Re-Opening Plan Updates to Families
Superintendent Garza Celebrates 2020-'21 School Year, Looks Forward to Next Year (6/4/21)
Dear Wapato Public Schools Families,
There are just a couple weeks left in the 2020-2021 school year and what an unprecedented year it has been. To sum it up it has been a year filled with challenges, choices and change. However, with your support, we have been able to successfully navigate and continue to navigate the uncertainty of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
As a result of the partnership with our families, students and community the accomplishments of this school year have been many, not the least of which has been the safe, progressive reopening of our schools. If you remember when school started in September the District was using a fully remote, distance learning model for all students. Within the first couple weeks we began providing in-person instruction to small groups. Early November marked the safe, progressive return of larger groups of elementary students to a hybrid learning model and by February all preschool through 12th grade students had access to a hybrid model of in-person instruction. The development and successful implementation of the District’s progressive reopening plan could not have happened without your support and for that I can’t thank you enough.
Next week we get to celebrate another accomplishment when we graduate more than 180 members of the Class of 2021 between Wapato and PACE high schools. I want to thank the families of our graduating seniors for supporting them since the start of their K-12 educational journey and especially the past year. You have much to be proud of and we look forward to joining you in recognizing all of our graduates.
As we all get ready to bring the 2020-2021 school year to an end I’m sure some of you are questioning what the 2021-2022 school year will look like as it relates to the ongoing pandemic. I can tell you it’s the District’s intent to return to full, in-person learning for all students (preschool-12th grade). Although the state is not requiring school districts to offer a distance learning option next year, we are in the process of determining the benefits and feasibility of providing our families that option. Once a final decision has been made we will share that with you in advance of the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
Speaking of the start of next school year I want to make sure you are aware that school will start prior to the Labor Day Holiday weekend. For a number of years the first day of school has always been the Tuesday after Labor Day, this coming year the first day of school is September 2nd which is the Thursday before the Labor Day weekend.
In closing, I encourage to stay engaged with your student’s school and teacher right through the end of the school year. Every School Day Counts!
Sincerely,Kelly Garza, Superintendent
Grades Kinder-5th Transitioning to 5-Days Per-Week In-Person Instruction
Dear Wapato School District Families,
I am very excited to announce the next step in our progressive journey to safely re-open our schools. Starting Monday, May 3rd, the District will begin serving Kindergarten through 5th Grade students in-person, 5-days a week. As stated, this transition only includes students in grades Kindergarten through 5th. The District’s WELCOME Preschool, Wapato Middle School, Wapato and PACE High Schools will continue to operate using their current hybrid models.
Families of K-5 students who are currently using the fully remote, Distance Learning Model can continue to use that model through the remainder of the year. However, if you would like to move your student from the fully remote, Distance Learning Model to the 5-day a week in-person model, you will have until the end of the day on Tuesday, April 27th to notify your student’s school of your intentions. You can expect to hear more from your student’s school in the coming days about the specifics of making this move to five days of in-person learning each week.
This transition will not impact the After School Program/Academy at the elementary schools. If your elementary school student is taking advantage of the after school program they will continue to attend on the same days of the week they are currently attending.
Please be aware that a return to a 5-day a week schedule at the elementary schools also includes a return to the 1-hour early release of students each Wednesday. The Wednesday early release allows time for teachers and staff to participate in weekly professional development.
I cannot tell you how thrilled I am about this return to some level of normalcy. It is made possible by the recently updated classroom physical distancing guidance from federal, state and local health agencies. You may remember prior to Spring Break I shared with you the physical distancing for students in the classroom had been reduced from six to three feet.
In closing it is important to note, there have been no other changes in our safety protocols. Students, families and staff still need to comply with our 5-layers of safety which include staying home when sick, regular hand washing, wearing face coverings, physical distancing and regular cleaning of buildings/surfaces. These have proven to keep students and staff safe and allow for our continued, progressive re-opening.
Sincerely,Kelly Garza, Superintendent
Superintendent Update: Revised Physical Distancing Guidance for Schools (3/26/21)
Dear Wapato Public Schools Families,
It is likely many of you have heard about the State of Washington’s support of the updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines regarding the reduction of physical distancing requirements for students in the classroom. Governor Jay Inslee announced yesterday afternoon schools in the state can immediately reduce the classroom distancing from six to three feet.
Throughout the course of this pandemic Wapato Public Schools have used federal, state and local health agency guidance to assist our efforts of keeping students and staff as safe as possible. I want our families to know the District will continue that practice as we review the details of this updated physical distancing guidance.
