The state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has released a framework for Washington K-12 schools to reopen this fall, following feedback from more than 120 representatives from across Washington State, including school superintendents, teachers, families, students, and business and other community leaders. The guidance takes into account public health requirements from the Washington Department of Health (DOH), as well as recommendations from educators and school systems that have successfully reopened in other parts of the world.

While educators across the state committed themselves to providing the best possible virtual education experiences for their students after schools were ordered to be closed for in-person education by Gov. Jay Inslee in mid-March, the state does recognize that distance learning opportunities have not been entirely equitable in all cases. The guidance for next school year is based on closing opportunity gaps and the premise that being able to provide an equitable education experience for all students relies on districts’ ability to hold in-person instruction as much as possible.

“To be very clear, it is my expectation that schools will open this fall for in-person instruction,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal.

The guidance recognizes that it may not be possible for all school buildings and districts to fully offer in-person instruction that meets DOH’s physical distancing requirements. For schools that must limit their in-person instruction, there are a few options:

  1. Split or rotating schedules with distance learning,
  2. Phased-in opening with continuous learning, and
  3. “Continuous learning 2.0” – an enhanced remote learning system.

Schools that meet in person will be required to follow DOH’s health and safety guidelines, including requirements around physical distancing, face coverings and personal protective equipment (PPE), and appropriate sanitation measures. All will be required to wear cloth face coverings in any K-12 settings, unless they are physically or medically unable to do so.

Anyone who is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or has come in close contact with someone who has confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in the previous 14 days will not be allowed access to a school (health care providers and other workers who wore PPE excluded). The state has also advised that large student gatherings, such as field trips, be cancelled, and that students will need to be spaced at least 6 feet apart at all times.

Southwest Washington school districts are each working to develop their own unique school reopening plans within the framework of the guidance provided by OSPI. School districts are required to submit their plans for reopening for the 2020-2021 school year within the first two weeks of their first day of school this fall. For information on your local district’s plans for reopening this fall, please reach out to the district directly.

Superintendent Reykdal answers questions from the public about going back to school in the fall

In this video, Superintendent Chris Reykdal reviews some of the high-level points of the guidance and expresses his gratitude to educators, parents and families, and students for their perseverance this spring.

Summer school activities

DOH has also released guidance for summer school operations across the state. The guidance can be found here.

Read more

To read the full school reopening guidance, please click here to read OSPI’s document. You may also view the press conference that occurred on Thursday, June 11, in which Superintendent Chris Reykdal addressed the media on the state’s reopening guidance and answered many clarifying questions on OSPI’s Facebook page.