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March 26, 2021
Selah School District Family,
With the Governor’s announcement of the reduction from 6 feet to 3 feet for social distancing in classroom settings, the Selah School District is excited to announce that kindergarten through 5th grade students will be resuming a normal, full-time academic schedule following spring break. Current guidelines for 6th through 12th graders show that districts must be in a county with less than 200 cases per 100,000 residents in the previous 14 days, or fully cohort students (which means not switching classes) to be able to move from the 6 to 3 feet distance. At this time there are higher than the 200 cases in Yakima County and the District is unable to do a full cohorted schedule for our secondary students. For this reason we will be maintaining the hybrid instructional model for students at our secondary schools right now, but will continue to monitor guidance and Yakima County metrics.
The move to 3 feet social distancing is for classroom settings only, and activities such as lunch must still adhere to the 6 feet rule due to no masks being worn while eating. Our staff will be working quickly over the next two weeks to have plans in place to meet these guidelines. In addition, this change does not alter any of the other precautions we have in place. Items like mask wearing, frequent hand washing and cleaning of buildings, daily attestations and staying home when sick are still required for the time being.
Here are some other important details about this move:
- Kindergarten through 5th grade students will be going to school Monday through Friday from 8:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. (full day and half day preschool schedule to follow shortly). Secondary AM students will attend classes from 7:45 to 10:15 a.m. while the PM students will attend from 11:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.
- Bus routes for this new schedule will be available on the transportation website by Friday, April 2nd.
- To help with the planning for this change, all PreK through 5th grade students will be participating in a fully asynchronous learning day from home on Friday, April 2nd. This day will be used by staff to ready their classrooms for the full-day model beginning on April 12 (arranging furniture, instructional planning, etc.).
- For those students in virtual academies we will be continuing to offer this option. School staff at the K-5 levels will be reaching out to these families to discuss this option.
We again thank you for your continued flexibility and support during this ever-changing time. This is a positive step in returning our students back to normal schooling. I also want to thank our tremendous staff for their hard work and perseverance throughout these changes. Take care and stay safe.
Shane Backlund, Superintendent
March 16, 2021
Selah School District Family,
As we pass the one year mark in this pandemic, I continue to be humbled and proud of the efforts of our dynamic staff, resilient students and committed families. I don’t think any of us thought that COVID would impact the entire school year, yet here we are with just nearly three months left in 2020-2021.
Our philosophy throughout this crisis has been to work diligently to get as many students back on campus for in-person learning as safely as possible, while following the stringent guidelines set forth by health officials. This has not been the philosophy of all districts in our state or region, and while I believe that having kids in school is essential for academic and emotional well being, this philosophy has put a burden on families due to the logistical and schedule changes throughout the year. We recognize this and offer both our apology and our sincere appreciation for your flexibility.
As many of you are already aware, after spring break we will be making what we believe and hope to be our final change of the year to our school schedule. Many hours were spent looking at options to maximize our space and staff, while following both health guidelines and collective bargaining agreements, to get kids back in classrooms safely. The result of this work are the changes that we will implement after spring break across our school district. On April 12, students in PreK through 3rd grade will begin in-person learning five days per week for five hours per day. We are utilizing all available classroom space and staff to make this happen for our youngest learners. This will cause us to need to shift some students to different teachers to accommodate for smaller class sizes. In addition, students in grades 4 through 12 will begin attending school five days per week for half-day, in-person sessions as opposed to four. This will more than double the time on campus for our early learners and add 20% for our students at grades 4 through 8 (as 9-12 is already going five days per week). Full remote options are still available to families who choose this route.
The change requires us to make alterations to the start times at our schools due to transportation constraints. We have a limited number of buses and drivers, who will all be working extra hours to make this complicated schedule work. We understand that this new schedule isn’t ideal for everyone, and we ask that you reach out to your student’s building administrator if you have a specific hardship that needs to be addressed. We want to help.
In closing, I want to publicly thank our teacher’s union, as well as the other labor groups in our district, for their tireless work and dedication. They have been strong advocates for their members as well as for students and families. Together I believe we have done an admirable job in managing this pandemic. While not perfect, I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish collectively.
As we close out the year please look for information about summer programs aimed at learning recovery, acceleration and social emotional support. We will also be seeking input as we take these efforts into next year and beyond, as we know that we cannot accomplish this in one summer.
Until then, thank you all for your continued support, patience and flexibility. We are almost through this.
Shane Backlund, Superintendent
January 22, 2021
Selah School District Families -
As we approach the midpoint of the current school year, I wanted to provide you with an update on where we stand in our return to learning planning. Most of the updates since the Fall have come from the building level, but I felt it was time to provide a broader picture of where we are currently and what our planning continues to look like.
