Washington state joined at least 13 other states in canceling in-person classes for the rest of the school year for K-12 schools. Governor Jay Inslee and state superintendent Chris Reykdal announced the decision on Monday, April 6.
Inslee earlier ordered schools in Washington state to close from March 17 until April 24, to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. The Blaine school district's last day of in-person education was March 13.
Though the number of coronavirus cases and the strain on the healthcare system is expected to peak this month, Inslee and Reykdal stressed the importance of continuing to isolate and “social-distance” as the the rate of new infections slows.
“We cannot risk losing the gains we have made after the peak is presumably past,” Inslee said.
When the state originally decided to close schools, it did not require school districts to continue education. Now, it is requiring districts to continue education either online, through paper material sent back-and-forth, or other means.
“Transforming school and fully delivering education at a distance is no small feat. We know that distance learning could never replace the learning and other benefits that students get from attending school in-person, but this unprecedented health emergency demands that we take this step, both for the sake of our children and our community,” Inslee said. “I’m asking districts and educators to do your best at this tough time to perfect, as much as possible, a distance-learning model.”
The state is working with internet providers and software leaders to connect teachers and students, Inslee said. The governor did not rule out possibility of some form of in-person gatherings at schools.
“If there is any opportunity to bring students back for a few days later this year, including graduation ceremonies for seniors, we’re going to explore that option as the evidence continues to come in,” he said.