Today, Governor Inslee announced that schools will be prohibited from providing traditional, in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year. Gov. Jay Inslee and Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal today announced the extension of school closures for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. The order keeps both public and private schools closed in accordance with the governor’s original order on March 13. Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal’s statement is below.

In mid-March, Governor Inslee closed all public and private K–12 schools in our state through April 24. Today, he extended that directive and ordered all school buildings to close throughout the remainder of the 2019–20 school year.

We have more than 1.2 million students in our state who are impacted by this. Over 80,000 seniors may have attended their last in-person high school class without knowing it.

Just as our great-grandparents understood after two World Wars and the Great Depression, this generation will grow up knowing how to persevere in the face of challenges.

Especially during times of uncertainty, students need our support. They need grace, and structure, and routine. Even though the world may feel like it’s upside down, our students need to know that we will move forward.

These next two months will be tough. I won’t diminish that. However, learning must continue.

It will look different than we are used to. It will be more flexible, and it will evolve as we learn more and gain experience in the tools available to us.

Over the past three weeks since schools first closed, my office has worked tirelessly to provide guidance to school districts, keep the public informed, and problem-solve ways of ensuring all students in our state have access to high-quality continuous learning during this school closure.

This includes working with our congressional delegation to obtain waivers of some federal requirements in order to provide districts with much needed flexibility, as well as securing additional funding to support this continuous learning.

It includes providing school districts with a detailed framework for providing educational services during these unprecedented times, including tools and resources for overcoming inequities in access.

It also includes working with internet providers and software leaders to ensure every student and educator within the state has access to a device, home connectivity, and platforms for teaching and learning to take place.

This is not to say that moving traditional, in-person instruction to an online model is what is best for every student or every district. However, this is an unprecedented time.

This won’t be perfect. But we are a state full of dedicated, talented professionals who will continue running through walls to serve our students.

We will not let the fear of imperfection stand in our way.

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The governor’s proclamation prohibits in-person instruction through June 19, with exceptions for students with disabilities and English language learners for whom distance learning would present challenges. Facilities remain accessible for limited use, including providing child care and packing take-home meals for students’ families to pick up. All activities must follow Department of Health social distancing guidelines.

“This closure is guided by science and is our greatest opportunity to keep our kids, educators and communities safe,” Inslee said at a news conference Monday afternoon. “If there is any opportunity to bring students back for a few days, including graduation ceremonies for our seniors, we will continue to explore that option. That opportunity will be guided by our collective behavior and the success we can achieve with the choices we make today.”

Inslee said students’ grades will not suffer as a result of the closure and encouraged them to take advantage of remaining learning opportunities. The governor also asked teachers and administrators to work together on the best path forward for the remainder of the school year.

“There is no question about it: Our educators and school staff are absolutely dedicated to continuing to provide supports for students and their learning,” Reykdal said. “We have already seen districts step up to provide meals for students in need and child care for the children of essential workers. Over the past three weeks, they have prepared for and begun providing continuous learning for students – and this will only get better and more sophisticated over time. We will continue serving our students and we will persevere through this.”

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