State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal talks to the media on March 12 in Olympia. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte, file)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal talks to the media on March 12 in Olympia. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte, file)

Students will not return to classrooms this school year

Monday’s decision applies to all schools — public, private and charter.

OLYMPIA — Washington students will not return to classrooms this school year, and maybe longer, leaving teachers with the daunting challenge of educating about 1.2 million elementary and secondary students through distance learning.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday extended the current closure of public, private and charter schools through June 19 and warned campuses could possibly be shuttered through the summer and into the start of next school year.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal joined Inslee for the announcement.

“These are difficult times, and this is a tough day here in Washington state,” Reykdal said.

School campuses have endured an unprecedented shutdown statewide since March 17 under an earlier Inslee directive. Districts had been eyeing a potential reopening on April 27.

But their hopes evaporated last week when Inslee extended the statewide stay-at-home order to May 4 in response to the pandemic that has sickened thousands and claimed hundreds of lives.

“This is part and parcel of those efforts to flatten the ‘curve’ as it goes up but (also) to reduce the number of deaths as it goes down,” Inslee said, referring to the effort to reduce infections under an ongoing stay-home order. The increase in new coronavirus cases is expected to level off and decline in coming weeks, but continued social distancing is necessary to prevent a relapse, health officials have said.

“Our fatalities are still going up,” Inslee warned. “We have not reached the peak of this pandemic.”

As of Sunday, when the latest statewide numbers were released, 7,984 people in Washington had tested positive for COVID-19, and 338 of them had died since the outbreak began in January, according to the state Department of Health.

Monday’s decision applies to all schools — public, private and charter.

It continues to prohibit in-person classes and recreation on school grounds but does not ban school-sponsored child care, nutrition programs and other social services, which districts have been providing in various ways.

Schools are encouraged to continue providing distance learning.

But the order allows in-person and on-site educational services deemed essential and necessary under state or federal law if social distancing practices and proper hygiene are followed at all times.

This could enable some tutoring support and one-on-one instruction with high school seniors to help them finish projects required for graduation. Or it might comply with requisites of Individualized Education Programs.

While officials hope schools can resume normal operations in the fall, Reykdal said, he couldn’t promise that. Meantime, he said “the way of the future” is expanded distance learning online.

Reykdal, in a You Tube video posted Friday, foreshadowed a lengthy closure of classrooms.

“I don’t know if we’re coming back to school this year,” he said. “I think you should expect to be in this distance learning model for quite a long time.”

Inslee informed superintendents of the decision in a conference call Monday. Reykdal also took part.

While districts have been providing meals and child care to students since the closure, they did not restart academic instruction until last week.

Reykdal directed all public school districts to have an online learning plan in place by March 30.

Graduation ceremonies for high school seniors could also go online, Peacock said.

Not all local districts are relying solely on an online curriculum.

For some districts, it could be instruction through books, workbooks, phone, paper packets, video conferences or videos. For others, it might mean regular check-ins with students to see what resources they have at home and working to fill any gaps.

Herald writers Chuck Taylor and Joey Thompson contributed. Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bothell-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bothell-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

File photo of construction near North Bend on Aug. 16. Sound Publishing file photo
                                File photo of construction near North Bend on Aug. 16. Sound Publishing file photo
Rural King County mayors want state to let them enter Phase 2

Mayors cite heavy economic damage from prolonged shutdown.

New dashboard shows how far along King County is to meeting Phase II metrics

The county has met more than half its goals, but the ones it hasn’t met are critical in determining how many people are still being infected, and how quickly people are being tested.

As sales tax plummets in King County, mental health and drug program funding dries up

County will need to make severe cuts to MIDD program this year.

Auburn Mountain View Cemetery Manager Craig Hudson, center, confers with maintenance workers David Partridge, left, and Zach Hopper in March 2020. Sound Publishing file photo
State allows weddings, funerals, religious services to restart with restrictions

Gov. Inslee issues new rules during May 27 news conference.

State loosens cougar hunting restrictions

The regulations will impact 19 areas around the state.

American Medical Response (AMR) organized a parade of first responders to show appreciation for St. Elizabeth Hospital staff April 30. Photo by Ray Miller-Still/Sound Publishing
The complications of counting COVID deaths in Washington

State relies on results of tests and death certificates in calculating the daily toll of the disease.

Republicans file lawsuit over Inslee’s emergency: ‘Facts, and the science, are clear’

Lawsuit says state has violated Constitutional rights of citizens.

A look at construction work. Photo courtesy city of Kenmore
Kenmore shares update on West Sammamish River Bridge construction, Memorial Day

No construction is scheduled for Saturday (May 23) through Monday (May 25).

Most Read