SRHD Supports Phasing in of 3rd through 5th Grades
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Spokane, Wash. – Following Governor Jay Inslee’s announcement of new guidance for in-person learning, Interim Spokane Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velazquez announced today his support for Spokane County school districts to allow phasing in additional grades, 3rd through 5th, for in-person learning starting in mid-January.
Velazquez explained public, private and parochial schools in Spokane County have been working closely with Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) to develop plans for the eventual return of all elementary grades to in-person learning.
“We’re watching the data closely and will include specific expectations of the school districts within our guidance. The intent of these expectations is to assure the community of the school district’s ability to safely manage the additional student body while maintaining pandemic health measures,” Velazquez explained. “We feel confident in the plans these school districts have developed.”
Once completed, the recommended criteria for further phasing in of elementary grades may include, but may not be limited to, case data evaluation at the district level, ability to maintain contact tracing with a larger student body, a minimum of two-week evaluation periods in-between the phasing in of each grade, and appropriate resources to keep up cleaning and sanitizing requirements. Schools must also be prepared to pause phasing in additional grades at any time if data supports that need.
Velazquez stated in-person learning addresses needs for social and emotional learning and skill development, concerns of child safety, and academic inequities among those with limited access to technology – all needs that regular interaction with school employees identify.
“The collective responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 remains,” Velazquez said. “If we want to move forward with in-person learning, we all need to work together by following the health measures and by receiving the vaccine when it’s available to you.”