Health officials in favor of fall opening for schools

North Olympic Peninsula health officers support the idea of sending students back to brick-and-mortar schools this fall.

On June 11, state Superintendent Chris Reykdal announced that he expects schools to be able to open in fall with added health and safety protocols. Gov. Jay Inslee ordered the schools closed in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I think it’s very possible to do school safely,” said Dr. Allison Unthank, Clallam County health officer.

“I’ve been working very closely with the superintendents throughout this process and will be working more and more as we get closer to fall, to make sure that we can do school as safely as possible with in-person instruction.

“I think we can do that and we’ll keep working on those plans as we get closer to fall,” Unthank continued.

“School is a very important place for children. It’s very important for them to learn, but it’s also where a lot of kids get services; it’s where they get counseling, it’s where they get food and we really need that in place so they can continue to receive those benefits from schools.”

Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, during a June 12 interview agreed with Unthank about the importance of in-person schooling.

“I think it’s important that we figure out how to do this, so we help kids resume their education and we keep everyone safe; both the students and the teachers and the staff,” Locke said.

“It’ll be challenging, but we’ve put a lot of work into it and I think it’s something that we can do. It’s going to be different than school prior to the pandemic but I think it’s absolutely necessary.”

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