Local schools look at fall reopening, but with new restrictions.

On Thursday, Governor Jay Inslee  issued a proclamation that outlines the state’s plan to possibly re-open schools in the fall for the 2020-2021 school year. The plan follows the state’s Safe Start phased approach to reopening on a county-by-county basis. 

Inslee said in the proclamation that “until there is an effective vaccine, effective treatment or herd immunity” schools will implement and require personal protective behaviors set forth in the K-12 Summer 2020 Services During the COVID-19 Outbreak and the COVID-19 School Worksite K-12 Fall 2020 Services guidance documents”.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal unveiled the Reopening Washington Schools 2020 Planning Guide authorized under the proclamation. 

In the document it states that all students, staff, volunteers, and guests must wear cloth face coverings or face shields in K-12 settings.

In addition, no students, staff, vendors, parents and guardians, or guests will be allowed on-site if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact.

Staff and students will be checked for signs of illness at entry each day and physical distancing ( within each group of students as much as possible, adding that “Not all strategies will be feasible for all schools”.

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction added that given the social distancing requirements and varying conditions of school buildings statewide, school leaders recognize that a ‘one size fits all’ model will not work. Instead, in partnership with their students, staff, families, and local health departments, school districts will create a schedule that works best for their school community.

Earlier this year, Gov. Inslee announced the statewide closure of all schools due to the developing COVID-19 pandemic. Those closures were later extended through the end of the 2019-2020 school year. 

“Today we are setting a path for moving forward with school activities in the summer and school reopening in the fall,” Inslee said. “We have been working closely with Superintendent Reykdal and his staff at OSPI, state Department of Health, the Department of Labor and Industries and a wide range of stakeholders across the state to ensure the health of all students and educators.

“We all want students back in educational settings, but we must continue to monitor health data carefully, and proceed with caution. This virus is unpredictable and has upended our regular ways of doing everything. Therefore, if COVID cases spike or spread, we may need to reassess this plan. We cannot guarantee that school will open in fall. But for now, this guidance provides a path that schools, educators and families need to plan for the coming months and the fall. Kids need to be learning but they also need to be safe and healthy.”