Additional workshops set on creating accessible content and videos

Workshop sign

The Communications and Community Relations Department is offering additional Zoom workshops on creating accessible documents and videos. Learn how to incorporate accessibility into your workflow and efficiently create accessible content to share online. Staff are also welcome to bring their existing documents and brainstorm on how to create accessible versions for the web.

Creating Accessible Content

This one-hour course offers a broad overview of the components of accessibility, as well as how to create accessible documents to share online. Authoring tools covered include Microsoft Word, Google Documents, Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides and more.

Enhancing the Accuracy of Automatically-Generated Captions

Interested in creating accessible videos to share with our community? Attendees of this workshop will learn how to leverage YouTube’s speech recognition software to efficiently create captions. Tips include increasing the accuracy of the automatic captioning, how to edit the captions for grammar and spelling and how to correctly format captions for sounds or music.

If you have additional accessibility tips or questions, please reach out to Robert Hardy, the district’s website accessibility specialist.

DRS public records request notification

This week the Olympia School District was notified by the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems about a public records request they received from the Seattle Times concerning information about all members of the state’s retirement systems, including all retirees and inactive members, for the period July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020.

DRS has asked that we notify our employees of this request and that March 19, 2021 is the date DRS plans to produce responsive records to the Seattle Times.

Please note that this records request was not made to the Olympia School District but to the Department of Retirement Systems. Questions about petitioning the court for injunction relief should be directed to the Department of Retirement Systems at (360) 664-7000 or 1 (800) 547-6657.

School Board proclaims Feb. 1-5 Black Lives Matter at School Week

Black Lives Matter at School Logo, including face with a mask, and the words "A Week of Action. A Year of Purpose. A Lifetime of Practice.

The Olympia School Board has proclaimed that the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action will be recognized in OSD schools February 1-5, 2021.

Board members took turns reading the proclamation during their January 14 meeting to support the national campaign, which first began in Seattle in 2016 and has since spread across the nation.

The school board proclamation states in part that “school systems have a responsibility to their students and the communities they serve to nurture young people who have the courage and skills to confront personal, systemic and societal bias and recognize the many types of privilege that exist in our society.”

The proclamation also “encourages educators, students and families to incorporate the 13 pillars of the Black Lives Matter movement into their discussions about race and privilege all year long by teaching a Black Lives Matter at School lesson, showing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in our attire, attending an event in support of racial equity, singing songs that acknowledge our history of oppression and the struggle for justice, reading a book that challenges our world view, making art that celebrates the diversity of our community, listening to the experiences of people who are different from us and talking with our children about how each of us can work to build a more just and equitable society.”

View the full proclamation

COVID-19 Vaccination Information

Person getting a vaccine

A vaccination against COVID-19 is likely a high priority for most of us personally, especially for our loved ones at risk of higher impact from the infection. The State Department of Health (DOH) has developed a plan for phasing eligibility for the vaccination, and this eligibility design has changed a couple of times, as more information becomes available. At the same time, supply of the vaccine is limited, and difficult to obtain. This article is intended to share information for those interested in obtaining a vaccine.

The latest eligibility guidelines updated on January 18, 2021 can be found at the DOH Vaccine Allocation Prioritization webpage K-12 employees over age 50 are eligible for a vaccine in phase 1B-Tier 2; K-12 employees under age 50 are eligible for a vaccine in phase 1B-Tier 4. As of January 18 and this writing, phase 1A-Tier 1 individuals are eligible to receive a vaccination.

The following phases relate to educational employees:

DOH Phase 1A-1 Guidance (Eligible Now)

  • All people 65 years and older (about half of whom have comorbidities that increase risk for severe outcomes if infected with COVID)
  • People 50 years and older in a multigenerational (2 or more generations) household. These individuals would be at risk either due to:
    • Vulnerability – specifically, an older adult or elder who cannot live independently and is being cared for by a relative or in-home caregiver or being cared for by someone who works outside the home;
    • Risk of exposure – specifically, an older adult or elder who is living with and taking care of kinship (along the lines of a grandparent with a grandchild).
    • This group does not include an older adult who is able to live independently and is taking care of the individual’s kinship/children.

DOH Phase 1B-2 Guidance

  • K-12 educators and staff 50 years and older who are working at the school (i.e., not remote workers)
  • This category should consider the full spectrum of workers including administrators, environmental services staff, maintenance workers, school bus drivers, paraeducators, and all of who are essential to child care and education.
  • This group should not include those who are working remotely or in a role where they can practice being socially distant.

DOH Phase 1B-4 Guidance

  • Critical workers under age 50 with significantly high risk of exposure and transmission in congregate settings. See Phase 1b – Tier 2 for description of congregate settings to be considered.

Kaiser Permanente Health Plan Enrollees

As of Tuesday, January 19 our employer representative let us know that Kaiser had expanded its vaccine eligibility to Phase 1B-1 (slightly further along than the DOH website indicates).

