Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

In-Person and Remote Learning - 2022-23 School Year


The Olympia School District is committed to supporting learning environments that protect student and staff health and safety.


Below is a list of frequently asked questions about in-person and remote learning health and safety guidelines in the 2022-23 school year. Much of the guidance is outlined in more specific detail in resources included at the end of these Qs and As.


This frequently asked questions webpage will be updated frequently, so please check back for updates. We also encourage you to email us questions you would like answered. Email your questions to [email protected]



General Questions


Are all school buildings required to offer full-time in-person learning?

Yes. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the Department of Health (DOH), and Gov. Jay Inslee’s Office expect all K–12 students to have the opportunity to attend school in-person full-time in the 2022–23 school year.


OSD offers full-time in-person learning five days a week in all schools  For families who want their student(s) to learn remotely, OSD offers ORLA Online at the Olympia Regional Learning Academy.



Face Coverings


Are students, staff and visitors required to wear a face covering indoors or outdoors in K-12 school facilities, or on school buses?

Effective March 12, 2022, face coverings are optional in all schools and support buildings, and on school buses, with some exceptions as outlined in the state Department of Health COVID-19 requirements and guidance.


  • Face coverings are required in all school health rooms and isolation rooms. This requirement is for anyone who enters these school health care settings, regardless of the reason for entering.
  •  Schools and district support buildings will continue to have disposable and KN95 face masks available at no cost to all students, staff and visitors at each building entry. Masks will also be available in all school health and isolation rooms.
  • While face coverings are no longer required universally in schools, the guidance states there may be situations when staff, students and visitors may be temporarily required by state or local health officials to wear masks. This may occur, for example, during a COVID-19 outbreak in a classroom or with a group of students (e.g., a choir class or a sports team). If this occurs, schools will communicate directly to families and students required to comply with any additional mitigation practices.
  • The guidance specifically addresses the need for everyone — staff, students and visitors — to respect whatever choice others make regarding masking. “Some may need to wear a mask because they or a member of their household is high risk for severe COVID-19 disease,” it states. The guidance goes on to say, “Assumptions regarding someone’s beliefs or health status should neither be made nor commented about. Schools and programs should not tolerate harassment or bullying of any kind.”


Physical Distancing


With the new state guidance that takes effect on March 12, 2022, will students, staff and visitors continue to practice physical distancing in schools and support buildings?

  •  The Olympia School District will continue to practice physical distancing to the degree possible and practical.



Wellness Screenings


Are schools required to do wellness screenings for students, staff and visitors for COVID-19 symptoms?

No. Health officials removed the requirement for formal wellness screenings for students, staff and visitors at entry to school buildings in the 2021-22 school year. However, parents should keep students home who are sick or symptomatic.


Staff, likewise, should not come to work when sick or symptomatic School staff should continue to be aware of their students, staff and visitors exhibiting symptoms, and follow the protocols included in the guidance for responding to someone who shows symptoms of COVID-19.


We cannot stress enough the importance of staying home when sick.



COVID-19 Vaccinations and Testing


Update November 1, 2022: As of November 1, 2022, COVID-19 vaccination is no longer a requirement to work or volunteer in the Olympia School District. Gov. Jay Inslee's COVID-19 emergency proclamation ended on October 31, 2022.


Is the Olympia School District participating in the Learn to Return school-based testing program?

Yes, we have been participating in the Learn to Return testing program with our ESD113 testing partnership since March 2021. We will continue to partner with ESD113 and offer drive-thru testing at the ESD113 testing site in Tumwater for staff and students.


Does the Olympia School District offer COVID-19 tests at schools?

Yes, as part of the Learn to Return program, students who qualify may access free COVID-19 rapid tests at their schools with parent/guardian permission.


The on-site testing is only available to those who experience COVID-19 symptoms while at school or have been identified as close contacts to someone with a confirmed case. This limited testing will be available as long as there are testing supplies and staff capacity..


How does the school district prioritize COVID-19 on-site testing?

The following explains how the Olympia School District prioritizes COVID-19 testing for students and staff. This list determines the priority of tests if availability or supply is limited:

  1. Outbreak testing as directed by Thurston County Public Health and Social Services
  2. Test-to-Stay for Staff
  3. Test -to-Stay for Students
  4. Staff/students who become Symptomatic on Site

Some key points about OSD student testing:


  • A free rapid antigen COVID-19 test is available in school health rooms for those who qualify (see COVID-19 Testing Options chart for students and staff). Results from the rapid test are available in 15-30 minutes, and families will receive results from the school.
  • Parents/guardians must give permission for the testing by signing a one-time consent form before a student is tested. The “COVID Rapid Test Consent Form” is available in Skyward Family Access.
  • On-site tests are designed for students who become symptomatic at school, or are identified as close contacts while at school.
  • Students who become symptomatic at home are encouraged to get tested by their health care provider, ESD 113, or at another community testing location.
  • Anyone with symptoms, regardless of test results, will be sent home from work immediately.
  • The rapid test is a self-collected nasal swab, which the individual inserts less than one inch into the nostril. The rapid test will be observed by a trained staff member in the school health room.


View COVID-19 Testing Options - Decision Tree for Students and Staff


Is the district offering the Test to Stay program?


  • “Test to Stay” Program: This option applies to an asymptomatic, unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated student or staff member identified as a close contact. The student or employee may attend school/work if all testing criteria outlined by county health officials are met. Students will be offered rapid tests at school with parent/guardian permission.


Is there free drive-through COVID-19 testing at the Capital Region Education Service District 113 (ESD 113)?

