Remember to take the Panorama fall survey by November 30

Graphic showing OSD logo and words Panorama Fall Survey for Students, Staff and Families

All employees are encouraged to take the Panorama fall survey by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 30. Direct links to the staff survey are posted at the top of the OSD staff portal. There is one link for instructional staff and another for non-instructional staff.

Responses to the survey are confidential. The district is partnering with a third-party vendor to support us in administering these surveys.

Thank you, in advance, for participating!

November is Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month and serves as an opportunity to engage with resources that support the full appreciation of rich histories alongside diverse cultural backgrounds our students, families and staff who are Native American, Alaskan Native and/or Native Hawaiian offer to our Olympia community.

Below are three resources to support meaning making among students and/or adults around Native Culture, in the interest of respect for all people and cultures. 

What happens when inclement weather requires schools to close or start late this year?

Olympia Capitol building with snow-covered hillside and trees

Every year it seems snow or severe weather conditions lead to the closure or late start of our schools, and we want to keep you updated about those decisions.

The plan for what happens during a school closure or two-hour late start, as well as the communication protocol and list of emergency snow routes, are outlined in the “Snow Letter: 2021-22” posted on our district website. We will also be emailing the letter directly to all OSD families early next week, sharing on social media platforms, and including in our November issue of our district’s Spotlight on Success newsletter.

OSD and Puget Sound Energy host solar panel project ribbon cutting Friday, November 12

An array of rooftop solar panels at Olympia High School.
Rooftop solar panels at Olympia High School. Courtesy of Puget Sound Energy.

Employees are invited to a ribbon cutting on November 12 celebrating the completion of the solar panel installation at Olympia High School as part of a partnership between the school district and Puget Sound Energy (PSE).

The ribbon cutting ceremony begins at 4 p.m. in the Olympia High School Commons. Guests are asked to enter the Commons at the back of the school off Carlyon Avenue S.E.

The project features more than 500 rooftop solar panels and is part of PSE’s Community Solar Program, which adds solar energy to the local power grid from one large location.

PSE representatives, Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Olympia School Board members and other local dignitaries are expected to attend. No school board business will be conducted at this event.

Note: Please enter OHS through the Commons located behind the school off Carlyon Avenue S.E.

Updated version of Pandemic Safety Plan posted on website

Grouping of blue disposable face coverings on a table

Read the latest version (Version 6.0) of the OSD COVID-19 Pandemic 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.

The latest updates to the plan include:

  • Page 1: Date added to top left designating when the last update was made to this document, which has been reformatted as an accessible Google Doc. Language updated regarding the use of volunteers, outside of school activities, and overnight field trips.
  • Page 10: New links added to revised Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Pathways (Flowchart for Symptomatic Students and Staff).
  • Pages 11-13: Staff and Student COVID Testing Options – Decision Trees have been added.
  • Pages 14-16: Updated information added regarding COVID-19 Vaccinations
  • Page 17: Information added regarding Student Absences or Closures due to COVID-related circumstances
  • Page 18: Information updated regarding what employees should do if they receive a report of a positive, but unconfirmed case, of COVID-19 at schools or support buildings.
  • Page 19: Information added regarding Student Absence Tracking Procedures.

Suicide Awareness and Prevention webinar set November 17

Head and Shoulders portrait photo of presenter Maureen Underwood

What every parent/guardian needs to know about suicide prevention in our schools. This free presentation for families of middle and high school students will focus on:

  • What every parent/guardian should know about youth suicide
  • What you can do as parents/guardian to empower and protect your child at every age
  • Taking care of yourself, so you can support your children
  • The prevention-based curriculum that your school will be providing to students this year

There will be an opportunity to ask the presenter questions during the presentation.

  • Tuesday, November 17, 2021
  • 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Register in advance for this meeting:

Registrations are requested by November 15. Late registrations will be accepted up until the event begins. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Presenter Bio
Maureen Underwood is a licensed clinical social worker, certified group psychotherapist and a nationally recognized expert on youth suicide prevention, with focus on schools and best-practice programs that enhance overall student outcomes. She is co-developer of Hazelden Lifelines®: A Suicide Prevention Program, Hazelden Lifelines® Intervention Hazelden Lifelines® Postvention.

Underwood has more than 30 years of experience in mental health and crisis intervention. She has developed numerous programs and published extensively on these and other related topics. Underwood has initiated collaborative relationships between mental health and educational systems during her tenure from 1985 to 2000 as coordinator of a state adolescent suicide prevention project. She authored the National Association of Social Work’s policy statement on adolescent suicide, and was a charter member of her state’s Governor’s Council on Youth Suicide Prevention.

