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Seattle Public Schools look at preliminary plan to reopen in the fall

During a virtual school board work session, members were presented with a 50-page document that proposes a guide for reopening that was both complicated and costly.

SEATTLE — The Seattle Public School Board examined a preliminary plan to reopen schools for the 2020-21 school year— a plan that’s both complicated and costly.

“We know that there are so, so many other things that need to be worked out. We cannot start that work in earnest until we establish what the plan is going to be,” said Superintendent Denise Juneau during a specially-called work session Tuesday.

During a virtual school board work session, members were presented with a 50-page document that proposes a guide for reopening.

One model includes a hybrid of both remote and online learning. Students can expect wellness questions upon entry, social distancing and face masks on campus.

“It’s a good first start. They definitely have a template for what they could do. What will be interesting is to see. One of their biggest concerns is how many people are going to remain 100% remote and how many of them are going to come back to school,” said Melissa Westbrook, a public education advocate.

RELATED: ‘Almost impossible’ all Washington schools will meet in person in fall, Reykdal says

Implementing this plan won’t be cheap. The district is budgeting $15 million. $11 million of that will go to hiring staff, and the rest will go toward Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and cleaning equipment. Deep cleaning a school after a confirmed case will come at a projected cost of $673,000. 

“There are so many ways and in so many directions that you have to think of doing this and on a day-to-day basis,” Westbrook said.

The plan comes three weeks after the state superintended issued similar guidelines.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal said he expects schools to reopen for in-person instruction in the fall but will defer to local health departments for guidance.

“Districts need to plan for the open and then be prepared for that alternative scenario,” he said in mid-June.

SPS said it is also offering a 100% remote plan for families who aren’t comfortable sending their students back just yet. 

Both the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and SPS say they will approve a plan in August.

RELATED: Tacoma school district to cut 104 paraeducators and reduce hours for hundreds more