Submitted by Gov. Jay Inslee’s Office
Gov. Jay Inslee announced new recommendations from the Washington State Department of Health for instruction in K-12 education for the upcoming school year. Inslee was joined by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal at a press conference on Aug. 5.
Similar to the state’s county-by-county phased approach to reopening, the plan allows local health departments and school districts to decide if and how they will allow students back in the classroom.
“We know the uncertainty surrounding school reopening is a source of extraordinary anxiety for parents and educators — anxiety not just about whether it’s safe to go back to school in person, but also about the impacts to children if they don’t return to the classroom,” Inslee said.
The plan includes several different considerations for deciding whether or not to return to in-person learning.
The framework looks at individual county data and is broken into three categories of disease transmission level, as measured by the incidence of cases per 100,000 residents over a two week period as high risk, moderate risk and low risk.
The counties considered low risk are encouraged to implement a hybrid model of in-person and distance learning for middle school and high school students, and full-time in-person learning for elementary students.
In order to implement in-person learning, schools must be able to implement state recommendations and state health requirements that have already been issued. This includes requiring masks, protecting those at higher risk of complications, social distancing and environmental cleaning.
“This pandemic creates unprecedented challenges in our efforts to meet our obligations to equity in education, but we are no less committed to seeing all of our students receive it,” Inslee said. “It is the right thing to do and crucial for the success of all our students.”
View the recommendations at https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/DecisionTree-K12schools.pdf.