At this time the District has not determined when it might implement this change. As I mentioned above we are reviewing the guidance and in the process of determining what it would take to move in that direction. Unfortunately there is a lot more involved than simply moving desks closer together in each of our classrooms. Once we have developed a plan around this updated guidance we will be sharing it with you well in advance of making any changes.
In the meantime, I want to remind you about the Wapato Middle School’s Cultural Unity Fair drive-thru dinner event taking place next Thursday, April 1st, from 4:30-7:00pm. If you plan on attending you are encouraged to pre-purchase your tickets. They are available in the Middle School Office weekdays from 7:00am-3:00pm. I also want to remind you that next Friday, April 2nd is a half-day early dismissal for all students due to Spring Break which takes place the week of April 5-9.
In closing I want to say it’s an honor to serve as your Superintendent of schools. I have so appreciated your support, patience and understanding as we continue to partner in navigating this ongoing pandemic.
Sincerely,Kelly Garza, Superintendent
High Schools Get Go Ahead to Begin In-Person Instruction (2-2-21)
Dear Wapato School District Families,
I am very excited to share with you that earlier today the Yakima Health District provided guidance to school districts in the county allowing for the return of high school students to in-person instruction. The guidance gives districts the green light to begin returning 9th-12th grade students as early as Tuesday, February 16th.
We are in the process of reviewing the guidance and at this time we anticipate both Wapato and PACE High Schools will be able to begin their Hybrid Model of instruction sometime during the week of February 16th. Over the next couple of weeks our high school families will hear from their student’s school about the specific details and procedures regarding the transition to the Hybrid Model.
I want to thank the staff at Wapato and PACE High Schools for their work over the past several weeks in developing safe return plans for their buildings in anticipation of today’s decision by the Health District. These plans align with Yakima Health District guidelines and allow us to return our high school students to the classroom quickly and safely.
In closing, I want to remind families that there will be several layers of Yakima Health District required safety protocols in place in the high schools when students return. We ask our families to work with their children so they understand the importance of complying with these safety practices.
Thank you for your cooperation. We can hardly wait to see our high school students back in the classrooms.
SincerelyKelly Garza, Superintendent
Update: Return of High School Students to In-Person Instruction (1/29/21)
Wapato School District Families,
As you may remember me sharing in past updates, our district, along with leaders from other school districts in the region have been communicating weekly with the Yakima Health District and strongly advocating for the reopening of Wapato and PACE High Schools to in person learning.
Earlier this week, the Yakima Health District Board gave their approval for Yakima Health District leaders to work directly with school districts in the county to resume the reopening of high schools as soon as possible. At this point we do not have the details of what this will look like. However, our district will be meeting with Yakima Health District officials early next week to gain more insight about a proposed timeline and guidelines that we will have to work within to reopen Wapato and PACE High Schools.
With your help we have demonstrated we have been able to safely return preschool through 8th grade students to the classroom by following our 5-levels of safety protocol. I am hopeful the Health District will take note of that success and make a recommendation that allows our high school students to return to sooner than later.
As soon as we have additional information about the return of high school students to in person learning we will communicate with all of our stakeholders.
Thank you again for your support and understanding.Kelly Garza, Superintendent
Hybrid Model Schedule for Week of January 18th
January 14th Virtual Town Hall: Update on Return to Hybrid Model In-Person Instruction
Superintendent Kelly Garza will be hosting a virtual Town Hall meeting for families on Thursday evening, January 14th. The purpose of the meeting is to update families about Tuesday's return of Preschool-8th Grade students to the District’s Hybrid Model of in-person instruction. Superintendent Garza will also provide the status of eventually adding high school students to the Hybrid Learning Model.
The virtual Town Hall will take place from 5:00-5:45 p.m. It will be conducted in English and Spanish. Those participating will be able to select their language of choice when accessing the meeting Thursday evening using the Zoom link information seen below.
Please click the link below to join the webinar:
Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +19712471195,,88636030446# or +16027530140,,88636030446#
Webinar ID: 886 3603 0446
If you do not have video access you can join by phone by dialing 1-669-900-6833 and entering the webinar ID# listed above.
Distance Learning to Continue Following Winter Break
As we look forward to enjoying the upcoming Winter Break let’s all remember to do what we can to keep ourselves and families safe in the midst of this ongoing pandemic.
