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E-Newsletter: Governor Inslee’s Reopening Plan

May 8th, 2020|

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Because of election year restrictions, this is the last e-newsletter you will receive from me until November. During that time, I will also be unable to update my website.

Before those restrictions take effect, I wanted to update you about some important issues currently facing Washingtonians.

Most of you will have heard that Governor Jay Inslee has announces a plan for re-opening Washington state. I stand behind the governor and his plans. For the sake of our health and our economy, we must take a phased-in, measured approach to re-opening the various parts of our economy. I’ve included more information about the plans below.

As a reminder, you can still take the 2020 Census. The census is essential to ensuring that our communities receive adequate funding for the coming decade, and for ensuring appropriate government representation. You can take the census or learn more at 2020census.gov.

In the coming months, please take care of yourselves, your families and your neighbors. I know that the COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on everyone, but I know that if we work together, we can get through this.

Sincerely,

Lisa

Safe Start Washington

In an effort to keep Washingtonians safe, Governor Jay Inslee announced that the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order will remain in place through May 31. He also announced a phased in, data-driven approach to re-opening the state. We are currently in Phase One of this plan.

All reopening activities depend on our success in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and meeting four goals: health care system readiness, testing capacity, ability to perform contact tracing, and ability to protect high-risk populations.

Every phase will still require physical distancing and appropriate health precautions. During all phases, individuals should continue to practice social distancing, wear a face mask in public, and wash hands frequently.

There will be a minimum of three weeks between each phase in order to allow one complete disease incubation period and an additional week to compile data and confirm trends. The governor and public health officials will look at numerous data sources to determine when we can move to the next phase safely. You can check out their data dashboard here and learn more about the plan here.

Coronavirus Information

March 24th, 2020|

When to seek medical evaluation and advice

  • If you have a cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, speak with your healthcare provider before going to a medical facility. Do not go to an emergency room.
  • If you believe you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms, call 9-1-1.

Washington State’s Coronavirus Response

The Washington State Coronavirus Website

This website features the most up-to-date and accurate information about coronavirus in Washington state. The website includes, but is not limited to:

  • Information about Gov. Jay Inslee’s orders
  • Statistics about coronavirus cases
  • Multilingual resources
  • Information about businesses and workers

Washington State Department of Health

The Washington State Department of Health’s Website

Coronavirus Hotline: 1-800-525-0127 (staffed from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m, seven days a week)

The Washington State Department of Health coronavirus website provides a comprehensive look at the situation in Washington. The website includes, but is not limited to:

  • Information about testing
  • Statewide statistics
  • Contact information for local health jurisdictions

School Closures and Education Information

The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Website

This website provides information for parents, educators and school districts about how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting local schools — and the resources and best practices that will help communities deal with the closures. The website includes, but is not limited to:

  • Information about school meals
  • Parent guides in both English and Spanish
  • Tips for talking to kids about coronavirus
  • Guidance for school districts about various topics

King County’s Coronavirus Response

King County Public Health’s Website

King County Coronavirus Call Center: 206-477-3977 (Staffed from 8 a.m. to 7  p.m., seven days a week)

This website provides King County-specific information about the Coronavirus pandemic, and how it is being addressed locally. The website includes, but is not limited to:

  • Instructions on what to do if you are ill
  • Accurate local statistics
  • Public health recommendations in several languages

Additional Information

Articles about coronavirus and K-12 education:

How Will Schools Provide Special Education During the Coronavirus Crisis? (Education Week)

E-Newsletter: Coronavirus Resources

March 20th, 2020|

Dear Friends and Neighbors of the 41st Legislative District,

My thoughts go out to you and your families as you work to keep yourselves and your families healthy during this coronavirus outbreak. We are all deeply saddened for the families who have suffered loss or who are currently suffering.

I’m sure that many of you are scared, worried and stressed as we all try to get through this unprecedented event. It can be hard in times like these to know where to turn, and where to find the most up-to-date and accurate information.

www.coronavirus.wa.gov

This website contains a wealth of information from Governor Jay Inslee’s office, our state agencies, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more. In this note I’ve included a lot of the helpful information – from tools for handling stress, to resources for our out-of-work neighbors, to tips for talking to kids. But I encourage you to explore this website for yourselves, and to pass it on to others in our community who have questions.

