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Inslee asks districts to plan for possible closures

Governor Inslee

On Wednesday, in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Governor Jay Inslee asked school districts around the state of Washington to prepare for potential closures.

The Governor's statement prompted the following letter to school families and community members from Hockinson School District Superintendent, Steve Marshall:

Dear Hockinson Community,

Earlier today, in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Governor Inslee announced a ban on large scale public events (more than 250 people) in the Seattle area. He also asked school districts across the state to prepare for potential closures. As of late this afternoon, several districts in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties have followed the lead of Seattle Public Schools and announced plans to close.

While most districts in our state remain open, I know this news raises many questions for Hockinson schools and other districts in our area. Although there are no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Clark County, our district is in the process of reviewing school events and activities and developing contingency plans in case things change. I have been in contact with other local superintendents and they are doing the same.

Our schools serve many functions in our community that stretch well beyond the classroom. For instance, they help meet student interests through extracurricular programs as well as meet many of our students’ basic needs, like daily nutrition. Schools also support families by providing a safe place for students while parents are at work. 

We want to continue to support HSD families by keeping our schools open as long as they are safe for staff and students. However, that does not mean changes are out of the question.  We are prepared to adopt “social distancing” practices as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This could mean school events might be canceled or scaled back to minimize exposure.  

We are also prepared, if schools are closed, to address a range of impacts including meal service at specific locations throughout the district. Due to our limited number of electronic devices and inequitable connectivity in homes, we would not be able to offer online learning opportunities for students. That said, HSD families could count on our schools to provide students with print materials and online educational resources for home study. We would also do our best to support students in unique, partner programs like Advanced Placement and Running Start, and assist them with things like transcripts and letters of recommendation.

I hope we do not have to enact any of these contingencies, but in situations like this it is essential to be prepared. While we cannot always control things like weather or disease, we do have control over our response. We will continue our commitment to disinfect our schools and reinforce good hygiene with our students. We ask that you continue to partner with us in keeping our students safe. To help reduce the risk of illness in our schools, we ask that if your student is showing signs of a respiratory virus (fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath) that you keep them at home until they have been free of symptoms for at least 72 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication. 

I know that this is an evolving situation, and recommendations from state officials and health authorities are changing rapidly. Our district will continue to keep you updated with new developments. In the meantime, please continue to take care of yourself and your family.

Thank you -

Steve Marshall
Hockinson School District

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