The Governor’s Office published the formal proclamation that he announced on Friday. You can find it here: Proclamation 21-05: Children and Youth Mental Health Crisis.
Message from Chris Reykdal, Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction
Governor Inslee just announced a forthcoming executive order (watch the press conference here) that will require all school districts to provide all K–12 students with the opportunity to receive at least two days per week of in-person learning (they may be partial or full days) no later than April 19. We have published a Q&A document that you may find helpful and can be shared with your communities.
Following is a high-level summary:
- Our students are navigating mental and behavioral health crises at staggering rates, many of them feeling isolated and disconnected from their peers, mentors, and educators.
- With this week’s passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, we estimate our schools will receive $2.6 billion through rounds I, II, and III in federal emergency relief funds. The Governor will encourage OSPI to use some of those funds to support mental health supports for students.
- The executive order will also direct the Department of Health and the Health Care Authority to immediately begin working on recommendations that would detail how to support the behavioral health needs of our children and youth over the next 12 months.
- Our students are also disengaging from their learning, with large increases in absences and in the percentage of students receiving no credit for their courses.
- Schools will still be required to follow all mandatory health and safety requirements by the Department of Health and the Department of Labor & Industries.
- By April 19, at least 30% of each student’s average weekly instructional hours must be provided in-person (unless the student and their family chooses to learn fully remotely). Each student must have an opportunity to learn in-person at least two days per week. These may be partial or full days.
- Districts are required to phase-in in-person learning by the following dates:
- By April 5, all students in grades K–6 (that have not already been) must be provided with an opportunity to engage in in-person learning.
- By April 19, all students in grades K–12 (that have not already been) must be provided with an opportunity to engage in in-person learning.
- All school districts must continue to work to exceed the 30% minimum in-person instructional hours, and they must reach the maximum capacity and frequency of in-person learning they can provide – following all health and safety requirements – as soon as possible.
Please note: We know that for most of you, you will not be able to offer full-time in-person learning for all of your students until there is a change to the 6-foot physical distancing requirement. The Department of Health and Governor’s Office have heard you and they know this is an issue. The CDC is expected to examine the distance requirements in schools soon, which may cause DOH to change their guidance. At this time, there is no change to the requirement.
To close, I want to acknowledge that today marks one year since the Governor first ordered the closure of school facilities in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties. A statewide announcement came the following day. The past year has been challenging. I have said since day one that there was no training manual for this. Each of you have navigated the past year with your head and your heart, bringing your community to the decision-making table, intentionally opening up two-way communication channels, building partnerships with your local health officers, and doing everything you could to continue the excellent education that you provide – no matter where the “classroom” was.
I am proud to work alongside you, and our students are better because of your leadership.