Schools closed for remainder of year; coinciding sports cancelled

Schools will remain closed for the rest of the 2019-20 school year.

Gov. Jay Inslee and Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal announced on Monday the extension of school closures for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. The state’s more than 1.2 million public and private K-12 students will continue distance learning at least until their terms end in June. Schools have been shut statewide since March 17 and had been scheduled to reopen April 27.

That order keeps both public and private schools closed in accordance with the governor’s original order on March 13.

The governor’s proclamation prohibits in-person instruction through June 19, with exceptions for students with disabilities and English language learners for whom distance learning would present challenges. 

  • Nothing in this order shall be construed as precluding a public school district, charter school, or private school from using their school facilities to provide childcare, nutrition programs, and other social services necessary to preserve and maintain life, health, property or the public peace.
  • Further, nothing in this order shall be construed as precluding public school districts, charter schools, or private schools from providing supports to students necessary to meet course and credit requirements for high school graduation.

Facilities remain accessible for limited use, including providing child care and packing take-home meals for students’ families to pick up. All activities must follow Department of Health social distancing guidelines.

“This closure is guided by science and is our greatest opportunity to keep our kids, educators and communities safe,” Inslee said at a news conference Monday afternoon. “If there is any opportunity to bring students back for a few days, including graduation ceremonies for our seniors, we will continue to explore that option. That opportunity will be guided by our collective behavior and the success we can achieve with the choices we make today.”

As part of this closure, the WIAA have announced that this also includes the cancellation of all in-person extracurricular athletics and activities through the end of the school year. 

This will include all regular season contests and practices as well as all postseason tournaments and championship events.

“The decision was undoubtedly a difficult one for Governor Inslee. However, it was done so to keep the students and families of Washington safe. The WIAA Executive Board and the WIAA Staff feel for those students around the state that have had their seasons or careers cut short. This terrible disease has not only prevented students from creating lifelong memories through competition, it has limited the valuable lessons gained through participation in education-based athletics and activities.

The WIAA will continue to work with member schools around the state of Washington to navigate this unprecedented time. We have already seen some outstanding examples of athletic directors and coaches making the best of their situations and we know that work will continue.”

Inslee said that he feels students’ grades will not suffer as a result of the closure and encouraged them to take advantage of remaining learning opportunities. The governor also asked teachers and administrators to work together on the best path forward for the remainder of the school year.

“There is no question about it: Our educators and school staff are absolutely dedicated to continuing to provide supports for students and their learning,” Reykdal said. “We have already seen districts step up to provide meals for students in need and child care for the children of essential workers. Over the past three weeks, they have prepared for and begun providing continuous learning for students – and this will only get better and more sophisticated over time. We will continue serving our students and we will persevere through this.”

Read the proclamation here.