Schools in Washington told to prepare for long-term closures, while finding ways to educate our kids

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Schools in our state should prepare for long-term closures and they must come up with plans to educate students by Monday, March 30.

That’s the message from the state’s top educator, Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal.  It comes one week after Governor Jay Inslee ordered all school buildings in the state to close until April 27th and as families struggle to keep their kids learning and on-task.

Reykdal said, “Hopefully in this moment we realize that it is temporary, but boy, do we value public education.”

His office providing guidelines and tools for districts. Some of those include:

    Here's a link to see those guidelines for districts, teaches, and parents: Guidance for Long-term School Closures as of March 23, 2020

    Reykdal said about the guidelines, “We can make learning happen for every kid. It won’t necessarily be an online platform.”

    According to the the state's top educator, some districts are using school buses to drop off packets and pick up homework and bridge the digital divide. Equity has been a concern for Reykdal and school district superintendents around the state.

    So how much longer could this last?

    For now, Reykdal says the plan is still for students to return to schools on April 27, but that could change, and he's advised school districts to make plans now in the event schools are closed through the remainder of the school year.

    Reykdal said.  "Our system has to be prepared for something longer. The evidence in other states and other countries is it could persist beyond that, and we don’t want to be surprised by then in trying to react to it. “

    15-year-old Ava Stewart, a sophomore at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, has been feeling disconnected from the ways she accustomed to learning.

    Stewart said, “It’s really hard to find the time,  When I don't have the focus that I usually do in a six-hour school day, and finding all the materials (I need) without it becoming a huge manhunt.”

    She's concerned remote learning could impact her high school resume and ability to get into the college of her choice.

    “I was supposed to be doing biology this quarter," Stewart said, "I’m now missing (it) and I really want to go into a career with biology.”

    Her mother shared the frustration so many of us are feeling.

    Kristin Stewart said, “Trying to manage two parents who are working remotely and getting teenagers to do their work is beyond challenging.”

    At this point, the state has not reduced the requirements for graduating seniors, although that may be coming.

    If you'd like more information and resources, just visit: K12.WA.US