Gov. Jay Inslee held a media event on Thursday announcing new restrictions for public gatherings in Washington due to an increase in the number of coronavirus cases.
During that press conference he fielded an important question from King-5’s Drew Mikkelsen about schools re-opening. Inslee’s response touched on special education and why – in his view – it makes sense for districts to provide in-person instruction for students with disabilities, given their unique needs and difficulty accessing learning remotely.
Here’s the question and portions of Inslee’s response (video link to full answer is below).
Question (Drew Mikkelsen): Do you have confidence that schools can make campuses safe for re-opening, whether it would be this week or in September, and if you had school-aged children would you feel comfortable sending them back to a school anytime soon?
Answer (Gov. Inslee): “I’m confident that the local districts are really exploring all the options to do this in a safe way. I think there is a possibility they can do that, particularly in this hybrid model. …So I would not rule out the ability to have some type of onsite education. …
I think the districts are really exercising thoughtfulness and creativity. I’ve seen some things where people have stretched to do things differently. …
Obviously improving remote learning opportunities are really important. … But we have to realize remote learning is not always totally equitable. Children without great broadband access, children with disabilities, it’s much more difficult for them.
One of the things that I talked to one district the other day about is to have children with special education needs be in the classroom five days a week so that they would not be jeopardized by having to go remote. That sort of made sense to me. I just want to tip my hat to the districts trying to work through these difficult challenges.“
You can watch Governor Inslee’s complete response to the question at this link from TVW.org, where he also addresses more broadly the topic of re-opening schools.
Note: Gov. Inslee did not say which school district was considering this option.