Flags lowered to half-staff in remembrance of lives lost to COVID-19

Flags at half mast outside the Knox Administrative Building in Olympia

Gov. Jay Inslee directs that Washington state and United States flags at all state agency facilities, including schools and support buildings, be lowered to half-staff through Friday, February 26 in remembrance of 500,000 Americans who have lost their lives to COVID-19.

Flags will remain at half-staff from through close of business on Friday, February 26.

We want all staff to be aware of the reason for flag lowerings, as often families or community members will ask for this information when they enter our schools. This information is also posted as an announcement on the district website.

Counselors host parent presentation February 23

Olympia School District elementary school counselors will offer free district presentations for parents and other caregivers on topical subjects. The first 30-minute presentation  on February 23 is “Empowered Parents Raise Empowered Children.” 

The meeting is from 5:30-6 p.m. on Zoom.  The presentation may be accessed at:

Gayle Luce, school counselor at Hansen Elementary, and Taryn Tessneer, school social worker at LP Brown Elementary, are presenters for this first session.

Feb. 23 Presentation Description

Are you feeling stuck in a cycle of negative interactions with your child? Join elementary counseling staff Gayle Luce and Taryn Tessneer for tips and strategies for empowered parenting. Boost your ability to understand your child’s social development and behavior from infancy to adolescence. Learn options for responding in positive ways to challenging situations. This discussion will focus on restoring balance in your relationship and sharing practical activities you can try right away.

Paraeducators: February FCS training is full

Paraeducators please note: The February session for the Fundamental Course of Study (FCS) through ESD 113 is full.  If you were on the waitlist, the ESD will be contacting you via email with the option to be transferred to the May session.

If you have not registered, you may sign up for the May training. Spots are reserved on a first-come-first-serve basis. The July training dates are yet to be determined.

Register for the May training by clicking the link below:

ESD 113 Fundamental Course of Study Training
May 1/8/15/22, 11am-2pm
Registration Link

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Changing Default Heading Styles

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about how to modify the default appearance of true headings in Microsoft Word and Google Docs. Please call Robert with any accessibility questions at Ext. 6105. He is more than happy to talk by phone or schedule a time to meet with you.

Several staff members have asked if it is possible to change the default styling of the true headings within Microsoft Word and Google Docs. The answer is, thankfully, yes! Not only can the styling be altered within each document (as described in the MS Word and Google Docs quick-start guides), but the default styling can also be changed for future documents.

Google Docs

  1. Highlight the text you would like to make a heading.
  2. From the style drop-down in the top menu, select the desired heading level. In this example, it will be a Heading 1.Google Docs top menu. The Style menu drop-down is highlighted.
  3. Change the formatting of the heading text as you would like it to appear in this and future documents.
  4. Go back to the Style drop-down in the top menu and highlight the appropriate heading style. In the menu that appears, select ‘Update ‘Heading X’ to match’. This will update all text set to the same heading style within this document.Google Docs screenshot. The Style menu is activated, Heading 1 is activated, and Update Heading 1 to match is selected.
  5. Repeat the previous steps as desired for other heading styles.
  6. To save this styling as the default for future documents, return to the Style menu and highlight ‘Options’. Select ‘Save as my default styles.’Google Docs screenshot. The Style menu is activated, Options is activated, and Save as my default styles is highlighted.

Microsoft Word

  1. Right-click the appropriate heading style from the Home ribbon and select ‘Modify.’MS Word screenshot of the Home ribbon / Styles menu. Heading 1 has been right-clicked and Modify is highlighted.
  2. Within the Formatting section of the Modify Style menu, select the text properties you would like for this heading style.MS Word screenshot. The Modify Style menu is activated and the Formatting section is highlighted.
  3. Once the desired formatting has been achieved, check the ‘Add to template’ box. This ensures the heading style will be altered for future documents using the standard template.MS Word Screenshot. The Modify Style menu is activated and the checkbox Add to template has been checked and is highglighted.
  4. Click Ok.

As always, if you have any accessibility tips or questions, please feel free to reach out to the district’s Website Accessibility Specialist, Robert Hardy.

In-person hybrid learning expands to grades one and two February 22

Hybrid Learning Status Dial (Level 3), which is when the district is in hybrid and has brought back its youngest learners

In-person hybrid learning will expand to include grades one and two starting on Monday, February 22, 2021.

