In-person instruction expected to resume in Washington schools this fall

SPOKANE, Wash. — Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal has provided guidance for state public and private K-12 schools as they prepare to reopen in the fall.

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) released documentation detailing the approach for schools across various counties, as those move through phases of reopening, as well.

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

Counties that are in any form of Phase 1 must get approval from their health districts to reopen—some counties may have to consider a hybrid of face-to-face and online instruction.

“Should districts not be able to, or they have to revert to another model – split or rotating models recognizes that in some spaces may be due to distancing, maybe students wouldn’t be in the same place at the same time in our buildings,” Rekydal said.

Reykdal said that every school district must also put together an alternative plan to return to online instruction, as well as setting aside make-up days in the event of short-term closures. He also encouraged schools to incorporate remote learning into their education models, in case they need to close for long stretches of time.

Several more changes would come to schools—everyone on campus will be required to wear face masks, and social distancing is encouraged as much as possible.

Brittany Jones told 4 News Now she was against her children wearing masks at school for seven hours a day.

“Kids need to interact and they need to be with their friends, and when they wear a mask they’re more prone to touching their faces and moving it around, that just defeats the purpose of wearing a mask,” Jones said.

Spokane Public Schools Superintendent Shelley Redinger understands that wearing masks will be challenging for students, but said they will work with the students in doing that.

Each school district is tasked with figuring out whats best for its students. It will not all look the same as one another.

Some schools will be able to accommodate the social distancing rules of keeping desks spaced apart, others will not.

“We need to look at our spaces differently that we have, so every nook and cranny so we can do appropriate social distancing,” Redinger said.

Other suggestions from OSPI include:

  • Canceling field trips, large assemblies
  • Cancel or modify classes where students will be in close contact
  • Suspend or modify activities considered ‘high-risk’ (such as choir)
  • Increase space between desks
  • Stagger classes or reduce the number of students passing through halls
  • Holding lunches outside of the classroom

OSPI requires that school districts adopt their reopening plans through a local school board resolution. The Office also encouraged the loosening of learning standards and attendance.

The office expects school districts to submit their its plan at least two weeks before the start of the school year.

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