Yelm in-school suspension supervisor Brenda Silvius hands out a Chromebook on last April at Yelm High School.

After getting the thumbs up from Thurston County’s health officer to slowly begin resuming in-person classes, Yelm and Rainier school districts have announced the implementation of hybrid learning models, as well as plans to have elementary school students begin attending classes in October.

The news from both school districts came a day after Health Officer Dr. Dimyana Abdelmalek wrote in a Wednesday letter to school superintendents that they could begin a “slow, careful, phased approach” to resume in-person instruction, first by prioritizing high-needs students.

Yelm Community Schools plans on beginning the transition with students in kindergarten, first grade and second grade, then in October transitioning for third, fourth and fifth grade students.

“As we shared in August, the feedback from families supported two consecutive days of in-person instruction and three days at home accessing remote learning,” the district wrote in an email update late Wednesday. “We also understand some families will choose to stay with 100 percent online learning at home, and they will have that option.”

The district is also hosting a survey for K-5 grade families, due Monday, Sept. 28. It can be found online here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YCSK-5ShifttoHybrid.

With a return to partial in-person instruction, the district plans on implementing a hybrid model it developed prior to the July 30 recommendation from Abdelmalek to keep buildings closed. Students in this model are divided up into two groups that alternate in-person classes two days a week and online three days a week, with Wednesday being a completely online day for students.

The students that go back to school in person will be expected to follow a number of safety protocols. Those include having the families attest to the wellness of their children, maintain a 6-foot social distance in classrooms, wear face coverings throughout the school day and on buses with planned breaks, and other adjustments, according to the district’s email.

Both districts say breakfasts and lunches will be provided free of charge through at least Dec. 31.

Families will still have the option to continue 100-percent online learning. Students will be expected to demonstrate a full day of learning by attending classes through video conferencing.

More details on reopening schools are expected at a Yelm School Board meeting scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 24, at 6 p.m.

The Rainier School District plans on returning all its students to a hybrid model throughout October. The learning model will be similar in concept to Yelm’s, and students will be split up into two groups that alternate days of in-person instruction.

According to an email sent out by the district, K-second grade students will return to class Oct. 6 and 7, third-fifth graders and sixth-ninth grade students will return Oct. 20 and 21, and seventh-12th graders will return Oct. 22 and 23. The day a student returns depends on which of the two groups they are put into.

The instruction will largely be two days in person and three days at home. This schedule was established in order to keep students at least 6 feet apart while on campus.

“Please be aware we are requiring all students to wear a face covering, all day. The face covering requirement is a state mandate that we will adhere to. Our district will be following all safety and health guidelines from the Department of Health,” the district wrote.

It’s expected students will be on campus for in-person instruction between 8:25 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Families at Rainier schools will also have the opportunity to continue with 100 percent online only learning, the district says.

For more information on Abdelmalek’s letter, visit our prior story published on Sept. 23: http://www.yelmonline.com/community/article_2f844328-fdce-11ea-969e-af2793bff0cb.html.

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