Gov. Inslee: “Our experience is showing you can operate a school safely. We’re doing it all over the state of Washington today.”

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Gov. Jay Inslee

During his regular Covid-19 question and answer session with reporters at the State Capitol, Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday offered his most detailed explanations to date around the viability of safely re-opening K-12 schools for in-person/on-site instruction.

Here’s a link of that portion of the press conference. Below is a transcript (note that ellipses reflect some omitted text edited for clarity and length).

Gov. Inslee: “I believe that we can open up our schools safely now as long as we use proper hygiene and good systems. We have proven this because there’s over 100,000 pupils in the state of Washington who have been doing this safely for months now. This is not an academic exercise. All you have to do is go around the state to the schools that are doing this successfully with minimal – very minimal – in-school transmission.

And so, the fear of this is understandable but it’s not backed up by our experience, because our experience is showing you can operate a school safely. We’re doing it all over the state of Washington today. And the reason we’re doing it is because educators are extremely smart [and] very disciplined. And we have discovered ways to do this in a very safe way: spreading out the students, using masking, having cohorts, don’t allow them to mix at recess.

So the proof is in the pudding. We can do this safely today. And I believe we ought to. I’m pleased since we started our new metrics on this, we’ve had quite a few new schools that are going back to on-site learning, and I think that’s a joy both for educators and for students, and for parents, to be able to return.

….

the fear of this is understandable but it’s not backed up by our experience, because our experience is showing you can operate a school safely. We’re doing it all over the state of Washington today.

Gov. Jay Inslee

There’s no zero risk. Anytime you step out of your living room, there’s some risk. There’s no zero-risk environment. But if educators go back to the classroom, we’re not asking more than we’re asking of our grocery clerks. We’ve asked our grocery clerks to go on-site and do their job and as a result we have food to eat. We’re not asking anymore than we asked of bus drivers, who have now gone into buses and make sure we can commute. It’s not anymore than we’ve asked from our childcare providers, and they’ve stepped up to the plate. Or to firefighters. Or to police officers.

we’re not asking more [of educators] than we’re asking of our grocery clerks. We’ve asked our grocery clerks to go on-site and do their job and as a result we have food to eat….It’s not anymore than we’ve asked from our childcare providers, and they’ve stepped up to the plate.”

gov. Jay Inslee

So to the extent that communities do make a decision to go back to on-site learning, they are asking educators no more than they have asked other parts of our community that keep us safe and help our community thrive.”