School board approves Technology and Safety Replacement Levy election February 8, 2022

Elementary teacher presents lesson on interactive board with image projected while student raises hand to answer a question.

The Olympia School Board has unanimously agreed to place a Technology and Safety Replacement Levy proposal before voters on the February 8, 2022 Special Election ballot.

The proposed replacement levy is not a new tax. It would replace an expiring four-year technology and safety levy approved by voters in February 2018. The levy would raise an estimated $52.4 million over four years (2023-2026).

“This replacement levy proposal reflects a continuation of our strategic planning efforts to make technology accessible to all students and prepare them for success now and into the future,” said School Board President Scott Clifthorne. “It also proposes investments to enhance safety and security at every school site.”

View more information about the replacement levy on the Technology and Safety Replacement Levy Election 2022 webpage. The page includes links to frequently asked questions, proposed levy projects, the levy resolution approved by the school board on November 4, 2021, survey results, levy planning committee members, and details about cost/tax rate.

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.

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.

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.

Student Well-Being Webinar 6-7 p.m. on November 3

Student in foreground of classroom of students raises hand to answer a question. Other students are seated at desks working and listening.

Employees, families and the community are invited to a one-hour Zoom webinar on Wednesday, November 3 to learn about OSD supports for student well-being.

The webinar will be held from 6-7 p.m. on Zoom (see Zoom details below).

Superintendent Patrick Murphy will be joined by Director of Whole Child Success Char Franz and Director of Student Support Ruth Middlebrook. Other guests who will share some brief remarks include an OSD social worker, district family and community partnership coordinator, and a representative from the Olympia School District Education Foundation. 

The panelists will share how federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds are being used this year to support student well-being in response to the pandemic. Supports are also outlined in the OSD Academic and Student Well-Being Recovery Plan.

After a brief introduction from the panel outlining the various supports, they will address questions posed by participants during the Zoom webinar and/or emailed in advance. If you are unable to attend, feel free to email questions in advance to: Upon completion the webinar, along with previous monthly webinars, will be recorded and posted on the district website.

November 3, 2021 Zoom details:

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

Or One tap mobile:
US: +12532158782,,84945656414#  or +13462487799,,84945656414#

Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 253 215 8782  or +1 346 248 7799  or +1 669 900 6833  or +1 312 626 6799  or +1 646 558 8656  or +1 301 715 8592

Webinar ID: 849 4565 6414

International numbers available:

Remember to vote in November 2 General Election

Roll of I Voted stickers

Ballots for the November 2, 2021 General Election have been sent to registered voters and must be mailed or dropped off in postage-free ballot drop boxes by Election Day to be counted.

Ballot drop boxes are open 24 hours a day during elections and will continue to accept ballots until 8 p.m. on Election Day. For a list of drop box locations in the Olympia School District, visit the Thurston County Auditor’s Office Elections Division website.

There are two Olympia School Board positions on the November 2, 2021 ballot:

  • Mark Boyer and Darcy Huffman are vying for the District 3 seat that will be vacated by Director Leslie Huff.
  • Scott Clifthorne and Don Mitchell are running for the District 5 position, currently held by Scott Clifthorne.

There is still one more opportunity to register to vote or update your current voter registration for the November 2 General Election:

  • November 2, 2021: Register to vote or update your current voter registration in person and drive-thru only until 8 p.m. on Election Day November 2. In-person/drive-thru voter registration is done at the Thurston County Elections Division, 2400 Evergreen Park Dr. S.W., Olympia.

To register to vote you must be:

  • A citizen of the United States.
  • Residing at your current address for a minimum of 30 days before Election Day.
  • A legal resident of Washington state.
  • At least 18 years old by Election Day. (Note: Citizens may pre-register to vote at age 16 and will be automatically eligible to vote and sent a ballot during the first election after their 18th birthday).

For additional voter registration information, visit the Thurston County Auditor’s Office Elections Division webpage. You may also call (360) 786-5408 or email For more information about ballot items, read the Thurston County Voters’ Pamphlet.

Flags lowered to half-staff through October 22

Flags at half-staff in front of Avanti HS buidling

Pursuant to Presidential Proclamation, Gov. Inslee has directed that Washington state and United States flags at all state agency facilities, including schools and support buildings, be lowered to half-staff in honor and memory of General Colin Powell and his life of service.

Flags should remain at half-staff until close of business or sunset on Friday, October 22, 2021.

Other government entities, citizens and businesses are encouraged to join this recognition.

Webinar recording about Academic and Student Well-Being Recovery Plan is posted on website

Close up of a microphone

On Wednesday, October 6, our community was invited to a 1-hour Zoom webinar hosted by the district to learn about the OSD Academic and Student Well-Being Recovery Plan and ask questions of the panelists: Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Executive Director of Student Support Ken Turcotte and Chief Academic Officer Hannah Gbenro.

View the webinar recording, which is also posted as a news story on the OSD website.

This is the first of planned monthly webinars to provide the community with updates about various initiatives and/or programs during the 2021-22 school year.

The next Zoom webinar is scheduled from 6-7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 3. We will share the topic and Zoom links in next week’s blog.

County health officials announce new voluntary COVID-19 testing options

High School students write an assignment at their desks in a classroom

Thurston County health officials have announced new voluntary COVID-19 testing options designed to reduce the length of quarantine for an unvaccinated, asymptomatic student or employee identified as a close contact to a positive COVID case.

The testing options are outlined in a new Thurston County Public Health and Social Services (PHSS) flowchart for symptomatic students and staff posted on the county website on October 8.

In summary, the two new voluntary testing options are:

  • 7-Day Quarantine Option: An unvaccinated student or employee who is identified as a close contact at school/work and is asymptomatic (does not exhibit COVID symptoms) must stay home from school/work for at least 7 days and take a COVID-19 test between day 5 and 7 of the quarantine. If the test is negative, the quarantine ends on day 8 and the student or employee may return to school/work and continue to monitor for symptoms until day 14. If the test is positive, the individual must isolate at home for 10 days View more details about the 7-day quarantine option on page 3 of the PHSS flowchart for symptomatic students and staff.
  • “Test to Stay” Program: This option applies only to an asymptomatic, unvaccinated student (not employee) identified as a close contact at school. The student may attend school if all testing criteria outlined by county health officials, including two negative COVID-19 tests (one on day 2-3, and another on day 5-7) are met. Students may not attend any extracurricular activities, including sports, and other activities outside their home like childcare or youth development groups, during this time. View more details about the Test to Stay Program for students on page 4 of the PHSS flowchart.

Students who become symptomatic at school or qualify for Test to Stay may access free COVID-19 rapid tests at their schools with parent/guardian permission. The COVID Rapid Test Consent Form is located in Skyward Family Access. Additionally, take-home Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests are available to students 18 years and older, and staff, who become symptomatic at school. This limited testing will only be available as long as there are testing supplies and staff capacity.

Be sure to get the latest health and safety updates on the OSD website.