Superintendent: Washington schools ‘will open this fall’

Education

Washington schools were closed April 6

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Washington superintendent of public instruction said Thursday his expectation is “that schools will open this fall for in-person instruction” — although, like Oregon, there may be a hybrid of in-person and distance learning in some schools.

Chris Reykdal released the guidelines for the 2020-21 school year that in many ways is similar to the plan Oregon released Wednesday.

During a late Thursday morning press conference, Reykdal said their top priority is not a modified schedule.

“It’s not alternatives to face to face learning but in fact we are telling you today with the partnership with the Department of Health, Governor’s Office, Labor & Industries we built a policy framework that will allow us to open across the state this fall,” he said.

Everyone — students, staff, guests — will be required to wear cloth face coverings.

Educators are aware, he said that “distance learning is fundamentally disporportionate for students who can’t connect.”

Reykdal also said they expect school to be in session for 180 days and he clarified what he meant by getting back to school.

“What I mean about traditional is that we get to go to school, we get to get on buses, we get to engage in our education system as ‘normal,'” he said. “Now there will be physical requirement, screen and hygiene protocol and screening protocol.”

He added, “If you are in a Phase 1 county you are subject to additional regulations” from the local county health department.

Read the Reopening Washington Schools 2020 Planning Guide at the bottom of this article

Various options included

“For some of you, in order to meet DOH requirements, your fall opening may be a hybrid face-toface/online model or any combination of modalities and schedules that meet your local community needs, while also affording all students in your district access to their basic education rights,” Reykdal wrote in the Reopening Washington Schools 2020 Planning Guide.

“In addition, every district will need an alternative plan to return to full continuous remote learning in the event you cannot open or a local health authority or the Governor mandates a short- or longterm closure after you open. We do not expect that, but a resurgence of COVID-19 is possible if we do not collectively do our parts to limit the spread of the virus.”

He said these guidelines were made with the input and guidance from the 120-person workgroup formed to come up with this plan.

“We will do this together, keeping student and staff safety and well-being as our highest priority in the reopening,” he said. “To be very clear, it is my expectation that schools will open this fall for in-person instruction.”

On April 6, Gov. Jay Inslee said students in Washington state would not go back to school this academic year.

Inslee closes Washington schools through end of school year
‘Ready Schools, Safe Learners’: Oregon schools get fall guidelines

At that time, Inslee said he was aware the closure presents challenges for many families and especially those with vulnerable students.

“We know closing schools also presents challenges in the need for equity in education, not only because of internet connectivity issues,” Inslee said.

Oregon’s plan

“Ready Schools, Safe Learners” — that’s the guidance released by the Oregon Department of Education on Wednesday for the upcoming school year.

The guidance provides concrete requirements and recommendations so schools — closed since early April because of the pandemic — can determine what’s best for their schools. The guiding principals of the plan include 4 main goals: ensure safety and wellness, cultivate connection and relationship, center equity and innovation.

The ODE released the guidelines but schools across the state have to come up with a blueprint for reentry. There are certain requirements to determine how students can be taught: on-site, through comprehensive distance learning or both.

The combination option means a group will be taught in person and then there will be a switch.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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