200317-yh-news-ysdday1-7.jpg

FILE — Student chairs are put away in an empty classroom at Robertson Elementary School Monday, March 16, 2020, in Yakima, Wash. All 15 Yakima County school districts canceled classes starting Monday, March 16.

The Yakima School District announced Wednesday morning that it will begin returning five grades of students to part-time in-person learning beginning the week of March 1.

The plan calls for bringing back kindergartners, first and second graders, sixth graders, and ninth graders to transition to hybrid learning the week of March 1.

The remaining eight K-12 grade levels are expected to return to campus part-time the week of March 15. That will cover grades 3-5, 7-8, and 10-12.

The decision comes after a Tuesday afternoon announcement by the Yakima Health District OK'ing the part-time return of high school students to campus. Earlier this week, the Yakima School District said it would introduce roughly 3,000 students to in-person learning support beginning next week.

The district said in a Wednesday statement that schools will contact impacted families two weeks prior to students return with further details. Students’ schedules will largely be based on last name.

“Successful implementation will hinge on variables such as the health of our community, the health of our labor force, the continued availability of PPE (personal protective equipment), cleaning and sanitation resources, and continued and new funding for resources to support our schools during this pandemic,” the statement said.

“As we have throughout this pandemic, we will proceed cautiously and proactively and will monitor many factors to determine if our operations are in the best interest of our students and our staff,” it said.

In its Tuesday announcement, the local health district said that the county’s most recent two-week case rate was 588 per 100,000 population — well above a state school target of under 200 cases per 100,000 population over two weeks.

Still, it said, "the significant effect remote learning has had on families, parents, and educators" begs for alternatives to remote learning.

The story is developing and will be updated.

Reach Janelle Retka at jretka@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: @janelleretka