Since 1987 Underwood has been engaged in addressing cluster suicide among youth populations. In this work she has applied the latest research on youth suicide contagion, along with containment recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop practical protocols, policies and programs that are grounded in best practice, yet fully relevant to implementing in school settings.

Second round of Foundation Teaching & Learning Grants due November 19

OSDEF Logo with image of stick figures of an adult and children and the name of the Foundation beneath

Grant Requests for Application Period 2 are due by 5 p.m. Friday, November 19.

Requests can be made in any amount up to $2,000 this year (except Browsers Books grants, which are eligible for up to $500). Grant Request forms, guidelines and examples of grants awarded by the Foundation last year are all available at

Any OSD employee who works directly with OSD students may apply. Please select only one category. Grant requests must be submitted electronically via Funding is available until it runs out.

Questions? Contact Executive Director Katy Johansson at or (360) 596-6110.

Tired voice? Distracted students? Your classroom audio system can help!

Elementary classroom image of teacher walking through room of students working on a project

It’s not just about volume. It’s about clarity. Using your enhanced audio system helps ensure that your clear message reaches every seat in your space, with less strain on your voice.

You know from experience. Masks interfere with your ability to communicate with your students. There is a major difference in the quality of your voice when wearing a mask. Your enhanced audio system will improve both the quality and volume of your voice. Masks aside, 15-22% of our students have some hearing impairment.  Your enhanced audio system can help!…but only if you use it.


  • Teachers have less vocal strain/no need to use “teacher voice”
  • When students hear better, they learn better
  • Less need to repeat instruction
  • Students are more involved and less disruptive

Tips and Tricks

  • Use every day to form a habit
  • 4-6 inches below chin
  • Charge nightly
  • Speak at conversational level
  • If you can hear yourself, it’s too loud
  • Test with different masks
  • Invite a colleague in to help evaluate

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Ensuring Sufficient Contrast

Colorful umbrella

When designing content, it is important to consider the perceived contrast of text or graphical elements against their background.  Text with a low contrast ratio can be difficult to read and may cause issues with eye strain or reader fatigue.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), defines a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for regular text, and 3:1 for large text. For most textual content, black or dark gray text on a white background has a sufficiently high contrast ratio. For instance, the text within this blog has a ratio of 11:1, far surpassing the minimum threshold.

Care should be taken when changing font colors. Here are some examples of text color combinations and their ratios against a white background:

  • Low contrast gray text Ratio: 1.3:1
  • Sufficient contrast gray text Ratio: 4.6:1
  • Low contrast blue text Ratio: 1.9:1
  • Sufficient contrast blue text Ratio: 6.1:1
  • Sufficient contrast red text Ratio: 5.6:1

Additional care should be taken when altering background colors. Generally, including a background of the same color type will create contrast issues and should be avoided. Here are some examples of low contrast content using the sufficiently contrasted colors from above:

  • Low contrast gray text on a gray background text Ratio: 2.1:1
  • Low contrast blue text on blue background Ratio: 2.6:1
  • Low contrast red text on red background Ratio: 1.5:1

When designing graphical content, such as flyers or website layouts, it can be challenging to ensure sufficient contrast when placing text over an image. To do so, you can use design elements such as text shadows or text outlines, as we have done on our district page.

White text over an image on the OSD website. The text has a gray outline applied to it, ensuring readability.

By including a text outline, we are able to display white text over a complex, and occasionally white background.

Low contrast text is generally apparent to a content author, but these tools can help to check the contrast ratios of your content:

  • Colour Contrast Analyser – Works for both Mac and Windows and can check contrast across multiple applications.
  • Color Contrast Analyzer – Google Chrome extension that visually displays the perceived contrast of content. Useful for designing web content.

If you have questions about using these tools or ensuring the contrast of your content is sufficient, please feel free to reach out to the Communications Department.

United Way Annual Giving Campaign runs through Nov. 30

Olympia School District’s annual United Way giving campaign continues through Tuesday, November 30. This year all pledges should be submitted online.

United Way is a national organization that provides a multitude of services to thousands of people right here in the Olympia community, including many of the students and families served by the school district.

Donations through the United Way support a variety of organizations. In past years, United Way has supported organizations such as the Thurston Food Bank, Garden-Raised Bounty (GRuB), Boys & Girls Club of Thurston County and the Olympia School District Education Foundation. United Way also supports the Reading Buddy Program on an annual basis.

Additional details about the United Way of Thurston County can be found on its website.

If you have questions or need more information, please feel free to contact Mike Leonard at

All online pledge forms need to be completed no later than November 30.

View the online pledge form.