New Transitional Kindergarten program starts in January

Three students build a city with blocks on the carpet in a classroom

Starting in January 2023, Olympia School District will offer a free full-day Transitional Kindergarten program. This new pilot program is designed to meet the needs of children who are going to kindergarten in Fall 2023, face barriers to kindergarten readiness, and are not enrolled in a regular early childhood program. Spaces are limited, so sign up now!

Visit our website for more info

Questions? Want to enroll your child? Call the Student Support Department at (360) 596-7539 or email

October is Disability History Month

A reminder that October is Disability History Month. Schools across the district will observe this by conducting or promoting educational activities such as school assemblies or guest speaker presentations that provide instruction, awareness and understanding of disability history and people with disabilities.

Student Support shared with schools a list of Disability History Month resources compiled by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The observance is included in OSD Board Policy 2336.

Email sent to all employees Jan. 27 re: protocols to address and report COVID-19

Collection of blue hospital type face masks strewn on a tabletop

The following is a copy of an email sent to all OSD employees on January 27, 2022

Hello Olympia School District employees,

With the increase in the number of COVID-19 positive cases, we want to provide some reminders about the protocols to address and report positive cases, share information from the health services team, and answer some frequently asked questions.

1. Executive Director of Student Support Ken Turcotte has redistributed some job responsibilities and supervision among his health services team so they can respond in the most efficient manner to the increased number of positive COVID-19 cases. Additionally, contracted staff will be assisting with calling identified close contacts.

2. Importantly, we presume that classroom teachers and all staff are following mitigation measures such as proper physical distancing for adults and students, and face-covering requirements.

  • When a principal notifies a teacher, or a teacher notifies a principal of a positive COVID-19 case, the teacher should communicate to the principal if there has been any deviation from classroom COVID-19 mitigation measures in the past two days that could result in a student or staff member being identified as a close contact. The teacher should provide the names of those students/staff members to the principal.
  • If there has been a deviation from mitigation measures, the teacher should also tell the principal if there were any changes to the classroom seating chart. It is important that our contract tracers know where students sat or were grouped when they were potentially exposed.
  • The principal emails the names of the potential close contacts and any changes to the seating chart to the school nurse.
  • Employees who work in support roles outside of the classroom/school should communicate confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 with their supervisor, who will communicate directly with the school district’s health services team.

3. What is the difference between the COVID-19 positive cases reported daily to all employees and the OSD COVID-19 Data Dashboard?

  • The COVID 19 daily employee notification email is a list of positive cases, including both staff and students, who were confirmed as positive for COVID-19 AND were on-site during their infectious period. The daily email does not represent positive cases where the individual(s) were not on-site during their infectious period.
  • The OSD COVID-19 Data Dashboard, which is updated every Friday, is a cumulative account of all confirmed positive cases in our system.

4. What is the threshold for a classroom to shift from in-person to remote learning?

  • This decision is made on a case-by-case basis and depends on a multitude of factors, including the number of positive cases reported, whether the positive cases are epidemiologically linked, whether the individuals shared a household, and whether the individuals had significant contact outside of school. We consult and carefully review data with county health officials, who will ultimately determine whether a classroom should shift to remote learning.

Finally, as was shared in a recent communication to staff and families, the district is aligning its contact tracing with the most recent DOH guidanceThat guidance prioritizes contact tracing for indoor spaces where masking is limited or not consistent, for transportation services, and for high-risk extracurricular activities. This new guidance reflects that classrooms that follow mitigation protocols are not where health officials are seeing the spread of COVID-19.

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.

Should Parents “Fix” Unhappiness?

Narrow bumpy empty road lined by trees and covered in fall leaves

Guiding your child to handle the ups and downs of life: An OSD School Counselor Presentation

  • April 27, 2021, from 5:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Zoom Link

“I just want my child to be happy!” Could it be that we have come to believe happy feelings need to be our baseline and anything short of that is a problem? Consider the possibility of another way of thinking: “I just want my child to get comfortable being uncomfortable”. Learning to navigate the bumpy roads of life requires us to tolerate discomfort.

