Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Garth Meyer
Gazette Reporter 

State expects in-person learning in fall

 

WHITMAN COUNTY – County school districts are working on plans to re-open in the fall after State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal announced last week the intention from state officials.

Reykdal laid out required changes to make it happen, including requiring masks and other modifications to normal operations.

"I am very thankful, we want to see our kids back in the building," said Paul Clark, Colton superintendent. "I think (Reykdal) is the Superintendent of Public Instruction to have right now."

Reykdal laid out the principles for the re-opening of schools June 11 in a 58-page document from OSPI. They include staying at home if sick or feeling ill symptoms, screening at school's entry, hand hygiene, social distancing, safe coverings of mouth and nose, limits on grouping students and staff and increased cleaning.

Clark was among 35 school officials around Eastern Washington on a call June 12 with Reykdal, as has occurred every other week during the virus.

While the governor's office, state office of Labor and Industries and Department of Health are expected to confirm or deny any final decision for fall, plans are moving in the direction of in-person learning.

In Colton, Clark will now convene staff members to talk about what their options are to meet the new criteria.

"How we crack this puzzle open," he said. "It looks to me that the state will allow our local health officers to weigh in and help make this decision."

Distancing in the classroom would mean moving desks six feet apart, potentially making certain hallways and stairways one-way and perhaps limiting bus routes.

"Wearing a mask is especially going to be tough on your little kids, but if that's the way we serve our community, we'll do it," said Clark.

Is there enough room in a classroom to keep the desks six feet apart?

"That's the $10 million question," said Clark. "In a small, rural district such as ours, it's much easier than it would be in a district like Pullman."

Further instruction is expected to be given from the governor and OSPI as the summer continues.

"I'm thankful for this, even though it provides a degree of frustration," Clark said.

 

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