PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Governor Jay Inslee is urging school districts around Washington state to implement online-only learning, especially in areas where COVID-19 cases are high.
Inslee released new recommendations during a press conference on Wednesday, saying districts where there are more than 75 cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period are “strongly urged” to implement distance learning.
The guidance changes for districts where cases are lower. Areas with 26-74 cases per 100,000 residents, over two-week period, are urged to implement distance learning for most middle and high school students, with possible in-person for elementary and special needs students. Extracurricular activities should be canceled for now.
Areas with 25 or fewer cases per 100,000 residents over two-week period should still implement distance learning for middle and high school. In-person for elementary schools is permitted.
Inslee said schools must maintain the state requirements for hygiene, cleaning, social distancing and masks. They must also be ready to monitor and respond to cases with a set plan.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal and state health officer Dr. Kathy Lofy also spoke during the press conference. Reykdal said in-person learning is certainly ideal but simply isn’t safe right now.
“The best model we have built is in-person — that brings community supports in place, teaches kids amazing content that they learn from each other, they get nursing services, mental health support, all kinds of things,” he said. “Our comprehensive in-person schools are really an amazing institution that underwrites our economy and democracy but we can’t get to that right now.”
As of Wednesday morning, Washington state has tallied 1,619 deaths stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the more than one million tested throughout the state, 5.9% of have returned positive.
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