Join school counselors Denise Hammer and Kris Norelius for presentation three of our FREE parenting series this spring: Should Parents “Fix” Unhappiness? In this session we will challenge ourselves to look at how recognizing and understanding the uncomfortable emotions within ourselves can help our children tolerate their uncomfortable feelings as we guide them with tools to cope with life’s challenges, large and small. This process can be key to raising resilient, confident children!

Register for Lifelines Suicide Prevention Training 2021 in April

Workshop sign

Middle and high school staff are invited to register for a virtual workshop developed and presented by Maureen Underwood & Associates, national experts in suicide prevention, in partnership with the Olympia School District Education Foundation (OSDEF). 

All middle and high school staff are invited to learn:

  • Facts about suicide risk in youth.
  • Tools to recognize suicide risk in your students.
  • How to be a trusted adult in a student’s life.
  • Tips on maintaining a trauma informed classroom.
  • Techniques to implement self care in your own life.

Please click on the link below to register on the staff intranet (be sure to log in to Google to access the intranet):

All High School Staff: April 14, 2021 – 3-4:30 p.m.
All Middle School StaffApril 28, 2021 – 3-4:30 p.m.

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.

Don’t forget to complete staff survey by 8 p.m. tonight, Dec. 4

graphs and paper

If you haven’t done so already, we want to remind and encourage all employees districtwide to complete a survey to share their thoughts about the effectiveness of the current remote learning model. We also ask that you answer questions that relate to general topics such as school/work climate, and cultural awareness and action. Survey responses will be anonymous. Data gathered will be used to inform planning going forward during the Pandemic response and gather baseline data to use as we strive to improve all workplaces in Olympia.

The deadline to complete this staff survey is 8 p.m. tonight, Friday, December 4.

  • Certificated staff onlyClick to take the survey
  • All other OSD employeesClick to take the survey (Note: For employees who work in support buildings, when you see questions that reference “school,” please answer as they relate to your support building site).

Newly updated webpage features expanded youth and family resources

Child Nutrition Services worker brings grab-and-go meal to a waiting car in a school parking lot as part of the meal distribution program. Worker also gives a treat to a dog in the front seat of the car.

Do you know of families, students or colleagues looking for information about support groups, crisis lines, help with meals or bills, social and emotional wellness, or tips for taming toddler temper tantrums? You can find all that and much more at our newly updated Resources for Youth and Families webpage.   

The webpage provides one-stop-shopping for almost any community or district resource that a student, family, staff or community member might need. Information is grouped by topic: Community Resources, Parenting Resources and Supports, District Resources for New Families, and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL).

“In order to prepare students for career, college and citizenship, schools need to establish partnerships with families and the community,” said Kris Norelius, district social emotional learning program specialist. “The hope is that easy access to relevant resources will streamline the process of finding solutions and help students and families feel supported.”

The webpage is designed to be comprehensive enough so a staff member can offer a parenting resource to a struggling family, a community member can gain an understanding of social-emotional learning, a parent can find mental health support for their child or a family can find out how to get help with a utility bill.

“There are many resources out there but it is often overwhelming finding what we need,” Norelius said. “Families often don’t know where to start. Teachers are sometimes in the position of offering support to families. We wanted to provide enough information in one place so people can access help on their own if they choose to do so. If they need support in the process, district social workers and school counselors are here to help.”

Flu shot clinics set for October 16 and 17

Bandaid with heading Flu Shot ClinicThe Olympia School District is committed to helping keep students, staff, parents/guardians and community members healthy throughout the flu season.

The district has partnered with the Seattle Visiting Nurse Association (SVNA) to provide flu shot clinics.

Clinic Dates and Locations:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 16 – Olympia High School, 2:30-6 p.m.
  • Thursday, Oct. 17 – Capital High School, 2:30-6 p.m.

The clinics are open to all OSD staff, students, families (children must be four years of age or older) and community members.

As a reminder, everyone will need to complete a Patient Consent form which includes their name, address, date of birth, name of insurance carrier and individual insurance subscriber number. Please remember to bring your insurance card. This information is required in order to process the billing.

Uninsured participants will pay for their own flu shots. The $40.00 fee for the standard Quadrivalent flu shot, cash or check only, will be collected at the clinic at the time the shot is given.

For more information please contact Ken Turcotte, executive director of student support, at (360) 596-7530 or