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News >  Education

Spokane Public Schools, following Inslee’s lead, extends closure to May 4

UPDATED: Fri., April 3, 2020

First grade teacher Gabi VandenBrink hands out bags of free food at Garfield Elementary as part of Spokane Public Schools COVID-19 food aid program on Thursday, March 19. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
First grade teacher Gabi VandenBrink hands out bags of free food at Garfield Elementary as part of Spokane Public Schools COVID-19 food aid program on Thursday, March 19. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

The school year just got even shorter following Gov. Jay Inslee’s order Thursday to extend the stay-at-home orders to May 4.

Spokane Public Schools announced Friday that it will conform to Inslee’s order, extending its own closure from April 27 through May 4.

Other districts are expected to follow suit in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That means the district’s 31,000 students will miss at least 32 days out of 90 in the second semester of the calendar year. That doesn’t count spring break, which begins next week.

Given the continuing increase in infections, Inslee’s decision wasn’t a big surprise to educators.

“We think this is going to be longer than at first expected,” Spokane Superintendent Shelley Redinger said Friday.

“We know that we need to step it up, because this is our new normal, because May 4 is getting awful close to the end of the school year,” Redinger said.

The academic year ends on June 12 in Spokane Public Schools. It’s unclear whether the State Board of Education may add instruction days onto the summer.

“We should know more next week,” Redinger said.

An increasing number of states have canceled the rest of the school year, including Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Vermont and Virginia, according to Education Week.

In a letter to families sent Friday morning, the district said, “Yesterday, Governor Inslee extended his ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order until May 4. That means our buildings are also closed until that time.”

The letter continued, “Next week, we will observe Spring Break. It’ll feel quite different than Spring Breaks of the past, but we hope that you are able to find many moments of joy and relaxation.”

The district will continue to provide grab-and-go meals at 24 sites throughout the city. Beginning Monday, parents and guardians may pick up those meals without their children present.

During spring break, the district doesn’t expect to send messages “unless there is urgent information we need to share.”

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