I think it’s safe to say that all of us were hoping that by this time in the school year we would be in a much better position with COVID and that all of our students would be back in school, with some or all attending full-time. Unfortunately, COVID has continued to disrupt our plans. While staff, students and families alike have tried to make the best of this situation, there is still no replacement for full-time face-to-face school.
As of today, the numbers in our region still prevent us from moving forward with our original plans safely. Social distancing guidelines prevent us from bringing all students back for longer periods of time due to space limitations. High school students continue to mostly be learning online due to the “pause” in high school return plans we learned of in December. We also are, and will continue to, offer remote learning options for families through the end of this year at least. For those that want their students in face-to-face learning, we continue to work extremely hard at trying to maximize the number and time with students on campus while following health guidance. To that end, we have some enhancements to our learning models that I’d like to share with you.
Students in grades PreK - 8 have been in school for multiple months now in a hybrid model where half of the students come onto campus in the morning and half in the afternoon. We have been able to make this work fairly seamlessly, and everyone has adjusted to this model very well. By February 1, all schools in this grade band will be bringing in a selected group of students for a full-day program instead of a half-day. These students were identified as being ones who have had the most struggles with the current model due to a variety of reasons and need the additional support most. In total, this represents about 150 students across our PreK-8 schools. We know that this number is far less than the actual number of students who require additional support, but this does give us a place to start. As these students return to full- day, and as we see how our space and procedures work, we will add more students if possible.
The high school has remained mostly in distance learning, with the exception of a very small number of students, until recently. A week ago, the high school began to bring groups of students on campus one morning per week based on their grade. This is a voluntary opportunity and the regular remote learning model in the afternoon is still in place. While at school on these mornings, students are in small groups with an advisory teacher for the entire time and receive instruction in social emotional learning as well as individualized academic check-ins. The high school staff and administration are looking daily at options for bringing more students on campus for specific academic support from their teachers while following health guidance. In addition, district administrators are working closely with other school districts in the region to offer perspective and ideas to the health department about how to transition our high school kids back on campus safely. We hope that these talks produce good news for our high school students in the near future.
In other COVID related news, we as a District anxiously await news about when the vaccine will be available for school employees. Based on what the State has told us, vaccinations could start happening as early as mid to late February. We’ve also implemented a voluntary weekly COVID testing clinic for staff in the District each week as a preventative measure.
In closing, I want to reiterate our commitment to getting students back to school safely as soon as we possibly can and in an equitable way. We are over 10 months into this pandemic in our schools, and we all feel the urgency of the situation. I continue to be humbled and appreciative of our staff, students and families for their resilience and flexibility over the last several months. I’m proud to be a part of this District and community, and I greatly look forward to better days ahead.
September 28, 2020
Selah School District Families -
Selah classrooms will soon be reopening for hybrid student learning following approval by the District's Board of Directors at their September 24 meeting. The decision was made based on updated guidance from the Yakima Health District that was announced publicly in a press release earlier today, please read release here. The approved plan includes a phasing approach starting with the District’s youngest students. The timeline is as follows:
- Start with a half-day A/B model for K-5 students. The District will evaluate the logistics and safety procedures in the first few weeks of students’ return and then potentially extend the day as conditions allow.
- Begin full day/everyday with our preschool students, but not transitional kindergarten. Transitional kindergarten will follow the K-5 model.
- Small groups for students in grades 6-12, who are identified with complex learning needs, could begin. This would include all students at Selah Academy in small groups.
- Begin a hybrid model for students in grades 6-8 at the start of the second quarter. The hybrid model will be determined in the coming weeks to be communicated with families by October 16.
- Begin a hybrid model for students in grades 9-12 at the start of second trimester. The hybrid model will be determined in the coming weeks to be communicated with families by November 13.
Individual buildings will be communicating details, including schedules, safety protocols and A/B cohorts, in the days ahead. The District will also seek family input regarding wishes about remaining in remote learning, as there will still be an option for a full virtual model even when the hybrid plan is put into place.
When hybrid school begins on October 19 for students in grades K-5, meal distribution will change as well. More information about accessing meals will be communicated soon.
Thank you for your support these past months as we have worked together to ensure the safe return of students to the familiarity of our classrooms and schools. We appreciate your partnership and patience! Go Viks!
Shane Backlund, Superintendent
August 28, 2020
Selah School District Families,
The start of the year is just around the corner! In an effort to continually provide families with updates, I wanted to share the following information:
- School Schedules - The school schedules posted last week are our first drafts. They may change slightly as we learn more and adjust before or after the start of school. I wanted to share one clarifying detail regarding live, synchronous lessons. While the amount of time dedicated to this in the schedules may seem daunting for kids, please rest assured that the time will not be spent fully sitting and listening to a teacher talk. Our staff is ready to offer engaging, interactive and collaborative lessons during this time. Most teachers will also be easing into this at the start of the year to help acclimate our students. If you have specific concerns about your child’s schedule then please contact a building administrator.
