Inslee closes schools for remainder of academic year

It’s nowhere near mid-June, but school is out … kind of.

Gov. Jay Inslee on April 6 prohibited all Washington state schools from providing in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

In mid-March, Inslee closed all public and private K-12 schools through April 24.

Washington state schools superintendent Chris Reykdal said about 1.2 million students are impacted by the decision, including more than 80,000 high school seniors who without knowing it have already attended their last high school class.

“Especially during times of uncertainty, students need our support,” Reykdal said a in press release on April 6.

“They need grace, and structure, and routine. Even though the world may feel like it’s upside down, our students need to know that we will move forward.”

Instruction will continue, however, Reykdal said. As mandated by Washington state education leaders at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, state officials have required all Washington schools ensure students are receiving “equitable” educational offerings.

“These next two months will be tough. I won’t diminish that. However, learning must continue,” Reykdal said.

“It will look different than we are used to. It will be more flexible, and it will evolve as we learn more and gain experience in the tools available to us.”

In Sequim, how that takes shape is still a bit in flux, Sequim schools superintendent Dr. Robert Clark said in an interview in late March, just prior to the district’s Spring Break (March 30-April 3).

Prior to Inslee’s April 6 announcement, Clark and other superintendents said seniors will still graduate and other grades will matriculate, just as they would have had school been in session. They just won’t be present.

“We want to see them, we miss them … but the scientific basis for bringing kids back is not there,” Clark said.

The Sequim superintendent said previously that the district has not yet developed contingency plans to stay closed to the end of the school year.

“We have our hands full through the next two or three weeks,” he said.

Reykdal said the state office is working with school districts to come up with solutions for providing education at home, including tools and resources for overcoming inequities in access.

That assistance, Reykdal said, will include working with internet providers and software leaders to see that each student and educator in Washington state has access to a device, home connectivity and platforms for teaching and learning to take place.

“This is not to say that moving traditional, in-person instruction to an online model is what is best for every student or every district; however, this is an unprecedented time,” he said.

“This won’t be perfect. But we are a state full of dedicated, talented professionals who will continue running through walls to serve our students.

We will not let the fear of imperfection stand in our way.”