In addition, I have heard from many people who are being laid off from their hospitality and restaurant jobs as well as the owners of these establishments who are seeking assistance to cover payroll or otherwise maintain their business.   There is information further down on the Small Business Association and other resources that should become available, I hope very shortly.

What to do if you are ill

If you are ill with fever and a cough or non-acute shortness of breath, please stay home. If you are unsure of how to care for yourself or are concerned about your condition, call your health care provider for advice. If you feel you need to visit your doctor, call them first. Keep yourself separated from other people and animals in your home. Cover your coughs and sneezes and wash your hands often.

Leave some for your neighbor – don’t buy more than you need!

Washington State’s supply chains are operating normally, yet consumers are overstocking and clearing store shelves of the items that sick neighbors, doctors, dentists and emergency response personnel need to stay safe. Health experts emphasize the best way to protect yourself from infection is through washing your hands frequently and limiting contact with others, not by overstocking certain supplies. Leave some for the folks who need them most!

Supporting affected employers and workers

State agencies have been working with federal agencies, employers and workers to support businesses and workers affected by COVID-19.

Resources for you and your family

We all play a part in stopping the spread of coronavirus. Learn how to protect and care for yourself and your family, how to cope with feelings of isolation or anxiety, determine whether you or a loved one is at higher risk from COVID-19, and find resources to get the care you need.

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email or phone. Please keep yourselves, your families and your neighbors safe and healthy.

Lisa

E-Newsletter: Coronavirus Update and Information

March 6th, 2020|

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I wanted to send an update to our community with some resources and information about coronavirus from the Washington State Department of Health and Public Health: Seattle & King County. These resources include ways to keep yourselves and your loved ones healthy, and to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

In addition to the resources from our local and state health departments, I’d like to share a website put together by Mercer Island High School student Avi Schiffran. This website compiles data, maps, FAQs, prevention information and statistics. You can find the information here: https://ncov2019.live/data

If you’re currently experiencing symptoms of coronoavirus, please call your doctor. Don’t go to a clinic or hospital. Your doctor will make an assessment about next steps and contact public health officials if a test is needed.

If you are in King County and believe you were exposed to a confirmed case of coronavirus but don’t have a doctor to call, stay home and contact the King County novel coronavirus call center at 206-477-3977.

Symptoms of coronavirus include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath

The following measures can help keep you and loved ones healthy:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Use hand sanitizers if you are unable to wash your hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Covering your coughs and sneezes with an elbow, sleeve or tissue.
  • Good personal health habits (diet/exercise).
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Avoid touching your face.

Additional Resources:

The Washington State Department of Health has also established a call center to address questions. Given the high call volume, it is best to research general questions online if you can. If you need advice about what to do if you have symptoms, you can call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.

You can stay informed at these pages:

You can find information about how the situation affects school closures here.

What we are doing in Olympia

The Senate passed an operating budget last week that dramatically increased funding for coronavirus response with an additional $10 million for public health.

Much more funding is on the way. New legislation to transfer $100 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund into the state disaster response account has passed the House, and we passed it the Senate yesterday (HB 2965).You can read more about that bill here.

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email, phone or social media, including Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for the honor of serving you in Olympia.

Take care of yourselves and each other,
Lisa

 

Survey: Parents & guardians, what is your experience with school bullying/harassment policies?

October 23rd, 2019|

This interim, the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee is working to learn more about state and federal laws regarding harassment, intimidation, bullying and discrimination — and how those laws are being implemented in Washington schools.

We know that school safety is a growing concern for students and parents statewide. We also know that creating a safe school environment isn’t just about headline-grabbing issues like school shootings. We must consider the social and emotional well-being of students and confront the issues they face in their daily lives.

That’s why the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee is asking parents and guardians to take this survey to help inform our work: https://bit.ly/2J9uj4N

The survey is open through Nov. 1.

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    Wellman: “We will not turn our backs on our friends and neighbors who have made Washington their home”

Wellman: “We will not turn our backs on our friends and neighbors who have made Washington their home”

September 26th, 2019|

Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island) released the following statement in response to a press conference held today by Nathalie Asher, director of Seattle’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field office. During her remarks, Asher specifically referenced Senate Bill 5497, the Keep Washington Working Act, which was sponsored by Wellman in the Legislature and enacted earlier this year.

