Gov. Inslee: It’s time to get kids back into classrooms

Dept. of Health: Once schools reopen, they should not go back to remote learning.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Governor Jay Inslee is lowering the bar for schools to reopen, saying now is the time to get students back into their classrooms.

The governor and state schools superintendent Chris Reykdal on Wednesday unveiled new reopening standards in hopes of pushing schools toward a phased return to in-person learning — regardless of local COVID-19 infection rates.

In fact, the Washington Department of Health’s deputy secretary of health for the COVID-19 response said once schools reopen, they should not go back to remote learning.

“When schools can demonstrate the ability to limit transmission and disease rates are flat or decreasing, we recommend that you keep going forward to bring in more and more students,” explained Fehrenbach. “When disease rates are increasing, we recommend you take a pause on expanding to additional students but it is not needed that you revert back to distance learning as long as you can limit transmission in the schools.”

RELATED: Coronavirus update: 15,000+ infections in Tri-Cities

Inslee’s administration had previously taken a more cautious approach.

“It took me a while to come to this conclusion, and if I may, obviously the data and the scientific analysis is very important,” Gov. Inslee said.

Joining Inslee, Fehrenbach and Reykdal was Ryan Peterson, a school bus driver with the Kennewick School District. He remarked on how well the students are doing considering all that’s been asked of them in 2020.

“The challenges that our students are facing have really gone above and beyond what I would consider what I could do as a student back in the 1980s. They’re very, very resilient and doing a great job at that,” Peterson told the governor. “The mitigations in place go from electrostatic sprayers that go in and spray our buses in between routes as well as making sure our windows are open and our ventilation on the top of the roof of our buses is open for positive airflow, keeping any potential viruses moving out of the buses.”

RELATED: First COVID-19 vaccinations administered to Washington health care workers

Gov. Inslee urged reluctant teachers to return to the classroom, particularly those who teach the youngest and neediest students.

Wednesday’s news conference highlighted guidance from the state on how and when to reopen schools. Individual districts have the final say regarding reopening.

KAPP-KVEW+ KAPP KVEW PLUS

Watch on your connected TV through Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV or Android TV and on your phone; just search “KAPP-KVEW+”