Washington, Idaho schools won’t reopen this school year. What’s at stake for kids?
SPOKANE, Wash – In-person education for Washington and Idaho K-12 students has been canceled through the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee made the announcement Monday with Superintendent Chris Reykdal, saying reopening schools, even if the virus isn’t spreading through communities as quickly, could erase any gains the state has made in battling the illness.
Within minutes of Inslee’s announcement, the Idaho Board of Education voted to extend soft school closures through the school year, as well.
So, what does that mean for kids?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out considerations for school closures. It weighs risks and factors for various lengths of closures.
For long-term closures, those ranging from 8 to 20 weeks, the CDC says it could result in students congregating outside of schools, gathering at friends’ houses and other locations. The CDC says it “will increase risk to older adults or those with co-morbidities, as almost 40% of US grandparents provide childcare for grandchildren. School closures will likely increase this percentage.”
It also says that students who rely on schools for key services like meals, physical health, mental health, etc. are put at “substantial risk.” That includes the risk of increased anxiety and other mental health and emotional problems associated with kids not being able to interact with their peers.
It also says the economic impact on families increases the longer a closure continues, as parents with lower wage jobs may lose their jobs.
As far as an impact on schools, the CDC says “losing 2 months of learning is likely to prevent many students from meeting grade level knowledge and skill expectations and will jeopardize schools’ ability to meet standardized testing requirements.”
More than 1.2 million students in Washington’s K-12 schools, and more than 307,000 in Idaho, are affected by these closures.
Gov. Inslee says Washington can’t afford to lose any gains made against the virus by going back to school too early.
“To families: I know that it’ll be difficult to find a new normal at home. But, we must put the health and safety of our community first,” Gov. Inslee said on Twitter Monday.
“Just as our great-grandparents understood after two World Wars and the great depression, this generation will grow up knowing how to persevere in the face of challenges,” Reykdal said.
Both men spoke of the need for school districts to continue distance education and the need for better access to internet service for all families. Many districts, including Spokane Public Schools, are providing some level of education during the pause, but teachers are not assigning grades.
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