Inslee says he’ll allow at-school education for students with learning challenges

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During his announcement Monday that Washington schools will remained closed for the remainder of the school year, Gov. Jay Inslee at the same time encouraged school districts to reopen classrooms for students with learning challenges.

Those include students with disabilities and those learning English as a second language, he said

Both Wenatchee and Eastmont school districts said this morning they are not currently offering such on-site education and are seeking clarification from the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction before deciding if, how and when they could comply with Inslee’s request.

“We are currently discussing the directive from the state superintendent and evaluating the implications that a shift back to providing limited on-site instruction brings,” said Diana Haglund, communications director with the Wenatchee School District. “This information is still very new and we are working with our school leaders to assess what this looks like for our schools.”

While stopping short of mandating on-site education for some students, Inslee did say such accommodations should be made for students who have “very severe challenges.”

“We know closing schools also presents challenges in the need for equity in education. Not only because of Internet connectivity issues (but also) students learning English as a second language and students with disabilities and other vulnerable students,” Inslee said. “We know this is a challenging time for their learning. So we are addressing this by allowing limited school activity for those students in school buildings that really follow social distancing guidelines, similar to the Department of Health guidelines for child care. And I’m asking schools and community leaders to help us in ensuring access for these students.”

Eastmont Superintendent Garn Christensen also said more details are needed on how this could be accomplished.

“We are only providing remote learning opportunities at this time,” Christensen said. “We anticipate further clarification on what this might look (like) and when it might be possible given current social distancing and PPE (personal protective equipment) requirements.”