Note: Kindergartners at Lincoln Options and the Olympia Regional Learning Academy will also start in-person learning on February 22 at the same time as first graders.

Full-time distance learning will continue for families that have chosen to have their students learn remotely.

The expansion of hybrid in-person learning to include first and second graders follows the initial rollout of hybrid learning on February 1, 2021 to OSD preschoolers and kindergartners. Start dates for all other elementary, middle and high school grades are to be determined.

Be sure to visit the district website In-Person and Remote Learning Updates webpage for the latest updates and guidance.

Urgent message emailed to employees impacted by error on 2020 W-2

This article reshares important information emailed last night and today to many OSD employees, and mailed today as a notification to those same employees at their home address, regarding an error discovered on their 2020 W-2. Only employees impacted by this error were sent an email and a notification to their home address. Note: The email sent via SchoolMessenger to employees impacted by this error requires them to open an attachment. It is safe to open this attachment.

For those impacted by this W-2 error, please note the following:

The district mailed you an original W-2 on January 31, 2021. The original W-2 data with respect to income is correct. 

However, on the original W-2, data in box 12 (employer paid health benefit) and box 14 (employee portion of health benefit) were incorrectly displayed. The mistake overstates the amount that the employee paid for health benefits and understates the amount that the employer paid. Therefore, this error affects only those who have already, or intend to itemize and deduct medical expenses on their 2020 tax return. Due to the high threshold for medical expense deductions in tax law, few people (about 2% nationally) itemize medical expenses. However, if you fall into this category of taxpayers the mistake may result in an overstated tax credit.  

We work very hard to ensure that the data we publish is accurate. In past years our staff calculated the data in boxes 12 and 14.  This year, our staff relied on School Employee Benefits Board (SEBB) and our payroll co-op’s calculation of this data. We should not have relied on these entities for that data but at the time felt that SEBB was actually the best source of information.

On February 19, 2021 we mailed you two copies of a W-2C. A W-2C is a correction to the original W-2. Do not destroy the original W-2. You will use both versions of the W-2 to file your taxes. You are receiving two copies of the W-2C as you will include one copy when you file your taxes and keep one for your records. (If you have already filed your 2020 tax return, do not re-file just to include the W-2C. See the table below.)

Please note, the incorrect W-2 was calculated for a subset of employees (generally full-time employees). Therefore, another member of your household that also works for our district may not be impacted by this correction.

For a more complete understanding of how the incorrect data could impact you, please see the table below:

Chart containing information about what to do if you have filed or have yet to file a tax return. This information is also embedded in the text.

As stated above, we have mailed copies of the W-2C to your home address. If you are working on your taxes now, and would like immediate access to the original W-2 and the new W-2C in Skyward, open this pdf for instructions. Both are available to you now in Skyward.

We sincerely apologize for the complication and inconvenience associated with this error, and will work to make the adjustments as easy on you as possible. Please do not hesitate to email w2correction@osd.wednet.edu so that we may connect you with the district’s tax attorney to help with this process or answer your questions. Or call Tonya Palmer, Payroll Supervisor, at 360-596-6189 for assistance.

ESD shares information about fraudulent unemployment claim activity statewide

With the reinstatement of the additional, weekly unemployment benefit of $300, the Employment Security Department (ESD) has notified us that new fraudulent claims are being reported around the state. The ESD has asked us to share the following information regarding fraudulent unemployment claim activity.

If you have been the victim of recent unemployment fraud:
If you have been the victim of new unemployment fraud, you will need to file a fraud report with the ESD. In addition, please also notify Human Resources by emailing Cassie Lewis at calewis@osd.wednet.edu.

To help prevent any potential fraud, you may create a SAW account with the State of Washington. View instructions for creating a SAW account. If you have been the victim of fraud in another state, you will need to contact that specific state. You may also want to create a SAW account in order to prevent a fraudulent Washington claim.

If you were a victim of unemployment fraud in 2020:

If you were a victim of unemployment fraud with the ESD in 2020 and receive a tax form 1099 from the ESD, you should contact the ESD directly. Because the ESD issued the 1099 form, they must be the one to correct the error. The ESD can be reached by email (ui1099@esd.wa.gov) or phone (866-697-4831). Email contact is preferred.

