COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

  • April 6th, 2020 (En Español)

    Selah School District Learning Community, 

    Hello students, staff and families.  I hope you are adjusting somewhat to at-home life and staying healthy during this pandemic that is impacting all of us.  I have some news to share that will affect the remainder of the school year.

    Today, Governor Jay Inslee officially closed all schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.  This is a tough day for everyone who works in or is associated with education in Washington. Schools are a place not only for learning, but they are a place where people connect with one another, form strong relationships, celebrate successes, build resiliency and ultimately shape the foundation for our future.  I know that many of you, especially our seniors, are experiencing a tremendous sense of loss right now. I feel it too and empathize with you.

    However, we know that challenges only become obstacles when we bow to them.  We have a great opportunity here to reimagine the benefits of the in-person schooling experience.  My hope is to continue many of these benefits, even at a distance, so that we may fulfill the promises of our educational system.  Surely, we don’t expect or endeavor to replace those personal experiences, but we can and will do our best at making the remainder of this year meaningful.

    As a district, we are committed to doing whatever we can to be a resource to our community, our families, our staff and most importantly our students.  In the days ahead, and as we receive more guidance from the State, we will be adapting our plans and communicating with everyone about the remainder of the school year.  There are a lot of questions to answer as this is very unchartered territory. I know, however, that we have the right people and the support of our community to rise to this challenge.  I thank you, sincerely, for your patience and your grace. We will get through this...together. We are Selah strong!

     

    Respectfully,

    Shane Backlund, Superintendent

    Selah School District


    March 27, 2020 (En Español)

    Selah School District Learning Community,

    I hope this message finds you healthy and safe during these uncertain times.  The stay-at-home order by the Governor has put a strain on everyone, but as an essential service provider the District has been working hard to continue its meal service, child care for first responders and healthcare workers, as well as establishing academic resources for students.  I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished to this point.

    I hope that you have been able to utilize the resource page located on our website we established on Monday, March 23.  While not the same as the face-to-face interaction with our amazing staff, our intent is to provide things to keep kids somewhat academically engaged during this time.  As a side note, our district has been operating under an assumption that we will extend the school year until June 19. This is ten additional days past our original end date of June 5.  Because of this, we’ve asked our teaching staff to not work the past two weeks so that they can make those 10 days up in their contract at the end of the year. Teachers will begin their contracted days again on Tuesday, March 31.  This is the reason we have not been able to start teacher-to-student contact until next week. I’m sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused, but these are the circumstances that we are faced with currently.   

    Next week you can expect to receive communication in the form of a phone call or video chat from one of your child’s teachers.  Instead of our typical conference week, the District will be doing a check-in with each family and student to see how they are doing, ask some questions about access to the internet and devices, discuss some upcoming academic options and find convenient times for making telephone or virtual connections.  Our intent is to roll these out to students after spring break, beginning April 13.

    The District also has been working on plans to ensure families have access to devices (at grades 2-12) and potential internet access. We have started distributing devices at grades 2-12 for those who do not have one at home, and will continue to do so as necessary.  Finally, we have put a list of  internet options on our website for those who currently don’t have access at home, which you can find here.

    I know there is a lot of uncertainty out there and I realize the pressure everyone is under at this time.  Know that we miss seeing our kids’ faces and look forward to the day when we are able to open our doors back up at our schools.  Until then, we will continue to focus on being a resource to our community and doing our best at providing academic support to our students.  Take care, be safe and we’ll see you soon.

    Respectfully,

    Shane Backlund, Superintendent


     

    March 23, 2020 (En Español)

    Dear Selah School District Learning Community:

    I hope this letter finds you healthy during these uncertain times.  The unprecedented school closure, and now the stay-at-home directive from the Yakima Health District,  has generated a number of questions and complications around providing traditional school services to our community.  I understand this and share your frustrations and confusion. As a district, we want nothing more than to help our students, but we find ourselves in a complicated situation that evolves almost daily.

    Selah School District’s top priority, for the time being, is to use our organization to provide stability and resources to our community.  As you may have seen in last week’s communication, we have implemented plans to make sure that students have meals, are beginning to provide healthcare workers and first responders access to child care and are working on ensuring students have access to educational resources.

