Washington Superintendent expects schools to stay open amid omicron surge

OLYMPIA, Wash.– Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal stressed that the state is not planning any large-scale shutdowns for students.

Reykdal addressed the current state of Washington’s public education system during a news conference on Friday.

With public health experts expecting a rise in COVID cases in late January, Reykdal did say some school districts may have to temporarily switch to remote learning.

That said, families should not expect mass school closures in 2022 due to COVID with current health and safety measures. However, some closures are happening because of staffing shortages and teachers calling out sick.

Reykdal also took time Friday to address state testing. Testing took place this fall, marking the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. Reykdal says there was a 90% participation rate in Washington state from data of the previous school year.

Reykdal added that students’ overall test scores are down across the state. He says it’s not surprising considering what they have been through over the last two years. Another state test should be mandated in the spring.

The conference also covered student mental health, with many students having experienced isolation, loss of loved ones and adjusting to online learning. OSPI asked the state legislature for additional staff investments in schools dedicated to supporting students’ physical and mental health.

Reykdal also addressed school funding, with Washington rapidly approaching the national average in funding efforts for schools. OSPI also requested a bill this legislative session to provide flexibility over credit requirements to students in grades 11 and 12.

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