“Our nation and our state could not have been built without the hands of hard-working immigrants who came from around the world seeking better lives for themselves and their families. Despite renewed pressure from our federal government, we refuse to turn our backs on our friends and neighbors who have made Washington their home.

Our economy and the very structure of our society depend on the new ideas, vital services and the determination to succeed that immigrants bring in to our communities. They are our doctors, our home healthcare workers, our tech geniuses, our farm workers, our own parents and grandparents, and the families who live next door. We cannot, in good faith, stand back and watch them be vilified and separated from their children.

The Keep Washington Working Act ensures that our tax dollars pay for Washington services and Washington values, and I stand by it. We’re creating a positive business environment in which all people can succeed.”

Wellman worked closely with state agencies and law enforcement while crafting the Keep Washington Working Act. It is supported by Gov. Jay Inslee and by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, whose letter of support can be found here.

Legislature increases funding for special education

May 13th, 2019|

A bill signed today by Gov. Jay Inslee increases funding for special education, paving the way for more inclusive learning environments.

Senate Bill 5091 was sponsored by Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island), who chairs the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education committee. The additional special education funding comes at the request of parents, teachers and schools.

“We know that Washington’s special education students aren’t as successful as students in other states, and that is absolutely unacceptable,” Wellman said. “In order to make meaningful changes, including more inclusive learning environments, we must allocate additional funding to implement evidence-based practices.”

“Improving our special education practices will take more work in coming years, but the changes we made this year are a great step,” she added.

The bill includes a two-year phase in of increased special education funding, with schools receiving more money when they offer more inclusive learning environments.

During the 2019-20 school year, the state’s cost multiplier for special education funding increases from 0.9609 to 0.995. This multiplier would be applied to calculate the amount of general education funding that each student receives in a given school district. For example, in a school district with $1,000 in per pupil funding, the district would be allocated $1,995 for each special education student.

Beginning in the 2020-21 school year, the state’s cost multiplier would increase to 1.0075 for special education students learning in a general education environment for 80 percent or more of the school day. For example, in a school district with $1,000 in per pupil funding, the district would be allocated $2,007.5 for each special education student.

The state’s cost multiplier would remain at 0.995 for special education students learning in a general education environment for less than 80 percent of the school day.

School districts that demonstrate significant extra need beyond what they receive from this formula would be eligible for safety net funds.

In Washington, less than 4 percent of students with disabilities are identified as having an intellectual disability, and more than 90 percent have above average intellectual functioning, according to data from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. But only 55 percent are placed in general education for 80 to 100 percent of the day. For students of color, the number is even lower — only 47 percent.

“Evidence shows that students who are included in general education have better outcomes,” Wellman said. “We know that this takes more resources, but it’s what we should be working toward.”

Governor signs Wellman bill to expand broadband service

May 13th, 2019|

Gov. Inslee signed a bill today to expand broadband access to underserved communities. Senate Bill 5511 was sponsored by Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island).

“Expanding internet access throughout Washington state will increase equity in both education and business,” Wellman said. “Many of us simply can’t get through the day without accessing the internet. But we still have so many rural communities that don’t have access to this essential service.”

The bill establishes the Governor’s Statewide Broadband Office. This office previously existed in Washington state but was eliminated in 2014. It also requires the Public Works Board to establish a competitive grant and loan program to help develop broadband service to unserved or underserved areas.

Some public utility districts will temporarily be allowed to provide retail telecommunications services. Port districts will be able to provide telecommunications services within and outside of their district limits, as a result of the bill.

“I want every child in Washington to have access to the rich learning experiences that internet access provides,” Wellman said. “Far too many kids in rural communities lack that access, which is truly necessary to a modern education.”

Governor signs bipartisan school safety measure

May 8th, 2019|

unding K-12 education is the paramount duty of the state, yet students need far more than just academics in school. More resources, more coordination, and more support is needed to help all schools improve training and safety measures. Those are the guiding principles behind House Bill 1216, the bipartisan school safety measure by Rep. Laurie Dolan (D-Olympia), vice chair of the House Education Committee.

The bill was signed into law by Governor Inslee today.

The legislation is the product of a 10-month stakeholder process with parents, teachers, students, school leaders, and community safety experts that began after the 2018 legislative session, to create a robust plan for school safety and student well-being.

