering Public Employee Benefits (PEBB) at retirement on Tuesday, January 30 beginning at 4 p.m.  If you would like to attend, please click on this link to join the meeting about 10-15 minutes prior to the start of the webinar so you can check your connection and sound.  If you have sound or connection problems, please call (360) 664-7005.
The webinar is expected to take a full hour, which may not allow time for questions. If you have questions about the PEBB program, please call 1-800-200-1004 (711 through Washington Relay).
The webinar will not be recorded.  If you are unable to attend the webinar, the PEBB website provides an online video library which you can view at your convenience.

Pioneer mini-building dedication is set on Wednesday, January 17

Pioneer Elementary mini-building under construction in November with field in the foregroundThe newly constructed two-story Pioneer Elementary mini-building will open its doors to students on January 17 and be the site of a dedication ceremony later the same day.

The community is welcome to join Pioneer Elementary students and staff, Superintendent Patrick Murphy, school board members, district staff, and the architect and contractor in a ribbon-cutting ceremony starting at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, January 17.

Guests are welcome to enjoy cake and walk through the new classroom building following the ribbon cutting.

Pioneer Elementary is the first of five, two-story classroom mini-buildings to open its doors. Construction continues on the Hansen, Roosevelt, McLane and Centennial elementary school mini-buildings, approved by voters as part of the 2016 school bond.

Each of the mini-buildings has eight classrooms, a music room, a commons/general classroom space for multiple uses, small learning areas between classrooms for small-group teaching and learning, a musical instrument storage area, and an administrative office and storage area. Each building also has a covered walkway connecting it to the main school building at each site, an elevator, two sets of stairs, and restrooms on each floor.

Exterior finishes and colors are designed to coordinate with the main one-story school buildings on the same campus.

Send us kudos about colleagues in new ‘Everyday Heroes’ feature blog post

Everyday Hero red apple outline

Think about the last time one of your colleagues made a difference in the life of a student, a parent, a volunteer, a fellow staff member, or a community member. This happens every day in our district in every school and in every department/support building.

We want to share your stories among all employees in this staff blog as an ongoing regular blog post to celebrate our OSD Everyday Heroes!

Please take a few moments to give a shout-out to an employee in any school or department who has done something you feel is deserving of encouragement and praise.

The process is simple:

  • Email the Communications and Community Relations Department ( a few sentences, and no more than 200 words, about why the person deserves recognition. It’s easiest to write as if speaking directly to the colleague, such as “Thank you for helping with…” or “I really appreciated when you…”
  • Write Everyday Heroes in the subject heading of the email.
  • Include your first and last name as the person submitting the comments.
  • Include the first and last name of the OSD employee you are recognizing.
  • Include the job title and work location (school or department) of the person you are recognizing.

All submissions will be posted in this blog on a weekly basis and archived each week.

We can’t wait to hear about all of our Everyday Heroes, because we know that every day our bus drivers, child nutrition staff, custodial employees, teachers, paraeducators, school and district office staff, and others are doing amazing work on behalf of students.

School board invites input on policy review process

The Olympia School Board is shown during discussion about policy at the January 8 school board meetingOne of the Olympia School Board’s responsibilities is to establish policies, which are essentially governing documents by which the Olympia School District operates.

Last summer, the board set a goal to review all district policies, starting with the 1000 series that pertain to the Olympia School District Board of Directors. The board completed that series in fall and is currently reviewing the 4000 series: Community Relations.

The board invites students, employees and the community to share feedback, including questions or comments, about the policies. Input will be shared with the school board as it moves forward with the policy review process.

