ASD Staff Insider

Important info for ASD staff - 3/4/22

Welcome to our bi-monthly staff newsletter! This goes out every other Friday to all staff, with a preview of the Education Insider - our newsletter for families.

Remember to also check out the Education Insider link, which includes information for both families and staff.

You'll find links to the Education Insider and Community Bulletin Board below.

Big picture

Updated Guidance re: Masks

As you saw, the state has moved up the lifting of the mask mandate to March 12. We are waiting for updated guidance from the state regarding distancing of desks, field trips, etc. We will keep staff updated as soon as we receive more information.

Addressing Anxiety

As COVID restrictions begin to loosen, please remember that some people may be excited, and some may feel increased fear and anxiety. We are here to support our students and staff through yet another COVID-related transition.

Please continue creating a culture in your classroom, department, or building of inclusion and acceptance, especially as masks become optional. Please do not group students into those wearing masks and those not. However, if you have a student who is uncomfortable sitting next to an unmasked student, please make accommodations for that student as you would for any other situation where a student is expressing struggles or anxiety.

The stress we all experience impacts our mental health in various ways, and we all manage it differently. One of your colleagues sent me some helpful resources the other day for teaching participants to identify, understand, and respond to mental health challenges. You may find these classes online here:

Please talk with your students about the varying emotions people will experience. Some students may be ready to burn their masks and dance for joy. Others may feel extreme anxiety. Name these emotions for students, create a community of empathy, and do not tolerate any person who harasses or bullies another student for a choice they made.

There may be situations where parents ask you to enforce that their child wears a mask at all times. It is not reasonable for you to monitor each student's mask-wearing all the time. As you would in any other case (such as requesting a student to wear their coat at recess or make sure they eat their lunch), do your best.

If students need additional support, please refer them to either counselors or principals.

Our job is to teach empathy and compassion and model it for our students and colleagues. I know you can do this because I see it every day.

Take care,


Big picture

Updating Staff Contact Info

Please make sure that we have your correct contact information. This is key for HR, Payroll, and for emergency notification purposes.

Check out Skyward, Employee Access, to ensure that everything is accurate. If you need to make any changes, contact Human Resources: Shelby VanderKooy ( or Laura Dennis (

Resources for Talking to Students about Current Events

The resources below may help you have conversations with our students about current events, such as the war in Ukraine.

* Focus on students and the classroom learning environment - retain classroom routines
* Provide structure
* Listen - be approachable, attentive and sensitive
* Acknowledge and validate feelings

Tough Topics for Military Kids | OSPI (

Additional resources can be found in our Education Insider for families.

Big picture

ASD Highly Capable Services

A Spring highly capable referral window will also be open to all ASD children from March 21-April 1. Referrals can be made by any adult familiar with the child using the High Capable Referal Form. (open on March 21) All students referred will be assessed in April.

This year, we are expanding universal screening for Highly Capable identification. All 2nd-grade and 5th-grade students will be screened in their classrooms during the month of March. Those showing potential for eligibility will be further assessed in April, along with all other referred students, after communication with families/caregivers.

A multidisciplinary selection committee meets to select eligible students for highly capable services. The spring meeting will take place in May, and communication about decisions will be sent to families/caregivers by the beginning of June.

Students who are eligible for Highly Capable services don't necessarily fit the mold of a 'bright student' or 'good student' in class. Children who are gifted are defined as those who demonstrate an advanced ability or potential (not necessarily academic achievement) in one or more specific areas of aptitude when compared to others of the same age, experience, or environment. They may excel in their ability to think, reason, and judge, making it necessary for them to receive special educational services and support to be able to fully develop their social, emotional, and/or academic potential.

If you are considering referring a child for Highly Capable services or would like to speak to parents about it, you may want to refer to this presentation shown at staff meetings last spring.

Please also reach out to Angie Miller ( if you have any questions.

Elementary Building Scheduling Committee

Committee members participated in the first of three committee meetings last week. Throughout the three meetings, the committee members will provide input and feedback to inform the district decision-making to redesign the elementary schedule. Please check out the Teaching and Learning: Internal District Work website to follow the committee work.

Inclusive Services Community Engagement Update

The Inclusive Services department will be conducting Community Engagement Groups beginning in April. The goal of this committee is to share experiences, review current programs, identify hopes of stakeholders, and examine state results indicators. The outcome of these meetings will identify areas of growth and develop partnerships to help all students find successful learning opportunities.

Questions? Contact Director of Inclusive Services, Shannon Gilbert, or (360) 503-1216

Big picture


We are still actively recruiting new substitutes for a variety of positions. Please apply online at For questions, please reach out to Shelby Vander Kooy in Human Resources -

Interested in volunteering, please connect with Laura Dennis in Human Resources at

And, as a reminder for current staff, please feel free to continue to use our ASD intranet site for current forms, procedures, and general information. It can be found by visiting:

Connie Sheridan-Director of Human Resources -

Education Insider Newsletter

Click here for the Education Insider - Important updates for ASD families