    However, the reality is that we cannot continue to deliver educational curriculum in the way that many of you may have been anticipating.  The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) issued specific requirements that districts must be able to guarantee if they are to “hold school,” even remotely, during a time of extended closure.  If we cannot satisfy those requirements, we cannot continue moving forward through the curriculum.  Until further notice during this extended closure, teachers will not be continuing to teach their course material, with a few exceptions detailed below.  We are essentially “pressing pause” on the curriculum where we left off on Friday, March 13, with a plan to resume from that point when school is back in session on April 27.  If our plans change due to additional closures, we will modify it to try to expand on what we are able to provide.

    In the meantime, our goal is to create learning materials and activities that can help students do the following things:

    • Review material that they may have already covered, but not yet mastered.
    • Practice skills that are necessary for learning and proficiency in a particular subject.
    • Engage in enrichment activities or independent projects in a particular subject area.
    • Identify an area of interest in a subject area to research and explore.

    Given our current restrictions, these learning activities are not required, nor will they be graded. 

    These learning opportunities are supplemental and designed to keep students connected with some of the content and the skills they need to resume school successfully.  They are not meant to replace our core curriculum and instruction.

    This approach is in line with OSPI’s guidelines and recommendations.  Also, it is aligned with what a majority of our neighboring districts are doing, and will be the practice of all Selah schools until further notice.

    As a high school community, we have students who are planning for graduation, preparing for various exams, enrolled in College in the High School course, and worry about how this “pause in curriculum” may impact their learning. Here is what we know now:

    • We are still waiting on updated guidance from OSPI and the State Board of Education regarding graduation requirements.
    • Our district has been in touch with universities to determine next steps with College in the High School courses and are waiting to hear back.
    • Part of our work will be to have staff working specifically on plans for 12th grade students to ensure they are able to meet the potentially changing graduation requirements.

    Our intent for the immediate future is to provide families with resources to support their students at home.  Please follow this link for an extensive website of available resources. You can contact the Student Learning office at 698-8003 with questions about these resources or email jenniferkindle@selahschools.org. The exception to this will be a potentially varied plan for seniors, students working toward credit retrieval and some of our special populations with more intensive needs.  More information on students in these categories will be forthcoming.

    Of primary concern to all of us is the ability to offer educational opportunities to everyone in an equitable manner.  This includes providing support for those who do not have access to devices for use in supporting learning. To help ensure that we are able to get devices, such as Chromebooks, to those who may need them we are asking for families without access to a device at home for their child to follow this link or call 509-698-8000 and leave us a message with your circumstances.  You can also call us at 698-8000 to request a device. Once we have this information we will work on a distribution plan for these devices and communicate that to those individuals.  For the time being, we are limiting devices to students in grades 2-12. For students in grades kindergarten and first, we are working on providing hard copy learning resources. We will be communicating more about that in the next couple of days.

    In addition, we are working on a plan to be able to communicate with all students and families during our traditional conference week of March 31 through April 3.  More details about what this opportunity (probably by telephone) will look like is coming later this week.

    Please know that our staff is committed to serving students and helping them get the best education possible.  Also know that when making these decisions, the District, building and union leadership have worked to consider as many circumstances and factors as possible, and we believe that our approach is reasonable, sustainable, and equitable for all students.

    As always, I thank you for your support and flexibility during this health crisis our country is facing.  Selah is a strong community, made up of resilient people and those willing to lend a hand. It will take that spirit and more to get us through this, but I’m confident that we can and will, together.

    Respectfully,

    Shane Backlund, Superintendent

    Selah School District


    March 16, 2020 5:00 PM (En Español)

    Dear Selah School District Learning Community,

    During these past couple of weeks, we have experienced great challenge, with a vision of uncertainty.  I want to thank staff, families, and patrons for their patience as we work through the current reality of dealing with the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in our lives.  I am proud to be a part of a community where we supported each other to keep schools operational for as long as we did.    

    In education, as each week begins anew, we are reminded about our commitment to kids and their well-being.  As we continue to navigate this unparalleled challenge to our school system, let us remember that the institution of education is a strong and trusted establishment.  That is why in the quickly changing face of COVID-19, we have been working to make the safest decisions for students and families.

