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June 2 update on schools reopening

06/02/2020
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The OSPI stakeholder work group tasked with devising plans for reopening schools is beginning to hash out the details of what school will look like in 2020-21. WEA has 21 members on the OSPI work group, and they represent us well: teachers, ESP members and representatives including school nurses, psychologists and counselors, from small and large locals, east to west.

The work group's recommendations will inform an OSPI report that will be driven by requirements and recommendations from both the Washington Department of Health and Labor and Industries, and supported by the Governor's office. The initial OSPI report, including DOH and L&I requirements and recommendations, is expected to be released on Monday, June 8.

This week, we've learned two new things: come fall, school will not be what we left behind in March. The vast majority of students won’t be going back Monday through Friday for a full school day. Neither will school be the same distance learning model we have in place right now. This means that school will be some kind of hybrid model with both in-school and distance elements. The details beyond that are yet to be finalized. That said, the working group is providing advice on a variety of issues that need to be addressed under any kind of hybrid model:

  • Health screening
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Transportation practices
  • Food and nutrition services
  • School schedules
  • Learning standards and requirements
  • Social, emotional, and other needs of students and staff

OSPI will release its first round of guidance next week, with more to follow. The state guidelines will provide direction for school districts to implement, which means that our locals will be involved in bargaining many details of how these guidelines are put to work in our schools.

Throughout this process, our members on the committee have been consistent and clear that the safety of our students and staff should be the highest priority and DOH and L&I requirements should ensure safety.

WEA will continue to emphasize health and safety, economic security, and flexibility, whether in our participation on OSPI workgroups and committees, or through local bargaining.

WEA President Larry Delaney will provide updates as we learn new information.

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