OLYMPIA — Governor Jay Inslee announced on Sunday morning that effective midnight on Monday, Nov. 16, additional restrictions will be put into place until Dec. 14, with modified restriction for restaurants to come into effect on Wednesday, Nov. 18 to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
These additional safety measures were announced in response to dramatic increases in COVID-19 activity as measured in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. This statewide increase follows similar trends across the country.
“The best thing we can do to support our businesses and community members is to stop all unnecessary interactions with individuals outside of your household and come together, like we have before, to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community.” said Andre Fresco, Executive Director of Yakima Health District.
Reinstated restrictions include:
Effective midnight on Tuesday, Nov. 17, restaurants and bars are closed for indoor service. Outdoor dining and to-go service is permitted.
Retail stores, grocery stores, and malls must limit occupancy to 25% and must close food court seating.
Indoor gatherings, outside one’s household, are prohibited and outdoor social gatherings should be limited to no more than five people.
Offices are required to mandate employees work from home if possible and must limit occupancy to 25% if they remain open. They must be closed to the public.
Personal services, such as barber shops and salons, are limited to 25% capacity.
Religious services can continue, but must limit indoor attendance to 25% of capacity, or 200 people.
Wedding and funeral ceremonies will be limited to 30 people with no receptions.
Real estate open houses are prohibited.
Childcare and K-12 education restrictions remain unchanged.
In response to the Governor’s Office announcement, Yakima Health District (YHD) met with superintendents to discuss steps forward – the Washington State Department of Health encouraged local health jurisdictions and schools to continue with re-opening schools in the hybrid learning model.
Yakima County has concluded kindergarten through eighth grade will continue to open as planned, however, YHD recommends a pause on high school’s reopening as high school students make up the largest single age group of cases among school aged individuals.
SUNNYSIDE SCHOOL DISTRICT
Sunnyside School District Superintendent Kevin McKay confirmed on Monday, Nov. 16, Sierra Vista and Harrison Middle Schools will transition into hybrid next Monday, Nov. 20.
“The decisions in regards to the high school will be after the board has time to meet and discuss,” McKay added.
The next board meeting as of press time is still set for Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m.
GRANDVIEW SCHOOL DISTRICT
Grandview School District’s Communication Manager Elena Olmstead confirmed that Grandview Middle School commenced with their return to a hybrid model.
Olmstead also communicated, “It is likely that the planned full reopening of Grandview High School set for Dec. 7 will be pushed back.” She added a letter communicating the changes to families was also sent out on Monday, Nov. 16.
GRANGER SCHOOL DISTRICT
Superintendent Brian Hart confirmed Granger Middle School will begin in person instruction on Nov. 30.
“The plan for Granger High School has been to start in person instruction on Jan. 4,” Hart added, explaining, “If allowed by the Yakima Health District, we will start in person instruction at GHS on Jan. 4.”
MABTON SCHOOL DISTRICT
Mabton School District confirmed the MEA ratified a Memorandum of Understanding with the district on the afternoon of Nov. 16 outlining a January reopening for all students which the Mabton School Board approved at their scheduled meeting of the same day.
Superintendent Dr. Joseph Castilleja confirmed “We are also ready to adjust as guidance from health officials evolves, which is totally possible between now and January.”
Superintendent Brad Van Beek stated the Governor’s restrictions will be discussed at their school board meeting tonight as the Sunnyside Christian Schools have been operating in an in person model since early September.
ZILLAH SCHOOL DISTRICT
Zillah School District has communicated that per the recommendation of YHD, they will be delaying high school return to hybrid until Dec. 14.
Assistant Superintendent Justin Irion added, “As further information is released, we will adjust.”
Prosser and Toppenish School Districts were unable to respond on their plans as of press time, Nov. 16.