    This past Friday, March 13, Governor Jay Inslee, announced the closure of all Washington State schools beginning Tuesday, March 17 and extending through at least April 24.  Learning this information, the Selah School District made the decision to hold classes on Monday, March 16.  This was done so teachers could have a final contact day with students, discuss outstanding assignments, as well as provide reassurance.  Additionally, the District wanted to utilize this day so parents could pick-up medications and students could gather personal items needed during the closure.  However, this decision was altered when Governor Inslee issued the order Sunday evening that no more than 50 people could gather at one place.  Thus, the safest decision for our students was to close school today.

    I understand that this extended closure creates challenges for many families, as schools provide stability and routine to communities.  This time of extraordinary challenge not only disrupts our educational system, but our everyday life as well.  I know questions have arisen, and the District leadership team has worked quickly to provide answers and implement procedures to support Selah students and families.  The following is guidance for what we currently know:

    • Facility Closures:

    Beginning today, March 16, all Selah School District facilities, including the district office, closed to the public. Facilities will remain closed until further notice.  We understand that families have questions and we are here to provide assistance.  Please contact us at 698-8000 or schoolclosure@selahschools.org. 

    • Last Day of School:

    The tentative last day of school in the District will now be Friday, June 19.  This is 10 additional days past our currently scheduled last day of Friday, June 5.  More information will be forthcoming.

    • Food Services:

    Beginning Wednesday, March 18 and continuing through April 24 (with the exception of Spring Break April 6-10), free breakfast and lunch meals will be available for all children ages 18 and younger.  Children must be present to take possession of the meals provided.  To begin with, the District has designated pick-up locations for meals from 10:30 a.m.-Noon, Monday-FridayPlease visit this link for more information about the food services option.

    • Childcare:

    Part of Governor Inslee’s order included schools providing childcare for first responders and healthcare worker’s children.  We are awaiting guidance from the state on what this will look like.  We will update families when more information is available.  If you are a healthcare worker or first responder with school-aged children in Selah, please follow this link to provide us additional information about this opportunity.

    • Academics:

    Our building and district administrators are currently working on options for resources for students, which will be available on Monday, March 23.  At this time, our plan is to make this work optional and it will not be graded.  This decision is based on an inequitable access of wireless connectivity and devices for all students.  We will also be providing support to our 12th-grade students to ensure they complete graduation requirements.  Currently we are awaiting guidance on high school graduation requirements.  Please do not contact your child’s teacher during this time for school work as they will not have the tools or resources to be able to provide individualized learning for each student.  There will be more information available about these resources on March 23, and a plan for potential communication options with teachers.

    • Cleaning and Sanitization:

    Custodial and maintenance staffs are preparing to deep clean and sanitize all District facilities.

    During these unsettling times, the District is committed to providing on-going communication to families.  Please understand that in our work, as questions accumulate, answers are not always immediate.  Sometimes the process can seem delayed in order to provide accurate information.  However, the District remains committed to disseminate news as it becomes available by the use of its usual communication channels.  Also, our COVID-19 website at https://www.selahschools.org/domain/619 will remain active.  Please regularly check this site for the most current information.  In this time of uncertainty, we must trust the communication process.  It is the best scenario for everyone to work together to ensure the lines of accurate communication remain open.

    Additionally, I continue to urge families to follow the guidance from the medical and health communities and take the precautions in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.  If you are close to someone in one of the defined vulnerable categories, please ensure their wellness. With concentrated vigilance, the progression of the virus will slow.

    In closing, I know we are embarking on a part of the school year in which we did not envision.  However, it is in our commitment to kids and their well-being and the pledge to work together, that will get us through this extraordinary beginning to 2020.  This community is Selah strong, and in times of uncertainty has always displayed the courage to support each other.  Let us keep that pledge as we move forward.

    Respectfully,

    Shane Backlund

    Selah School District Superintendent


    March 13, 2020 5:00 PM 

    Dear Selah School District Learning Community, 

    The past couple of weeks have been stressful for many in our community, as we have faced an unprecedented public health crisis with the spread of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. I am grateful to our dedicated staff and supportive families for navigating this situation with our school district. 

    We have kept our schools open as long as possible as recommended by state and local public health authorities and followed their guidance in our approach to responding to the national health crisis. However, Governor Jay Inslee has now ordered the closure of all Washington State Schools. 

    Beginning Tuesday, March 17, all schools in the Selah School District will be closed. At this time, the closure will extend through at least Friday, April 24. During this time, all district facilities will be closed to students, families and the community. This includes the cancellation of all District activities, sporting practices and events. 