Policies currently being reviewed are posted on a new “Board Policy Review” Web page on the Olympia School District website. A dedicated email address has also been set up for the community to comment or ask questions about the policies:

The board held a first reading on five board policies during the January 8, 2018 board meeting. These five policies will return for a second reading and possible action at the next regularly scheduled board meeting on January 22, 2018. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at Garfield Elementary School. The five policies currently being reviewed are:

  • 4110 Citizen Advisory Committees and Task Forces
  • 4310 District Relationships with Law Enforcement and Other Governmental Agencies
  • 4315 Release of Information Concerning Sexual and Kidnapping Offenders
  • 4320 Cooperative Programs with Other Districts and Public Agencies
  • 4400 Election Activities

There are several ways to provide input in this board policy review process:

  • The public is welcome to comment about policies or other topics of interest during Olympia School Board meetings. Time is set aside for public comment near the start of open board meetings, and those who wish to speak are asked to sign in on a form placed near the entrance to each meeting.
  • Email comments or questions about the policies being reviewed to the new district email address especially created for this current board policy review process. The following email is monitored daily, and questions will be answered in the order they are received:
  • Contact Pam Barker, executive assistant to the Olympia School District Superintendent, at 360-596-6114.
  • Email or call Olympia School Board members directly. Contact information for board members, including their phone numbers and email addresses, is featured with their photos on the Board of Directors Web page.

Once the school board has finished reviewing the 4000 series, it will move to a new series. The district’s complete compilation of policies include:

  • 1000 series – Board of Directors
  • 2000 series – Instruction
  • 3000 series – Students
  • 4000 series – Community Relations
  • 5000 series – Personnel
  • 6000 series – Management Support

OSDEF continues to accept educator grant applications

OSDEF Logo with image of stick figures of an adult and children and the name of the Foundation beneathThe Olympia School District Education Foundation (OSDEF) invites educators to continue to submit grant applications for the 2017-18 school year. Applications may be submitted at any time of the year and will be considered until the funds are depleted.

Grant requests will be evaluated based on commitment to the OSDEF mission: to provide programs and services to students and partners with teachers to enhance educational success and promote learning for all students of the Olympia School District.

Grant categories, guidelines and applications are available online on the OSDEF website. Questions may be directed to Bev Sperry in the OSDEF office. She can be reached by email at or at the office phone, (360) 596-6110.

Department of Retirement Systems offers webinars January 16-18

The Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) Education & Outreach team will provide the following webinars January 16–18:
January 16
  • 8:30 a.m. – Returning to work after retirement
  • 11 a.m. – Getting ready for retirement (within two years)
  • 1 p.m. – Distributions from Plan 3 (PERS, SERS, TRS)

January 17

  • 8:30 a.m. – Plan 2 (PERS, SERS, TRS)
  • 11:30 a.m. – Plan 3 (PERS, SERS, TRS)
  • 3:30 p.m. – Applying for retirement (a tutorial for the online application)

January 18

  • 8:30 a.m. – Benefit payment options
  • 2:30 p.m. – Washington State Deferred Compensation Program
  • 4 p.m. – Plan choice (PERS, SERS, TRS)
Additional webinars are offered on the online  DRS webinar schedule. If you plan to attend a webinar, we recommend you join about 10-15 minutes prior to the start of the webinar so you can check your connection and sound.  If you are having connection or sound problems, please call (360) 664-7005.
DRS updates the webinar schedule every 3-4 months.  Select this link if you would like to be notified when the DRS webinar schedule page is updated. If unable to attend any of the webinars listed, many of the topics are covered by viewing an online seminar video.
This is also a reminder that some members of PERS, SERS and TRS Plan 2 have an option to transfer to Plan 3 this month (January).  If you have the option to transfer, we encourage you to attend the Plan Choice webinar on Thursday, January 18 at 4 pm.

Learn more about who qualifies to transfer from Plan 2 to Plan 3 on the DRS website.
The Department of Retirement Systems Education and Outreach also provides one-on-one assistance at its agency in Tumwater.  Employees may visit the office and meet with a Retirement Specialist anytime during normal business hours.  No appointment is necessary — employees may just walk in.  If unable to visit the office, please call 1-800-547-6657 (the agency Skypes if requested).  If an employee is within a year of retirement, DRS recommends they request an Official Benefit Estimate before they meet with a Specialist.  This can be done online at or by phone.