August 18, 2020

New Guidance on Reopening Schools – What Families Need to Know

State Superintendent Chris Reykdal, Governor’s Policy Adviser Maddy Thompson, and Department of Health’s COVID response director Lacy Fehrenbach met with WSPTA members for a webinar on August 10. The main topics for the hour-long event included the new school reopening framework and answers to questions about serving all students, meal service, childcare, and tracking attendance. Listen here.

When the school reopening requirements were released in mid-June, school district superintendents began working with their staff, parents and families, community members and the state to develop plans that addressed the key health and safety requirements:

  • Daily screening and staying home when sick.
  • Face coverings.
  • 6-feet of distance between students and staff in classrooms and reducing interaction when possible between students on school buses, when serving school meals, and passing periods.
  • Handwashing and hygiene.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces in school buildings.

These layers of protection remain in place and are required for a school to reopen to in-student instruction, even for small groups of students and for staff who return to school facilities.

It’s important to remember that back in June when these requirements were released, the novel coronavirus case trend was flat or decreasing in most areas of the state. The requirements were considered foundational to reopening schools with in-student instruction, and the goal was to bring students back.

Unfortunately, in response to rising positive cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, as well as new information about how other countries and states were reopening schools, on August 5 the Governor announced a new health metrics framework that has the effect of guiding school districts in 34 of the 39 counties to start school with a remote learning approach.

The health metric framework recommendations are based on the number of positive cases per 100,000 people over 14 days. It offers three scenarios: High (more than 75 cases), Moderate (25-75 cases), and Low (fewer than 25 cases). The decision-tree describes the actions school districts would take under the three scenarios.

WSPTA has summarized the guidance to school districts to help leaders and members understand the potential scenarios for reopening schools in the fall. There is a summary and an infographic. Share these with your PTA board and members.

Category: Education

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