SPS school reopening plan comes with some changes

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SPOKANE, Wash. — In a meeting on Wednesday night, Spokane Public Schools (SPS) board discussed the reopening plan for the 2021-2022 school year and there are going to be some changes.

For the upcoming school year, most of the policies are what you would expect: everyone has to wear masks regardless of vaccination status, social distancing and other standard COVID-19 protocols.

Masks are mandated by the state and if a school does not follow that, they’ve been told they could lose funding. SPS said 80 percent of their funding comes from the state and federal government. Even with masks, students will at least get to be in class five days a week instead of doing all virtual or hybrid learning this year.

However, when there are no students around, guidelines say vaccinated teachers can take their masks off.

Some changes to the coming year include no cohorts – like A and B groups – nor will there be daily health checks for students and staff before showing up at school. Also, kids will not need to wear a mask while at recess, and teachers can take their masks off when school is out of session.

“We have families that said that they’re not coming if masks are not going to be required and then we’ve had families say they’re not coming if they are,” said SPS superintendent Adam Swinyard. “We’re hearing from, as throughout the pandemic, we’re hearing a significant amount of passion and energy and concern on both sides of the issue.”

Families can still sign up for Spokane Virtual Academy, which is the full online course for the year.

Swinyard thought thought there’d be more kids signing up for that option, expecting more than 500 families, but enrollment is around 300 students.

Guidelines for lunch, performing arts and athletics are still being evaluated.

While schools will promote the three-feet social distancing rule, SPS said it plans to use that rule where it can in some rooms. Three feet social distancing is recommended, but not a requirement because the state doesn’t want any restrictions to prevent students from being in the classroom.

PAST COVERAGE: No cohorts, no health checks; SPS to discuss back to school details Wednesday evening

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