Washington schools staying closed for rest of school year
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and state schools Superintendent Chris Reykdal announced Monday that due to the coronavirus outbreak schools will remain physically closed for the remainder of the school year and that the state’s more than 1.2 million public and private K-12 students will continue distance learning until the end of June.
Schools have been shut statewide since March 17, and were originally scheduled to reopen April 27. Now, that closure is extended until midnight June 19 — when the spring term ends — and schools are encouraged to continue to provide distance learning. The order also asks schools to start planning for a potential expansion of the order into the summer and fall.
Under the order, some in-person and on-site services like meetings with seniors to help finish up final projects and tutoring support is allowed only if social distancing and proper hygiene practices are followed.
Last week, Inslee extended orders to keep non-essential businesses closed and most of the state’s residents home through May 4, saying that social distancing measures must remain in place an additional month in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Violation of the order is a gross misdemeanor, but the governor’s office has said the goal is education, not to arrest people.
There have been more than 330 COVID-19 deaths and more than 7,900 confirmed cases to date in the state. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
Officials have been cautiously optimistic that the state’s strategies have helped Washington avoid the levels of infections and deaths seen in other states. On Sunday, Inslee said the state will return more than 400 ventilators of the 500 it has received from the federal government so they can go to New York and other states hit harder by the coronavirus.
Washington received 500 ventilators last month from the Strategic National Stockpile.