Kaiser Permanente Enrollees can follow the following instructions to obtain a vaccination appointment:

  • If you believe you meet the criteria for the current phase (1B-1), go to and complete an e-visit. The e-visit option is available to you by signing into your own account or by visiting and looking for the link pictured below.
Person typing on a computer
  • If the e-visit determines that you meet the criteria for the current phase, you will be directed to a website where you will be able to make an appointment to receive the first vaccine dose and an appointment for the second dose (2 doses are needed) that must be given a few weeks later.
  • COVID-19 vaccinations will be given at select Kaiser Permanente sites by appointment only. You will need to return to the same site for the second dose of the vaccine. If you believe you are in the current phase group and don’t have computer access, call 1‑800‑352‑3610 for assistance.

NON-Kaiser Members

Kaiser hopes to be able to fully open this process up to non-members ASAP.  As our Kaiser employer representative shares information, we will share this with you also.

District Sponsored Vaccine Clinic

The district is actively advocating for and planning for the ability to host a mass vaccination effort. As supply of vaccines to our Thurston County Public Health Department, private providers, and Kaiser increases, know that we are advocating for these providers to use our property/facility and logistical support to bring a vaccination clinic directly to you.

Use Grackle’s Export to PDF feature when creating accessible PDFs

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about how to correctly export an accessible PDF when using Grackle.

Grackle is a powerful tool, available to all OSD staff, that simplifies the creation of accessible documents using Google Docs or Slides. Users of Docs or Slides can launch Grackle, scan their documents for accessibility concerns, and export tagged, accessible PDFs, which is ideal for posting to the web.

While regular users of Google Docs and Slides may be familiar with creating PDF versions of their documents by going to File > Download > PDF Document, this unfortunately does not create accessible PDFs. To create an accessible PDF, be sure to use Grackle’s Export to PDF feature.

Grackle Slides screenshot - Export to PDF is selected.

Selecting this option will create a ready to post PDF version of the file within your Google Drive.

General guides on using both Grackle Docs and Slides are available on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page. If you have any questions about using Grackle, or other accessibility workflows, please reach out to Robert Hardy, the district’s website accessibility specialist.

Department of Retirement Systems offers ‘Nearing Retirement’ Seminars

Person typing on a laptop computer

Is retirement around the corner? The Department of Retirement Systems’ Education & Outreach team offers “Nearing Retirement” Seminars. The next seminar is Saturday, January 30, 2021.

Although the Nearing Retirement Seminars are open to all employees, they are designed for those who are within five years of retirement. Basic retirement plan information will not be provided at these seminars, but it’s important to understand the basics of your plan prior to attending.  To brush up, select your retirement system and watch the video:

Plan 1 PERS
Plan 1 TRS
Plan 2 SERS, TRS
Plan 3 SERS, TRS

We also encourage you to review the following article: Resignation timing affects health and pension benefits for school employees and teachers.

For more information about the Nearing Retirement seminar-webinars and how to join, select this link.  Be advised while you can pre-register, you don’t have to. From the seminar page, just select ‘Join’ 10-15 minutes prior to start.  Unable to attend?  Watch the seminar videos at a time that is more convenient. 

Ignore vendor email offering to discuss retirement benefits

Caution cone sits on computer keyboard

Recently you may have received an email from an outside vendor stating that as an Olympia School District employee you are eligible to schedule a phone call or teleconference meeting with a representative regarding retirement benefit questions.

This email did not come from the Olympia School District, even though the subject heading on at least one email listed it as “Assistance for Olympia School District Personnel.”

The Olympia School District does not endorse one retirement planner/firm over another. In addition, the district has not, and will not share information with a firm. Your email address is likely listed on our website, and we believe that the firm has searched our website for the purpose of solicitations. The district has not submitted a list of employees and email addresses as part of a public disclosure request. 

Please contact Tonya Palmer, payroll supervisor, if you have questions or additional concerns at

Washington Exposure Notifications – WA Notify

A reminder that Washington Exposure Notifications (also known as WA Notify) is a tool that works through smartphones, without sharing any personal information, to alert users if they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Information posted on the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) website reports that studies have found that the more people who use exposure notification, the greater the benefit. Just like wearing masks, physical distancing and keeping gatherings small, WA Notify is another tool to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Learn more about the tool on the DOH website.

Congrats to our newest Everyday Hero!

Everyday Heroes Logo with the words: Celebrating OSD Employees

Everyday Heroes is a regular feature in this staff blog. Remember to submit names of employees districtwide who have done something deserving of encouragement and praise. Give a shout-out to one of your colleagues at your school or support building and watch for it to appear in an upcoming Everyday Heroes blog post.

Here is our newest honoree:

Everyday Hero
Jamie Sproul, Technology TOSA, Technology Department

I believe that Jamie Sproul is an Everyday Hero because she has helped me so many times this year with technology questions and problems. She responds quickly and has walked me through each technology problem I have asked for help with. My questions seem to have a common theme — the interface of my document camera with my computer, compounded with Zoom and Screencastify! Jamie has shown me how to do what I want to do, and has taught me with step-by-step instructions. There have been days when everything seems to crash at once and Jamie has responded quickly and got me up and running in time for my next class! Jamie handles my requests with grace and a smile on her face. She ensures that I feel comfortable with whatever problem we’ve been working on before she finishes. At times there have been challenges we couldn’t figure out in the moment, and Jamie researches an answer and gets back to me the same day.  Jamie, you have a great “Customer Service” attitude and have given me confidence with the many new technology issues I have had this year. Thank You!
Submitted by Carol McKay, Teacher, Capital High School

How to nominate an Everyday Hero

  • 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.