- Small Group, In-Person Instruction - Until we are able to resume in-person services for all students, we will be working on bringing in small groups of students starting the week of September 28th. These small intervention groups will be selected using a variety of factors including the complexity of the student’s learning needs, accessibility and engagement barriers, and distance from educational equity. Students who are selected for these small groups will be contacted to determine the individual student’s schedule. Intervention groups will not cover a student’s full weekly schedule.
- Learning Model Options, Now What? - Thank you very much for your participation in the learning models option survey. We had nearly 2,700 responses. These responses did not lock families into anything, but it did give us valuable information to be able to plan. Here is what you need to know or do regarding your choice:
- Remote/Distance Learning - If this was your model of choice then there is nothing else you need to do. Information about class placement will be provided by September 4th.
- Selah Virtual Academy/Selah Online - If you selected this option, you should have been contacted by a representative from your child’s school. If you have not, then please call the office of the school and talk to an administrator.
- Selah Homelink - If this was the model selected for your K-8 student, and you had contact with Ryanne Mills, you may do so at 698-8280 or email@example.com, to enroll.
- Homeschool - If you are intending to homeschool your child please contact Tiera Gonzalez at 698-8001 to inquire about forms needed for this option.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we put our programs together to begin the year in remote learning. We truly appreciate our partnership with our families and are here if you have any questions. Take care!
Shane Backlund, Superintendent
August 7, 2020 (En Español)
Selah School District Families,
I know that many of you are feeling anxious about the upcoming school year, worrying about what it will look like and wondering about the options for your students. I understand and appreciate your concerns. As a district, we will have different options and I ask that you please trust us as we make your child’s learning and well-being our top priority. This is new for all of us and we are working around the clock to put quality options in place now that we know we are beginning the year in a remote/distance model. We will have more detailed information available to you on Wednesday, August 12, but until then here is a brief description of what we will have available:
- Remote/Distance Learning - This is a much more enhanced version of what we did in the spring while we were in a “crisis teaching” mode. There will be daily, purposeful learning with instruction led by Selah School District teachers, a predictable schedule, improved communication, graded work and daily attendance. Students will be able to interact with their peers and get regular feedback. In this model, we will be offering some small group, in-person instruction for students with the highest need. More will be communicated on this.
- Fully Online Option - The District will also be offering a fully online model using an online provider and their curriculum. The provider and nature of the online program would vary by school. Students would have access to a Selah School District teacher to provide instructional feedback and support. Parents who want this option would need to commit for the first trimester at Selah High School/Selah Academy and the first semester at all other schools. If you have immediate questions about this option contact our Executive Director for Student Learning, Jennifer Kindle, at 698-8003.
- Homelink - For students in kindergarten through eighth grade the District also has its Homelink model. In this model the parent is the primary teacher with curricular material support and check-ins provided by a Selah School District teacher.
- Homeschool - Parents who wish to fully have their student in this model would need to complete an “Intent to Homeschool” form and unenroll at the Selah School District. The parent is responsible for curriculum, instruction and assessment in this model.
As mentioned, we will be making this information available on our website, with more detail, on Wednesday, August 12. Until then, if you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact the District office or your child’s principal. In addition there will be a live, virtual Q & A about these options at 6:00 PM on Thursday, August 13th. The link for this opportunity will be distributed on Tuesday, August 11th. We know that this is unsettling for parents. Please know that we are here for you and committed to doing our absolute best to support the needs of all of our students. Thank you for your trust and support during this trying time. Take care, and stay safe.
August 5, 2020 (En Español)
Dear Selah School District Families,
While it has been an unusual year, I certainly hope that you have remained safe and enjoyed a warm summer. As a District, we have been working diligently to prepare for our return to school, and all are excited for the potential that exists for us to reunite in person in the coming months. Over 150 people have been taking part in focus groups this summer discussing options for returning in accordance with the guidance that we received from the Yakima County Health Department as well as the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).
During this COVID-19 pandemic, our September 9 “return to learning” will be quite different this year, just like most things these days. Notwithstanding, the health and safety of our students and staff remain our top priorities; however, we are just as committed to providing a quality education. With safety, security, and learning in mind, I’m pleased to share an update on our plans to deliver education this fall.
In consultation and coordination with the health department and other school districts in Yakima Valley, our district, along with others from our region and around the state, will be starting the year in a fully-remote/distance learning model. In this model, all students will learn from home. There remains the possibility for very small groups of students to be able to come into buildings for face-to-face instruction at times. How those students would be identified will be addressed in the weeks ahead. Our plan for now is to keep this schedule in effect for the first trimester of the year, or until approximately December 4, unless health conditions change that allow us to provide more in-person instruction.
