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Gov. Inslee expands closures to all K-12 schools statewide

Governor Jay Inslee announced Friday that all K-12 public and private schools in Washington state must be closed for six weeks, from March 17 until at least April 24.

This announcement comes just one day after the Governor ordered all K-12 schools in King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties to be closed during the same date range.

School districts across the state were instructed by Inslee on Thursday to start preparing a contingency plan should the closure be expanded.

“A county by county approach to this epidemic is not sufficient,” Inslee said. “We need to get ahead of this wave, and we need to do it today.”

Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal, said the concern of parents has grown, the absentee rates for students and staff across the state has grown, and the lack of bus drivers still poses a challenge for school districts and students.

The expanded closures allows for statewide consistency, Reykdal said, and the decision “gives our state the ability now to operate as one unit.”

There are 1.2 million students in Washington state between public and private schools in 295 districts.

All school districts have been tasked with creating a plan for the continuation or expansion of services like nutrition and childcare. The hope is that not all students will need childcare at this time, Reykdal said, and he expects the majority of older students will be able to stay home, hopefully practicing some kind of distance learning. A subset of elementary school and young kids, Reykdal noted, will still need support.

This is a developing story.

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