Governor Jay Inslee is loosening school reopening guidelines amid a resurging coronavirus pandemic, and pleading with reluctant teachers to return to the classroom, particularly those tasked with educating the youngest and neediest students.
Inslee and Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal unveiled the state’s latest reopening standards, which urge schools to begin phasing in in-person learning no matter what the community COVID-19 infection rates are, and to resist reverting back to remote learning should transmissions further increase.
They also announced $3 million from set aside funds to be distributed to implement health and safety protocols.
The Department of Health suggests three categories for re-introducing in-person learning:
Over the past two weeks, the Grays Harbor cases have increased by 443, or approximately 590 cases per 100,000, placing us in the “High” category.
In Pacific County, the case count indicates Moderate numbers at approximately 331 cases per 100,000.
In addition to the updated metrics, DOH announced an increased focus on the health and safety measures that are required by law for in-person learning. Some of those measures include:
Each school must have an operational safety committee responsible for a COVID-19 prevention plan.
These plans must include a designated COVID-19 supervisor, training off all staff on COVID-19 prevention, and adequate supply and distribution of Personal Protective Equipment, including respiratory protection.
Testing and contact tracing both need to be in place at the schools.
DOH is also releasing guidance on COVID-19 testing in the K-12 school populations to help local school and health leaders decide on who, how, and when to test/screen K-12 students and staff.