Update from Superintendent Greene

Friday, December 11, 2020

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Yakima School District Community,

**Please note that as of January 7, 2021, this information remains current.**

I hope this letter finds you and your family well and healthy. At the Yakima School District, we value keeping you informed of important decisions with plenty of notice so that you can make plans for your family. Due to recent high transmission rates of COVID-19 in the Yakima community, the Yakima School District has made the following decisions:

  • We will continue to phase in small subgroups for some tutoring and in-person support. We have identified nine subgroups and have completed the phase-in process for four subgroups.

  • The majority of students will remain in 100% online learning at the start of the second semester (quarter 3) on January 25, 2021.

  • Subgroups 1-4 currently receiving some in-person support (mainly students in our special education program) will learn remotely January 4 - 18, 2021. This is in anticipation of a spike of high transmission of COVID-19 after the holidays.

The staff and leadership of the Yakima School District miss working with students in-person each day and we, along with our community, look forward to the day we all reunite in person. We continue to work to keep our staff and families safe and healthy and we appreciate your support during these difficult times.

We need to remind our families who have students in high school, that Washington State still requires 24 credits to graduate. Students and parents/guardians must know their student’s graduation status at all times. If you feel you do not know this information, you are encouraged to reach out to your students’ teachers, counselors, and school administrators immediately. During remote learning, it is even more important that schools and families work together to remain connected so that we can all best support students.


Trevor Greene, Superintendent of Schools

Yakima School District

FAQ (including responses from the streamed parent sessions January 5 and 7)

Q. What are the nine subgroups?

A. We have created this document that gives a brief description of the small subgroups. Most students are remote and not in a subgroup.

Q. What are the four stages of the YSD Reopening Plan and where are we in that plan today?

A. We have just begun Stage B of the YSD Reopening Plan. We have created this visual to help you understand the plan.

Q. The Yakima Health Department is only reporting one positive COVID-19 case for the Yakima School District. Is that accurate?

A. No. The local health department will be reporting our data more frequently once we have larger populations in-person. We track positive COVID-19 cases at YSD and report them weekly here.

Q. I am worried about the social-emotional health of my child. What can I do?

A. We know that students do best when they have routine both socially and academically; that is part of healthy development. We miss seeing your child. If your child is struggling please get in contact with your student's teachers, school counselor, and principal and express your concerns. In addition, we have a list of community resources on our website here. Your child’s mental health is important. If your child is in crisis, please reach out for support. If you need immediate assistance please call the national hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also access help and support online using the search line Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Q. Why didn't YSD go to hybrid learning in November with some surrounding districts?

A. We did not feel the health of our community was stable enough for a district of 16,000 to embrace in-person learning. As is occurring in surrounding districts, YSD parents showed concern about having to pivot back and forth and find care/supervision for their children at the last minute. As planned, we began bringing in small subgroups of students in early fall. The number of students receiving some in-person support at YSD is a similar or greater number than surrounding districts.

Q. Why can't parents choose whether they want their child in-person or remote?

A. Until we are in hybrid learning, parents can choose the 100% online school or to be remote with their student's current teacher. It is YSD's responsibility to keep our district community safe, and that not only includes students but also our staff, many of whom are at high risk for COVID-19. We continue to increase the population of in-person learners as planned. On January 25, Transitional Kindergartners will be in-person and on February 8, students in high need categories will be invited for some in-person tutoring.

Q. When we are in hybrid learning, will parents have the option to send their children all week or just two days.

A. So that we have space to social distance, students will receive in-person support two days a week when we launch subgroup 9 (hybrid learning).

Q. When will Kindergartners receive in-person support? It is very difficult for this young age to learn remotely.

A. We have been impressed with some Kinder success stories we are hearing from parents. That said, Kinder is our first group that will return for hybrid learning, followed by first, second, and so on.

Q. Could the district give options to teachers willing to do in-person learning for our young children, allowing more children to return to in-person?