Public health agencies are concerned and warning about a spike in COVID activity that may result from social gatherings during the holiday season. Due to that concern and how that might impact staffing district-wide, Superintendent Garza has decided to postpone the return of Preschool thru 8th Grade students to Hybrid in-person learning until at least Tuesday, January 19th. When school resumes on January 4th the District will continue using its Distance Learning model for all students. This decision is supported by the School Board and the Yakima Health District and provides an additional layer of safety for our students, their families, the community and staff. Remaining in a Distance Learning model from January 4 thru January 15 will allow the District time to monitor any likely surge of COVID cases prior to students returning to the classroom. We appreciate the understanding and patience of our families, community and staff as we make these decisions with an abundance of safety in mind.In closing, wishing you all a safe and enjoyable holiday season.
Superintendent Garza Safe Return Plan Update (11/17/20)
Wapato Public Schools Families:
On Sunday Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced renewed restrictions in response to an uptick in coronavirus activity across the state. During his comments he made it clear the additional safety measures, which will be in place through at least December 14, will not impact K-12 education. However, the Governor and State Department of Health encouraged school districts to continue to work with their local health jurisdictions on comprehensive protocols to optimize health and safety in the school environment.
Shortly after the Governor’s comments, school district superintendents in Yakima County met with Yakima Health District leaders to discuss the need for any changes to the progressive school reopening plan released by the Health District in late September. During the meeting the Health District recommended that school districts in the county continue to follow their Safe Return plans as they relate to grades K-8 but should put a hold on plans to return grades 9-12 (high school) until further notice. According to the Health District high school aged students have made up the largest single age group of COVID cases among school aged individuals over the past two months. Since the timeline in our Safe Return Plan does not have our high school students returning until late January the Health District’s recommendation does not have a significant impact on our plan at this time.
As of today (11/17/20) Wapato Public Schools will continue to follow its Safe Return Plan timeline for middle school students. That plan calls for hybrid Group-A 6th Grade students to return next Monday, November 23, and Group-B 6th Grade students on Tuesday the 24th. The rest of the Middle School students choosing the hybrid in person model will return the week of November 30th.
Although community transmission rates are up, Yakima Health District data indicates schools remain a safe place for students and staff. According to the Yakima Health District, as of last Friday (11/13/20), there have been sixty-one (61) total cases for students and staff in all of Yakima County since in-person instruction began. Of the sixty-one (61) cases, it is believed that only two (2) acquired COVID 19 while at the school.
We are all in this together and with your help we will get through it. That being said, I want to remind families to do daily health screenings of their students before sending them to school. If your student is displaying any symptoms that could be associated with COVID or has been in close contact with someone with COVID please keep them home. By following these simple public health guidelines you will be doing your part to help maintain a safe and healthy school environment.
I appreciate your continued support and understanding as we navigate the challenges presented by this COVID-19 pandemic. I wish you a safe and happy holiday season. I encourage you to wear your mask, socially distance and wash your hands.
Sincerely,Kelly Garza, Superintendent.
School Board Approves Safe Return to School Plan
October 20, 2020
Dear Wapato Public Schools Families,
I hope you are all doing well and are staying safe as we continue to navigate the challenges of this ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
I have some exciting news to share with you about our continued planning to return students to the classroom for in person instruction. Last night the Wapato School Board of Directors approved the District’s recommended Safe Return to School Plan.
The plan outlines the District's framework for the safe, staggered, progressive return of students to the classroom starting November 2, 2020 with Preschool and Kindergarten students. It is a comprehensive document. This Safe Return Plan includes the timeline for the return of each grade level, information about the choice of hybrid and continued distance learning models, health and safety protocols, and some general information about transportation, child nutrition, extracurricular activities, physical education, band and music. Please know that each school will communicate specific details and procedures regarding the afore-mentioned areas to each of their parents, students and staff. You can expect your student's school to communicate that information to you over the coming days and weeks.
Rest assured there will be several layers of Yakima Health District required safety protocols in place when students return. We ask our families to work with their children so they understand the importance of complying with these safety practices.
You can view the complete plan by clicking here. I will also be going through the details of the plan at the virtual Town Hall scheduled for tomorrow evening, Wednesday, October 21st. There will be an English language version from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and Spanish language from 6:30-7:30 p.m. A representative from the Yakima Health District will also be joining us for that meeting to address questions as they relate to Health District requirements. Please find the meeting access information below.
We are excited to welcome students back to the classroom and we appreciate the support of families to make this happen.
