Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal today announced an update in the metrics used to inform local school district decisions for in-person learning. They also announced $3 million from set aside funds to be distributed to implement health and safety protocols.
The update to the school health and safety toolkit comes after recent data showed limited COVID-19 transmission in school environments when state health and safety protocols are implemented.
The Department of Health suggests three categories for re-introducing in-person learning:
• For schools in counties where COVID-19 cases are “low” (less than 50 residents per 100,000), in-person learning should be made available for all students.
• In counties where COVID-19 cases are “moderate” (between 50 and 350 residents per 100,000), in-person learning should be phased in, starting with elementary students not already attending in person and middle school students, followed by high school students.
• Finally, in counties where COVID-19 cases are “high” (over 350 per 100,000 residents), it’s recommended that schools should only offer in-person instruction for elementary and high-need students in small groups of 15 students or fewer.
"I have sought the opinions of state and local education administrators, as well as educators, staff, parents and school boards. And today, we are providing them more clarity and confidence in getting students back in the classroom," Inslee said during a press conference Wednesday. "Many people's lives revolve around a regular school schedule and, apart from the academics, schools provide social supports that advance healthy childhood development."
Related to safety in schools, the governor will issue an accompanying proclamation requiring schools by law to implement health and safety measures, and mandates staff involvement in health and safety related decisions.
Source: Washington Governor's Office