Washington State Superintendent Chris Reykdal announced today at a press conference that schools in Washington state should plan to reopen classrooms for students for the 2020-21 school year with a full, regular school year of 180 days and 1027 instructional hours. All districts will also be required to prepare a backup plan, in case a new outbreak requires school closure or the district is not able to safely reopen at the start of the school year.
The superintendent’s plan was based on work by a 120-plus-person task force of parents, students, health professionals, and teachers and is supported by the Governor, the Department of Health, and the Department of Labor and Industries.
Reykdal stressed that strict adherence to safety rules related to social distancing will need to be implemented and enforced by the schools and must include face mask-wearing (with accommodation for children unable to wear masks), hand washing, and physical distancing between students and teachers.
Reykdal acknowledged the many challenges of opening up the schools again but said face-to-face classes are critical for equitable access to quality education for all kids.
There are several models the OSPI proposed that schools may adapt to meet the safety requirements including rotating schedules with a reduced number of students in the building at all times. Detailed plans about how the individual school districts (there are over 300 school districts in Washington state) will reopen safely in the fall will come from each district.