This fully-remote/distance learning option will be a significantly enhanced version of the approach that we used in the spring of 2020. We also are offering complete online learning options, which will allow for individual students to move at their own pace. More details from the District, along with information from your child’s school regarding their learning schedule, is forthcoming, so keep a lookout for communication and monitor the “Reopening Schools” link on our website.
We learned from our feedback survey that the fully-remote/distance learning model last spring was not ideal. While nothing can replace in-person instruction, we are thoughtfully committed to developing a high-quality remote learning model that offers robust, supportive, and engaging instruction. I also recognize that each one of you are facing a unique set of your own circumstances that are impacted by this decision. Please know that we will do whatever we can to support our students and families during this time, including resuming meal services and providing technology training. As conditions with the virus progress, we will continue to keep you apprised of any changes or adjustments to the learning and teaching process. Thank you for your patience and unity as we move forward in this unprecedented time. We are here for you!
Shane Backlund, Superintendent
Selah School District
July 16, 2020 (En Español)
Selah School District Learning Community,
As the summer moves on, planning is well underway for the 2020-2021 school year. Nearly 150 people have been participating in focus groups aimed at providing input on reopening Selah schools on September 9. There are focus groups for each school, health & safety protocols, transportation, nutrition, cleaning and disinfecting, Spanish-speaking parents, athletics & activities and working conditions. Group members consist of administrators, school board members, staff, families and students. In addition, information is being used from a reopening survey conducted in June where over 2,200 people participated. The results of this survey can be found here.
The biggest constraint in planning comes from the current social distancing requirements of 6 feet set forth by the Department of Health. This greatly reduces the ability to house students fully in classrooms in most settings. Other requirements include face coverings for everyone in the buildings, increased cleaning measures, improved handwashing and health screening. All of these requirements are being reviewed by the focus groups and will be incorporated into the plans. Also, with Yakima County currently in Phase 1.5, the local Department of Health could also put further measures or restrictions in place in the weeks ahead, including the possibility of limiting face-to-face instruction. The District should have this guidance by August 7, and will update plans accordingly.
The goal of the planning process is to work towards getting back to in-person schooling in a safe manner for students and staff. To accomplish this, the school year will need to begin in a manner in which most will not be familiar. In addition, plans need to include the ability to pivot quickly to a full distance learning model for all students if an outbreak occurs in any of the schools in the District. As of today, the models for next school year will include:
- Split Schedule - Students will be split into two groups. Group A will attend school two designated days of the week, with distance learning occurring the other three from home. Group B students will do distance learning from home while Group A is at school, and attend school two different days of the week. It is a high probability that Wednesday will be a day with no students on campus to allow for a deep disinfecting of the schools, to go along with daily cleaning that will also be done on each campus. Wednesdays would also allow for staff planning, collaboration and training. The District will split the groups based on geographic location, alphabet and/or families so that appropriate child care plans can be made during the distance learning days.
- Full Distance Learning - In this model all students will participate in remote learning from home, similar to what happened the last three months of the 19-20 school year. This model would only be used when schools and/or the District needs to be shut down due to an outbreak of the virus. This will be an improved version of what families experienced in the spring, as the District will be applying lessons learned to ensure a more robust educational experience for students. This option will also be available for families who do not feel comfortable sending their children back to school at all in September.
As the District builds these plans, there is still great effort being made to work towards having as many students as possible attend school in person in September. This includes the possibility of some of our youngest students being able to attend more often than older students due to class size numbers and space availability. More information about the options listed above and the possibility of younger students being on a different schedule will be available with the final plan in mid August.
Other considerations being discussed include additional in-person instruction for students with higher needs as well as working with local daycare providers on options for families in a split schedule model. There is also going to be an option available for families who do not want their children to attend in person at all to begin the year, as indicated earlier in this communication. The outcomes of these considerations will be communicated as part of the overall plan by the middle of August.
While the results of the survey were important for the District to gauge the early opinions of all stakeholders about reopening, more specific information will help fine tune the planning. Families are being asked to complete this additional brief survey to better understand the intentions behind coming back to school in the fall. In short, the District wants to know if families plan on having their children take part in the plans presented as of today. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey.
In closing, the District recognizes that any plan other than a full in-person model will be a challenge for families and will work incredibly hard to do what it can to support everyone as we enter a new normal next school year. Please be on the lookout for additional communication in August and don’t hesitate to reach out to the District Office with any questions. Thank you to all who have and continue to participate in our focus groups as we work as a Viking Community to keep all of us safe and well.