Yes. Students and staff who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to someone with the virus may be tested for free at a drive-through COVID-19 testing site at the Capital Region Education Service District 113 (ESD 113).

The testing site is open from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. weekdays at ESD 113, 6005 Tyee Dr. S.W. in Tumwater. 

Note: At this time, the free drive-through testing is open only to school and ESD staff and enrolled students. It is not available to family members, or the general community. The test is recommended for ages 4 and up. If you are under the age of 18, a parent or guardian must accompany you to the test.

Pre-register online
Participants are encouraged to pre-register online before arriving at the testing site. Parents/guardians who pre-register their student online will also be asked to fill out a permission slip that allows test results to be shared with their student’s school district. This form is available at ESD 113’s website and at the testing site.


Student Absences or Closures due to COVID-related circumstances


How does learning continue for a student who is absent due to COVID-related circumstances?

Teachers will support students similarly to any other student absence. Given the potential for longer periods of absence that could accompany quarantining, teachers will put extra emphasis on ensuring that learning resources are up to date in Schoology and communicate with families about how to access and turn in work. Additionally, teachers may, at their discretion, provide remote, synchronous instruction to students who are absent. Synchronous instruction is when staff teach students online and in-person simultaneously.

How does learning continue if a classroom is closed to in-person learning due to COVID-related circumstances?

If an elementary classroom is closed to in-person learning, the teacher and students will revert to full-time remote instruction for the duration of the closure. If a secondary classroom is closed to in-person learning, the teacher and students will revert to remote instruction for that class only for the duration of the closure. The other class period teachers will support students similarly to any other student absence (see previous FAQ).


What factors do county health officials consider in whether to suspend in-person learning in a classroom or a school?

The Thurston County health officer has shared that health officials review six areas when considering suspension of in-person learning/activity in a classroom or school:


  • Ongoing transmission in the setting
  • Ability of the school to mitigate risk
  • Adequate staffing available
  • Capacity to trace and contact trace
  • Hospital capacity
  • Demonstrated risk (e.g. the severity of the disease, like hospitalization or fatality)


Schools may close if there is 10% or more absenteeism due to students having symptoms consistent with COVID-19.  When this occurs, the county health officer and school officials will meet and look at symptoms reported, test results, classroom distribution, etc.


How does learning continue if a school or the district is required to shift to hybrid instruction or to exclusively remote learning due to COVID-related circumstances?


In the event that the district is faced with limited available facilities, or some other COVID-19 related reason requiring the District to offer schooling in a hybrid model or exclusively remote at an entire school or districtwide; the school and/or district will revert back to the full-time remote or hybrid models that were in effect during the 2020-21 school year.

What happens if a teacher is out due to a COVID-related circumstance?

We will fill the absence with a substitute teacher who will use teacher-provided lesson plans.


Cleaning and Operations


What protocols are in place to support health and safety?

The district continues to do regular cleaning and disinfecting of buildings; handwashing and respiratory etiquette.


Do OSD HVAC systems pull in fresh outside air, or do the systems recycle air?

All OSD school and support building HVAC systems pull in the fresh air. The air is exchanged a minimum of 7 times per hour in compliance with the industry standard.


Is the district providing any supplemental air flow in school classrooms?

Yes, beginning in September 2021, the district placed air purifiers in classroom spaces, beginning with elementary and middle school classrooms, then high school level. We are fortunate to have federal and state emergency relief funds to be used for this purpose.


Importantly, our schools meet all health and safety guidance for air flow as established by health officials and Labor & Industries, without the use of air purifiers. While not required, we provided them in classrooms this fall as an extra layer of mitigation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These classroom air purifiers are in addition to those that were already in place in school health and isolation rooms.  




What percent of federal grant money (ESSER funding) has already been spent? When will the remaining amount be spent and at what cadence (not allocated spent funds)? How is available funding being applied across each school?

As of August 31, 2021, OSD has spent $4,063,996 of its $17,620,430 in ESSER funds, leaving a balance of $13,556,433.84. We have spent all of ESSER I (CARES Act resources), about 40% of ESSER II funds, and none of ESSER III funds. Remaining funds will be expended in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years.


The cadence for how the remaining funds will be spent is largely dependent on existing and unanticipated health mitigation and support needs caused by the Pandemic. How to spend/divide the remaining ESSER funds this year and next is expected to come before the school board for discussion in November/December 2021. ESSER funds expire with no further carryover on August 31, 2023.

Funds are distributed to schools largely in the form of staffing allocations for instructional coaches, family liaisons, nurses and counselors. The district has hired 12 instructional coaches, 12 family liaisons, 2 social workers, 6 counselors and numerous health care staff. The staff members are assigned to schools on a basis of enrollment, age of students and student income factors. The district has also deployed more teachers this year, for smaller class sizes in our typical schools, and to enroll more students in our Virtual Academy of Olympia (VAO). At this time the district has planned for 11 teachers from ESSER funding. We are in the process of re-assessing this number given the significant enrollment this year in the VAO. While there are a few exceptions of class sizes at typical levels in our neighborhood elementary schools, many classrooms are 3-5 students lower than is typical. At the VAO, the district is continuing to address high enrollment by hiring and deploying additional teachers.

Grant Amount: $2,150,000
Spent as of 8/31/21: $2,150,000
Remaining Funds: $0

Grant Amount: $4,765,430
Spent as of 8/31/21: $1,913,996.16
Remaining Funds: $2,851,433.84

Grant Amount: $10,705,000
Spent as of 8/31/21: $0
Remaining Funds: $10,705,000