Aug 26 Back to school I

Yakima School District superintendent Trevor Greene, right, says hello to a kindergarten student during an individual conference with their teacher Sara Coyner, left, during the first day of school at McKinley Elementary School on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020 in Yakima, Wash.

The vast majority of Yakima School District students will remain in 100% remote learning as the second semester of the school year begins in late January, the district announced Friday.

In a letter to parents Friday morning, Superintendent Trevor Greene said that the decision had been made in light of “recent high transmission rates of COVID-19 in the Yakima community.”

The district was in remote learning for the first semester, with the exception of small groups of students phased in for tutoring or in-person support.

The district has identified nine groups for in-person support, including teen parents, some students in special education, students experiencing homelessness, and English learners, among others.

Four of those groups had returned to campus in some capacity. Teen parents and three groups of special education students who have already been brought back on campus will temporarily move to remote learning from Jan. 4-18, the announcement said.

“This is in anticipation of a spike of high transmission of COVID-19 after the holidays,” it said.

The remaining subgroups will continue to be phased in late January and beyond, as planned. Transitional kindergarten, a pre-kindergarten program to help students without classroom exposure get prepared for the K-12 system, is among those groups and will begin Jan. 25.

The district remains in Phase B of a four-part reopening plan. Phase C, which would begin as hybrid or partial in-person learning and transition to full in-person learning for all students broken into small groups, is anticipated when the county has 15-59 cases or less per 100,000 population over two weeks.

From Nov. 16-29, Yakima County had a rate of 481.7 cases per 100,000 population, according to the state Department of Health.

The district will have virtual Q/A sessions with Greene on Jan. 4 for staff, Jan. 5 for elementary students’ parents, and Jan. 7 for parents of middle and high school students.

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