King County health officer: Still a chance schools could resume in person in 2020

Aug 31, 2020, 12:51 PM
coronavirus school closures, woodmoor elementary, schools...
Woodmoor Elementary School. (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

With schools resuming virtually in September, is there a chance students would return to class in person by the end of 2020? Seattle-King County Public Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin weighed in on KIRO Radio’s COVID-19 podcast with some insight into what that timeline might look like.

“I think the Washington state guidelines are reasonable guidelines for when we should consider bringing kids back for in-person learning,” Dr. Duchin said.

Under the state’s guidelines, the benchmark to meet is under 75 cases per every 100,00 people over a 14-day period for bringing back kids in “suffering the greatest amount of educational, behavioral, and medical consequences from being out of school.”

“So the youngest learners, kids who have special needs, children who need psychological support and other counseling and /or physical therapy at school,” Duchin described. “Starting with those young kids and then increasing the ages as possible if it remains safe and the school’s able to operate would be a reasonable thing to do.”

Districts’ plans for reopening schools across Western Washington

The ability to bring back those students will vary county to county based on how regions are coping with their respective COVID-19 outbreaks. That means “doing the right thing together as a community” and avoiding close contact with others, poorly-ventilated indoor space, and wearing masks “constantly.”

“We need to take small steps, evaluate, reassess, readjust if necessary, and move forward if we’re able to safely,” Duchin advised.

In King County, that will have most students attending classes virtually in September. As for whether that situation could move in a positive direction before the end of the year.

“I think so,” Duchin predicted.

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
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King County health officer: Still a chance schools could resume in person in 2020