A. Yes, that is the plan for subgroup six (Tier II and Tier III tutoring) which starts February 8.

Q. If our children go back to in-person and staff at the school believe they have covid symptoms will there be on-site testing?

A. Students/parents will complete attestation for the student prior to coming into the building attesting that they do not have any covid related symptoms. However, if a student begins to exhibit symptoms they may be referred to the nurse to address the situation and parents will be contacted. On-site testing is voluntary and parents will be contacted to make the decision for their son or daughter. Symptomatic testing will be done by our COVID Response Team as needed. Testing is free and results will be available in approximately 48 hrs.

Q. What precautions are in place to let students return to in-person, (i.e. plexiglass, desks distanced, etc.)?

A. We have many precautions in place for when we return to in-person learning. This includes screening for symptoms, temperature check, signage providing directions and guidance (such as reminders to social distance, wear your mask, and handwashing),

desks spaced according to guidelines and plexiglass as needed.

Students will be issued face coverings (masks) or can bring their own.

If they need a face shield, one will be provided.

We are embracing teacher training around protocols to keep students safe.

Our custodians disinfect and sanitize nightly.

Q. Will the senior class of 2021 be able to come back at all before graduation?

A. Currently the Yakima Health District does not recommend a safe return of high school students while a community is experiencing over 200 cases/100,000 over 14 days. We are tracking cases for the zip codes that attend the Yakima School District and so far, cases far exceed 200. You can help by wearing a mask when outside your home, not attending social functions, and getting tested when applicable. We are hopeful that the community will accept and receive vaccinations at their first opportunity.

Q. Can our seniors get one-on-one (not virtual) assistance to know how to apply for financial aid, apply to colleges, apply for scholarships, etc.?

A. Please contact the counselor at your high school. They are here to help support your student as they transition to college or post-secondary. If you are having difficulty connecting with them, you can call the principal of your school.

Q. My child is thriving in distance learning. Will distance learning be available after the pandemic?

A. A silver lining of the pandemic is the attention and resources that have been provided to increase technology preparedness in many districts. The Yakima School District is now a one-to-one device district and teachers have gone through extensive training to incorporate technology into their teachings. As always, Yakima Online, for 6-12 graders is available. We added a 100% online school for K-5 this year and will continue online resources for these grade levels should the demand be present.

Q. Are you making decisions for subgroups to return to in-person learning based on funding?

A. The only group that is impacted by funding (meaning the funding would be lost if we do not act) is the 15 Transitional Kindergarten students (4-year-olds) in subgroup five who need to start receiving instruction by January 25. Receiving instruction does not mean they will automatically be in person however this group is small enough that if they are in person, we feel can safely ensure they are following health district guidelines.

Q. Why are you letting kids who are not participating go back to school before those who are?

A. We agree some students are not participating out of choice, and schools are working hard to engage with them, however, some are not participating due to circumstances out of their control. This is much different than in the classroom. Students in the classroom setting are in a controlled learning environment.

Q. When will YV-TECH (skills center) go back to some in-person learning? It is a hands-one learning environment and very difficult to do from home.


YV-Tech is working on plans to bring back students. They are first focusing on seniors who need hands-on skill proficiency to earn their credit or industry certification. With 11 different local districts that receive services from YV-TECH, coordination is difficult as all districts are in very different phases of learning. Also, there are elevated risks of exposure in some of these programs: sharing tools, hands in mouths in the dental program, cosmetology, etc. We are working with the health district on the extra measures that need to be in place or purchased.

More questions and answers will be added here as needed. Do you have a question about the YSD Reopening Plan? Please go to https://www.ysd7.org/letstalk and click on Communications to submit your question. Thank you.

There will be a virtual Thought Exchange and Streamed Answer Session with Superintendent Greene on January 4 for staff, January 5 for parents/guardians of elementary students, and January 7 for parents/guardians of students in middle and high school. More info here.