Kelly Garza, Superintendent
October 21st Virtual Town Hall: Update Regarding Plans to Return to In Person Instruction
Middle & High School Reopening Survey
Dear Wapato Public Schools Families,
I want to start by thanking you for helping get the 2020-2021 school year off to a smooth start despite our continued challenges caused by the ongoing pandemic. Your efforts to engage with your students’ teachers during conferences the first week of school allowed for some critical conversations about expectations and engagement during this time of distance learning. I have had the opportunity in the last few weeks to observe online learning first hand by dropping in on classroom Zoom sessions. I have observed some amazing teaching and learning at all grade levels despite the challenges of Remote/Distance learning. Our educators have clearly applied new learnings from professional development opportunities in the delivery of online teaching. It is awesome to see educators, students, and parents working collaboratively over the last few weeks. I encourage you to maintain that same level of involvement throughout your student’s K-12 education.
That being said I am very excited to share that school districts in Yakima County received some exciting and long awaited news from the Yakima Health District. The Health District announced that schools could start bringing students back for in-person instruction as early as October 12th. The guidance calls for a staggered start. Elementary students will be the first to return with middle school and high school students being brought back gradually over time. Noted below is Yakima County Health’s guidelines for Grade Band return to face to face instruction and a summarized list of conditions that must be followed:
Level Return Date
PK – 5th Grade October 12th
6th – 8th Grade November 2nd
9th – 12th Grade November 23rd
- Physical Distancing (6ft = 36 sq ft per person)
- Three (3) week intervals between grade band start dates
- Remote Learning must still be an option
- Daily Attestations (to include temperature checks)
Please know that Wapato Public Schools will not start face to face instruction in a hybrid model on October 12th as the Health District's guidelines allow. We will gather input from various stakeholders before a final progressive return plan is presented to the School Board and the Yakima Health District for approval. We had the opportunity to hold a Virtual Town Hall meeting this past Thursday evening from 5:30 – 6:30 in English and from 6:30 to 7:30 in Spanish. These meetings were well attended and provided helpful input.
We have much work to do before any students are able to return for in person instruction. For example, designing a weekly schedule that allows us to comply with strict social distancing requirements in the classroom. Since we do not have enough physical classroom space to accommodate all students at the same time and our obligation to comply with distancing requirements, there will be a need for a hybrid model. Under a hybrid model we would develop two groups of students. Each group would get two days of in person instruction each week and would engage in distance learning the rest of the week. It would be something similar to what we are already using to serve small groups of high needs students who began receiving some in person instruction starting the week of September 14th. In compliance with Health District guidance we will continue to increase the number of high needs students for small group in person instruction between now and the start of our Hybrid Model.
We also understand that some families may not be comfortable sending their students back into the classroom at all, so we will be finalizing plans to offer 100% distance learning for those students. As I said, there is much work to be done and we will share the plan with families as soon as the details have been worked out.
In the meantime we will continue to do our best using the distance learning model. In order for students to succeed it is critical they have reliable internet access. That is why we are continuing our work to identify families who do not have internet access in the home. Once identified the District is checking out internet “hot-spot” devices to those families. The devices allow for internet connectivity which is essential for students during this time of distance learning. If you do not have internet access in your home and have not checked out a “hot-spot” device please contact your student’s school. Only one device is needed per family.
The District’s free kids’ meals program has been up and running since the first day of school, on September 8th. It is available to all kids ages 1-18 years of age. There are two distribution days each week. On Mondays kids receive a two day supply of grab-and-go meals and on Wednesday they receive a three day supply. The distributions take place from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. each of those days in the Camas/Satus Elementary Schools bus loop, Adams/Simcoe Elementary Schools bus loop and the west side of Wapato High School, which is the side nearest the tennis court. We encourage all families to take advantage of this service.
Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. are also the days each of the schools are distributing learning resources. These distributions are designed to hand-out and collect student work from those families that do not have internet access. If you do have internet access there is no need to pick-up the materials being made available on Wednesdays, unless otherwise instructed by your student’s school. The same learning materials can be accessed online.
In closing, I strongly encourage you to maintain a high degree of engagement with your student’s school throughout the school year. If you have questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact your student’s teacher. The District has worked to make communication with our teachers as easy and efficient as possible by providing families the opportunity to use the Remind Classroom Communications tool. If you are not familiar with Remind and would like to learn more about it, please call your student’s school.
Stay safe. Wear your mask and wash your hands frequently.
Kelly Garza, Superintendent
K-5 Family Reopening Survey
Virtual Town Hall Meetings for Families Regarding the Return to In Person Instruction
Learning Resources Distribution Taking Place Each Wednesday 9:30 a.m-12:30 p.m.
Now that the 2020-2021 school year is underway it is important families know that your students’ schools will be distributing learning resources each Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. while the District is using a Distance Learning model. The first distribution takes place this Wednesday, September 16th. Please reference the information below for the materials being made available by each of the schools.
