Washington schools to receive reopening plan from state educators

OLYMPIA, Wash. — As the debate rages on about whether to reopen schools this fall, KIRO 7 News learned school districts will finally get some guidance from the state.

The week of July 13th could be a time of clarification for Washington’s students, parents, and teachers.

On that day, state education officials will be issuing a template on how to plan for reopening.

“In almost every district, they’ll be some form of remote learning; they’ll be some form of blended learning just to accommodate all the needs of families,” said Washington Education Superintendent Chris Reykdal.

Exact details of the state’s template haven’t been released.

Yet in the Northshore District, KIRO 7 learned educators are already considering a hybrid learning system.

“We’ve continued to have such rapid enrollment growth. It’s not possible to have all our students back and maintain all the social distancing requirements,” said Dr. Michelle Reid, superintendent of Northshore School District.

Like all districts in the state, Northshore schools will have to line up their plans with the one issued by the state.

In the meantime, district leaders said they are relying on parent and student focus groups to stay ahead of the curve.

“What’s interesting is the concerns raised by families, and the concerns raised by staff are really similar,” said Reid. “They’re not on different pages, for the most part.”

In Bothell, parents told KIRO 7 they’re taking things day-by-day, especially with the possibility that a five-day school week won’t be happening.

“I think you have to get really creative right now and keep them busy,” said Northshore parent Debbie Stratton. “Sometimes, you have good days. And sometimes, you have bad days.”

When the time comes that students do return to in-person classes, Reykdal insisted some things will never change, even with social distancing.

“Kids are going to sharpen the pencil, a teacher is going to move around the classroom to work with individuals, the bells are going to ring and students are going to walk through halls,” he said, adding that each activity is possible because it doesn’t require a lot of time.

As a result, Reykdal said possible exposure to COVID-19 would be minimal, especially if students and teachers protected themselves.

“What makes this tolerable in the world of public health is that we have other metrics we’re using. We’re wearing our face coverings,. wWe’re washing our hands. We’re frequently cleaning. We have good ventilation in our schools,” he said.