The bill will create “Regional School Safety Centers” across the state to provide training, support, and coordination to educators and students. Amended into the legislation are the provisions of Senate Bill 5141 by Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island), chair of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee, regarding School Resource Officer (SRO) training and policies. Wellman also introduced the companion to Dolan’s bill in the Senate.

“We’ve heard from students, parents, teachers and administrators that school safety is a growing and ongoing concern,” Wellman said. “Each and every student should feel safe and secure as they go to class, and every parent should know that their child will return home at the end of the day. This bill is a great step toward ensuring that reality.”

The bill requires each of our nine educational service districts to establish Regional School Safety Centers to provide training in behavioral health coordination, suicide prevention, school-based threat assessment, as well as staff assistance in crisis situations, technical assistance, and partnership development and collaboration. The final 2019-20 state operating budget provides funding for one FTE in each Regional Safety Center.

“Moving forward, I plan to continue working with budget leaders to provide funding for additional FTEs to maximize the efforts of the Regional Safety Centers,” said Rep. Dolan.

A State School Safety Center is also established within the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to serve as a clearinghouse and to disseminate information regarding school safety. It will also develop model policies and procedures, identify best practices, and provide training on school safety. The state center will work with the regional centers to help school districts meet state school safety requirements.

Public engagement will continue through the School Safety and Student Well-Being Advisory Committee. The advisory committee will meet at least quarterly to make recommendations on policies and strategies, and identify emerging safety issues. By Jan. 1, 2020, the Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA), in collaboration with the OSPI, must develop a model policy and procedure to establish a School-Based Threat Assessment Program. During this process, WSSDA, OSPI and the advisory committee will work with organizations with expertise in school safety, behavioral health, the rights of students with disabilities, and protecting civil liberties.

The bill also mandates training for SROs in school districts that choose to have them. The school district must confirm that every SRO has received training on twelve topics — including relevant federal and state laws — best practices on working with youth, and alternatives to arrest and prosecution. By the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, school districts must annually review and adopt an agreement with the local law enforcement agency that incorporates specified elements, such as defining the duties of a SRO, confirmation that SROs are trained, and a complaint process.

“As a grandparent, an educator for 30 years, and now as a legislator, there’s probably nothing more important to me than school safety and student well-being. Those two have to go hand in hand because kids not only need to be safe, they need to feel safe in our schools,” said Rep. Dolan.

Legislature passes school levy agreement

April 29th, 2019|

The Washington State Legislature reached an agreement Sunday, and passed an update to the state’s school enrichment levy policy to better serve students, teachers and Washington’s 295 school districts.

The bill now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for signing.

In 2017, the Legislature made historic changes to the state’s school levy policy to satisfy the state Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling that basic education must be funded by the state, not by local levy dollars. Senate Bill 5313, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island), updates that policy by allowing local taxing authority for non-basic education programs such as athletic teams, debate clubs, summer learning programs, field trips, mentoring, and teacher training.

“Local communities should be able to decide what’s important to them when it comes to enrichment programs that fall outside the realm of basic education,” Wellman said. “And that’s what this bill allows. We brought the levy cap down too hard in 2017, and it’s time to make adjustments.”

The bill is the result of discussions with districts, teachers, parents and students over the past year. People from throughout Washington testified in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee, chaired by Wellman, asking for changes to the enrichment levy policy.

SB 5313 would allow levies in the amounts of:

  • The lesser of $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed value or $2,500 per pupil for school districts with fewer than 40,000 FTE students; and
  • The lesser of $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed value or $3,000 per pupil for school districts with 40,000 FTE students or more.

Districts would receive local effort assistance funding when a district receives less than $1,550 per student with a levy rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Tribal compact schools and other identified school districts will be eligible for specific local effort assistance funds.

The bill would ensure that enrichment levies are used only for enrichment activities — not basic education — by directing the state auditor to review local revenue expenditures. A school district found to have used levy funds for non-enrichment activities would see its levy rates reduced for the following year in an amount equal to the amount spent improperly.

“This agreement allows local communities to fund programs they value without triggering another pre-McCleary situation,” Wellman said. “Local levies shouldn’t pay for basic K-12 education, and we’ve taken that into account. This bill has teeth, ensuring that enrichment levies pay only for non-basic activities that local taxpayers choose.”