Camas Elementary School
Camas Elementary will be providing learning resources by paper packets and/or a thumb drive to students that do NOT have access to the internet. If this is the case, we urge you to pick up paper packets and/or thumb drives for your students which will be available every Wednesday behind our schools in the bus loop area, which can be accessed from 9th Avenue. Our first packet/thumb drive distribution will start Wednesday, September 16th. Packet/ thumb drive pick-up will be from 9:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. You may drop by during these hours to get packets/thumb drives for your students in grades preK-2. Every Wednesday thereafter, you can pick up a new packet during these same hours. Drop off boxes for each teacher will also be available to drop off finished work. Remember, if you can access the materials online, you do NOT need to pick up a packet/thumb drive. The packets/thumb drives are the same as the online resources on the Google Classrooms.
Satus Elementary School
Satus Elementary will be providing learning resources using a flash drive for those students unable to connect to a Wi-Fi network. This year we will not be providing paper packets but will provide your students with a much better learning opportunity by using videos as teachers instruct your students online and with downloaded content on a flash drive if you do not have internet services. Should you NOT have access to the internet, we urge you to pick up flash drives for your students which will be available every Wednesday behind our schools in the bus pick-up area, which can be accessed from 9th Avenue. Our first distribution will be on Wednesday, September 16, from 9:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. behind the school in our bus loop. You may drop by during these hours to get your child’s flash drive if you do not have internet access. Every Wednesday thereafter, you can pick up a new flash drive and bring back the old one during these same hours. In this way we will always have a flash drive ready for you when you come to the distribution. Remember, if you can access the materials online you do NOT need to pick up a flash drive and do not need to come to the school. The material downloaded onto the flash drive will be the same as the online resources on the website.
Simcoe Elementary School
- Time: 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
- Items: Student Learning Materials and jump drives
- Location: Simcoe parent drop-off loop (Front of school)
Adams Elementary School
- Time 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
- Items: Paper packets and jump drives
- Location: In the Adams parent drop-off loop (Front of school)
Wapato Middle School
- Time 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
- Items: Student Learning Materials and jump drives, WMS will also distribute agile mind math books to some students
- Location: Parent drop-off loop
Wapato High School
- When: Wednesday, September 16, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
- Location: Parent drop-off loop (Front of the School)
- Algebra I Workbook
- Algebra II Workbook
- Intensified Algebra Workbook
- Geometry Workbook
- Chemistry text book
- A Novel for Calvert’s Science Fiction Class
- Art supplies for Mr. Gillaspie’s class
- 2019-2020 Yearbooks
PACE High School
- Time: 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
- Items: Downloading assignments from Google Classroom onto flash drives.
Wapato Public Schools is pleased to announce a change in its meals service for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. The District just received word from the State that it will be able to provide grab-and-go meals to all kids ages 1-18 years of age, not just those students enrolled in school. This is the only change in the meals distribution program that starts the first day of school, Tuesday, September 8th. The distribution days, times and locations outlined in a letter recently sent to all families will remain the same.
As the District previously communicated to families, the distribution sites will be Simcoe/Adams bus loop, Camas/Satus bus loop and the west side of Wapato High School, (nearest the tennis courts). The first day of distribution will be Tuesday, September 8th from 9:30am-12:30pm. Kids will receive four days worth of breakfasts and lunches. Starting the week of September 14th the District will begin distributing meals two days a week (Mondays & Wednesdays) from 9:30am-12:30pm each day. Kids will receive two days worth of meals on Monday and three days worth of meals on Wednesday. Since the District will now be serving all kids 1-18 years of age there will be no requirement, at this time, for families to present their student’s meal card in order to receive a meal.
Meals Service Being Made Available to All Kids (1-18 Years of Age)
Enrollment Form Collection & Learning Materials Distribution Sept. 2-4
- Wednesday, Sept. 2nd for students whose last name starts with A-L (anytime between noon-3pm & 4:30-6:30pm)
- Thursday, Sept. 3rd for students whose last names starts with M-Z (anytime between noon-3pm & 4:30-6:30pm)
- Friday, Sept. 4th any student not able to make it on their assigned day (anytime between noon-3pm)
School Board Approves Superintendent Recommendation of Distance Learning Start to 2020-2021 School Year
Spanish Language Virtual Town Hall Meeting Regarding Reopening of Schools
Wapato Schools Re-Opening Survey for Families
School Re-Opening Update Letter to Families (7-17-20)
School Re-Opening Update Letter to Families (7/2/20)