View more information

Weather-related delays and closures

Olympia Capitol building with snow-covered hillside and trees

The following is a reprint of an email shared with all OSD employees on Thursday, February 11.

Please retain this information for weather-related delays and closures. Hopefully this will be a useful reference document to make weather-related decisions clearer for everyone.


Contractual language and past practice allow for modified schedules due to emergency conditions in which employees may, with the approval of their supervisor: 1) work regularly scheduled time on site, if safety permits, 2) arrange with a supervisor to complete their work remotely, 3) use vacation leave or emergency leave if permitted by bargaining agreement, or 4) if applicable, arrange with a supervisor to make up the time missed in regular-time status.


Contractual language and past practice allow for early release provisions due to emergency conditions in which employees may, with the approval of their supervisor, leave early and 1) work regularly scheduled time on site, if safety permits, 2) arrange with a supervisor to complete their work remotely, 3) use vacation leave or emergency leave if permitted by bargaining agreement, or 4) if applicable, arrange with a supervisor to make up the time missed in regular-time status.


For staff who work a typical school schedule, as well as year-round and other employees, contractual language and past practice allow for closure due to emergency conditions in which employees may, with the approval of their supervisor: 1) work regularly scheduled time on site, if safety permits, 2) arrange with a supervisor to complete their work remotely, 3) use vacation leave or emergency leave if permitted by bargaining agreement, or 4) if applicable, arrange with a supervisor to make up the time missed in regular-time status.

Thank you for your dedication to the Olympia School District. We appreciate your efforts and hope that you remain safe during inclement weather conditions.

Kudos to our three newest Everyday Heroes

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 are our newest honorees:

Everyday Hero
OSD Maintenance Department

I would like to nominate the Maintenance Department for going above and beyond to help me in my role for student safety. They never hesitate to answer my questions, fill ALL my requests for items that need fixed or searched for or for even those that I didn’t know I needed but are very much needed. And the heat is a bonus in the health room!! They are always willing to help me out! They are just amazing and no amount of Safeway donuts will ever thank them enough!!
Submitted by Phyllis Price, LPN, Garfield Elementary School

Everyday Hero
Frank Wilson, Executive Director of Operations, and Wendy Couture, Custodial and Safety Supervisor, Operations

I would like to nominate our wonderful Frank Wilson and Wendy Couture for going out of their way every time I am in need of PPE, questions answered to safety issues, and just questions in general. They always answer my phone calls and emails promptly and with such professionalism. While I think they might get tired of hearing from me they never seem to show it! Thank you for that! And thank you for being there when we need you!
Submitted by Phyllis Price, LPN, Garfield Elementary School

Everyday Hero
Kathleen Swanstrom, Paraeducator, Pioneer Elementary

Kathy Swanstrom is truly an everyday hero at Pioneer Elementary! For the last 6 months she has helped to make our packet pick up go smoothly every other week for 20 classroom teachers and over 380 students. Kathy orchestrates all of the materials to the pick-up area and when the pick-up times are over, she lets us all know who still needs to pick up their things. You can also see her standing out in the cold, wind, rain and sometimes sun at every packet pickup time. Thank you, Kathy for helping our school, you truly are an everyday hero!
Submitted by Suzette O’Donnell, Third Grade Teacher, Pioneer Elementary School

How to nominate an Everyday Hero

  • Email the Communications and Community Relations Department (communications@osd.wednet.edu) 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.

New version of Return to Work Safety Plan posted on website

Read the latest version (Version 4.8) of the OSD COVID-19 Pandemic Return to Work Safety Plan. The most current version of the plan is posted on both the staff Intranet and on the district website. Be sure to bookmark the link above for easy access. For those who prefer to visit the webpages where it is posted, the plan is shared in the following locations:

The latest updates to the plan include:

  • Page 2: New hyperlink to Department of Health “Tools to Prepare for Provision of In-Person Learning among K-12 Students at Public and Private Schools during the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
  • Page 11: Updated verbiage in COVID-19 Screening Questionnaire questions.
  • Page 12: New hyperlinks to Washington State K-12 School Testing Guidance, and Thurston County Public Health and Social Services COVID-19 Testing Site.

Please remember to follow all safety and health protocols outlined in the plan.