Thursday, June 11 - 12:55 p.m.
Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith reports on today's release of the Reopening Washington Schools 2020 District Planning Guide
Less than an hour ago State Superintendent Reykdal announced he expects schools across the state of Washington to reopen in the fall for in-person instruction. This immediately followed the release of the Reopening Washington Schools 2020 District Planning Guide. In the document, and highlighted during his 11:30am press conference that I listened to, he made clear “Most districts should plan on going back to school for “traditional” schooling,” albeit with preventative safety measures such as wearing masks, enhanced cleaning, and incorporating social distancing when feasible, to name a few.
Additionally, he also pointed out, and as referenced in the Reopening Guide, districts are expected to make plans for alternative delivery methods. These may incorporate schedules such as am/pm or every-other-day attendance if local outbreaks or regional health conditions warrant enhanced safety precautions. Districts must also develop plans that would allow them to pivot quickly to a distance-learning model if it becomes necessary for short-duration off-campus learning to support enhanced cleaning measures following possible exposure at a site, or other localized outbreak.
While we anticipate continued guidance over the coming weeks, this news provides us the framework necessary as we continue our 2020-21 Reopening Plans and activities. Our progress, timelines and engagement opportunities around these efforts can be found on our website HERE.
In addition to the significant parent, student and staff input already received in recent surveys regarding fall, we currently have dozens of faculty and community partners participating in nine different planning/input teams. Their continued work will serve critical to inform our response plans, especially if local conditions do not permit a full return to school for all in September. Ultimately, these plans will be reviewed and approved by the school board and must be submitted to OSPI in August prior to the start of school.
While there are many questions left to be answered surrounding summer activities, fall athletics, and individualized circumstances for students and staff, I am as hopeful as I have ever been surrounding the likelihood of being able to safely welcome back staff and students come September 7th(our scheduled first day of school). It is important to emphasize, however, that in order to do so we must continue to remain vigilant as a community regarding our COVID-19 precautions and measures as we work together towards achieving Phase 3 and beyond status for Walla Walla County. Local conditions may greatly dictate our ability to reopen traditionally in the fall.
As I have pledged to all of you since the onset of this pandemic, we will continue to partner closely with our local health experts, engage stakeholders, and communicate as we work together to develop plans to keep our 6,000 students and faculty safe.