Naches Valley and Highland school districts plan to return elementary-aged students to in-person learning beginning Oct. 19 in light of recent Yakima Health District guidance.
For Naches, students in grades K-4 will return to campus. Students in grades K-3 will return to Highland.
Both districts are determining timelines for older students’ return to campuses, with Naches Valley expecting a decision from the school board on Oct. 12.
The planning comes in response to a Monday announcement from the Yakima Health District that K-5 students can return to campus full-time as early as Oct. 12 as community COVID-19 rates improve. Students in grades 6-8 may return part-time as early as Nov. 2, while grades 9-12 can resume part-time three weeks after middle school students’ return, or as early as Nov. 23. The guidance depends on stable daily case counts and hospitalization rates.
All schools are required to provide a remote learning alternative and must follow health recommendations such as grouping students into cohorts, requiring masks, social distancing and screening students each day.
While the county has not met a state-recommended threshold for students to return to in-person learning, the health district said it could conduct thorough contact tracing to prevent outbreaks and that the benefit of returning to school in-person is especially great for the Yakima community.
The majority of local districts are creating or have created timelines for a fall return to in-person learning. Yakima School District is maintaining its plans for remote learning through the end of the semester.
Mabton School District could not immediately be reached for comment.