The Seattle Public Schools board decided tonight to wait until a special meeting tomorrow to vote on its proposed reopening plan, so board members and staff could review what the governor announced this afternoon. Gov. Inslee said lessons learned elsewhere suggest students and staffers could return to in-person learning safely, sooner – all students, if cases are below 50 per 100,000 population, phased in (starting with the youngest students) if cases are between that point and 350 per 100,000.
(For reference, King County is currently at 420 cases per 100,000.) As the governor pointed out, while he has the authority to close schools, he does not have the authority to order them to reopen, so these are recommendations, not requirements. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal, also participating in the briefing, urged districts and their labor organizations to sit down ASAP and start talking about reopening plans. Read more about today’s announcement here; see the briefing video here.
Back to Seattle Public Schools – what they’re considering, unless there’s a major change before tomorrow’s vote, is a plan to bring back preK through first graders, plus some special-education students, starting March 1st. The board was told at tonight’s meeting that the plan would affect about 11,000 students, roughly one-fifth of the current enrollment. The safety plan enabling that would cost $18 million, the board was told. Parents who don’t want to send their children back would have the option of staying with online learning; they would survey parents of potential returnees in January and February to find out their plans. Tomorrow’s meeting is at 4 pm; find the agenda here.