Washington adjusts school reopening guidance with hope of seeing more students return to classrooms

Schools Plan For Potential Of Remote Learning Into The Fall
Ted S. Warren

FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2021 file photo, students wear masks as they work in a fourth-grade classroom, at Elk Ridge Elementary School in Buckley, Wash. After seeing two academic years thrown off course by the pandemic, school leaders around the country are planning for the possibility of more distance learning next fall at the start of yet another school year.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Governor Jay Inslee announced Tuesday that the state is adjusting its school reopening guidance to allow more Washington students to return to in-person learning in a greater capacity.

Inslee said Washington’s guidance is in line with that of the Centers for Disease Control. Earlier this month, the CDC released data showing there is evidence that in-person schooling can be done safely, primarily by enforcing strict masking and social distancing protocols.

Ultimately, school districts are responsible for deciding what is best for their students.

In-person, hybrid and remote learning schedules vary by district, but the state hopes to increase the number of hours students are in classrooms more and more each day, as educators have determined that in-person learning is the best way to educate children.

RELATED: In new Covid-19 guidance, CDC recommends 5 key strategies to reopen schools

READ: CDC: Strong evidence in-person schooling can be done safely

One way that Washington plans to help schools reopen safely is by offering more COVID-19 testing and increasing testing access for both students and educators.

“This is part of our ongoing effort to give more student the option to return to in person instruction, and it obviously increases access to testing. Both for our educators and students,” said Gov. Inslee.

Spokane Public Schools has been doing their own free drive-through testing program since January across four different location.  This service is available to students, staff, and family members.  So far they have administered more than 1,000 tests.

Earlier on in the pandemic, the Department of Health developed a testing pilot program, which has been in place for 13 districts across the state. Inslee said about 50 additional school districts will be participating in the volunteer program by the end of this month.

“Unequivocally, if we have strong health and safety measures, returning to school is safe,” Inslee said.

RELATED: Washington Legislature passes graduation waiver measure