    I understand that this closure will create challenges for many families as our schools play an important role, not only in the quality education of our students, but also by providing supports, services, socialization and consistency. Our goal is to continue supporting our families during this time, to the best of our ability, and I appreciate your patience as we work together to keep our students, staff, and patrons healthy and safe. 

    In this challenging time, I am proud of the actions I have already witnessed by our District staff, families, and community. While our classrooms are empty, our work on behalf of students continues. With this, we are working to reduce the impact to students and families as much as possible and the following are some of our preparations: 

    Food Services: 

    • Our Nutrition Services Team is developing a plan to continue offering food options for students who rely on school meals as part of their nutritional needs. We will have information available about our plan early next week. 

    Childcare: 

    • We are working on the logistics of childcare offerings for those parents who work in health care and emergency services. Again, information will be available next week. 

    Academics: 

    • We are creating plans for potential online learning opportunities and additional supports for our most vulnerable students. We will also be providing support to our 12th-grade students to ensure they complete graduation requirements. 

    As we implement these plans, usual communication channels will be used to communicate details about these services. Also, our specific COVID-19 website at https://www.selahschools.org/domain/619 will remain active. Please regularly check this site for the most current information. This closure will affect every aspect of our District and community. However, the community of Selah always rises to support each other. Further, while schools are closed to students, district business operations will continue. If families need assistance, they can reach the District Office by phone or email. Please do not hesitate to contact us, as we are here to help during these extraordinary times. 

    Additionally, I strongly urge families to follow the ongoing guidance from the medical and health communities by practicing social distancing and taking other precautions in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Also, during the closure, maintenance and custodial staff will be working to clean and sanitize all District facilities. 

    In closing, I want to thank Selah School District families, staff, and patrons for their continued partnership and support as we work to navigate these current times. We will get through this. The strength of the Selah community has always been supporting its students and schools as we have come to know this as the Viking Way

    Respectfully, 

    Shane Backlund 

    Selah School District Superintendent


    3-12-20

    Selah School District Staff, Parents, and Community:

    Yesterday’s press conference from Governor Jay Inslee has led to an additional number of school districts and higher institutions that have closed in Washington State due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus.  As this situation continues to alter lives, additional proactive measures will need to be taken to prevent the spread as much as possible.

    At this time, after careful consideration and counsel, we will take the following proactive measures to protect students, employees, and the community effective today, March 12:

    • Suspend weekend and after-hours indoor facility use for large group events, activities, sporting events and tournaments.
    • Limit out-of-county travel for non-essential events and take each additional scheduled trip on a case-by-case basis.  Determining factors will include importance of the location of the activity, potential exposure, preparedness of the facility where the event is scheduled and any other factor not yet determined.
    • Limit non-essential large gatherings in our own district among staff, students and parents.  This could include family nights, contests, dances, etc.

    I have been in continuous contact with nearby school district superintendents, several who are putting similar measures in place.  The Yakima County Health Department is also in support of these measures. Please realize that additional decisions will occur as the COVID-19 situation evolves, and that additional actions could happen at any time. I appreciate your flexibility, patience, and understanding. We care deeply about all students, families, and staff and will continue to share information and decisions as promptly as possible.

    Shane Backlund, Superintendent

    Selah School District

     


     

    3/11/20

    Following Governor Jay Inslee's press conference earlier this morning, and the World Health Organization officially designating the COVID-19 novel coronavirus as a pandemic, the Selah School District is in discussions about potential impacts to our school system. We will provide further guidance by noon on Thursday, March 12.


    3/10/20 

    Parents, Staff and Community-

    With the continued media attention and rise in the number of cases of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, the Selah School District has launched an informational website that will contain resources about the situation.  There are links that contain updates from the Centers for Disease Control, the Washington State Department of Health and the Yakima Health District. Information is also available about how you can be prepared, as well as educational resources.

    As a district, we are working daily with the Yakima Health District to stay current with the latest developments and will be following instructions about preventing the spread of the virus. In addition, our custodial team is being extra vigilant in its cleaning procedures of our schools during this time.  

    The health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority.  As a district, we are taking this situation seriously and will stay on top of any developments that require us to act. These are very fluid circumstances that change daily.  Decisions on events, field trips, visitors from outside of the Valley, professional development for staff and any closures to schools will be made in accordance with recommendations and with safety in mind. 

    If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to a building principal or the District Office.