OLYMPIA – To bring students back to class by the end of April, Gov. Ayse Insley is set to issue an emergency statement banning students from attending Washington K-12 school districts, at least in person.
The announcement on Friday next week comes at a time when Inslee is growing frustrated that some schools in Washington remain only online. This includes the state’s largest district, Seattle Public Schools – where the local union voted earlier this month to allow most students to continue their education online only.
At the same time, the Northshore School District was planning to return elementary school students by the end of March, but aimed to keep most students in grades 6-12 away by early May.
Inslee’s new order will ban school districts from offering what is known as the K-12 instruction hybrid model, which is a blend of distance learning.
According to the order, K-6 students in the state must be given the opportunity for hybrid training until April 5.
Then, by April 19, all other students should be given the opportunity to have a hybrid instruction.
On that day, school districts are required to conduct at least 30% of their weekly instruction as individual, campus instruction for all K-12 students.
Inslee and state education official Chris Rijkdal have been saying for months that the decision to reopen the schools rests with the local school board.
But in recent weeks, the governor has been frustrated by the slow pace as Washington schools lag behind schools in other states in terms of reopening.
“If I had nickel for every excuse I heard for not instructing our children on the spot, I would be a millionaire right now,” the governor told a state news conference last week about the state’s COVID-19 response. “These excuses are getting a little tedious, to be honest.
First Lady Trudy Insley added to the choir on Sunday in an opinion column that called for a personal study, saying: “This is the responsibility we must take to eradicate institutional inequalities – one student at a time.”
Friday’s move seems to fall on the extraordinary powers that the legislature has long given to governors to circumvent major crises, including broad powers to impose restrictions.
According to the state charter, the governor has authority “over other activities which, in his opinion, should be prohibited in order to help preserve կյանքը maintain life, health, property or public peace.”
In this case, Inslee restricts school districts from providing distance learning only.
The announcement follows an order from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who last week instructed all schools to reopen by April 19. The governor of Arizona also ordered the opening of schools. It comes just days after Inslee first assigned teachers and school staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
And that comes almost a year after Inslee ordered the state’s public-private schools to close because of the coronavirus.
Much has changed since researchers and health officials knew how the virus was contained. A growing body of research suggests that schools may reopen և restrict intra-university transfers when long-term safety commitments are faithfully used, such as wearing a universal mask և social distance. Schools reopening in Washington are required to do so.
But many of the state’s school buildings are still closed. As of Friday, about 40 percent of the state’s school children were studying in person at least once a week. Seattle’s largest school district, Seattle Public Schools, remains closed to negotiations with the teachers’ union, keeping buildings closed to most students throughout the epidemic.
Education union officials, who are Inslee’s main political allies, have raised a number of security concerns, calling on the state to speed up vaccinations of teachers and staff. Transmission is possible in schools և The state has registered at least 146 outbreaks in schools since the outbreak began. The epidemic affects at least two people with associated infections.