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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Education

Rising COVID-19 cases could mean older students have to wait to return to SPS classrooms

UPDATED: Fri., April 23, 2021

The Spokane Public Schools building.   (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)
The Spokane Public Schools building.  (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)

While Spokane Public Schools is poised to bring back fifth- and sixth-graders next week, it’s unclear whether older students will be able to do the same this school year as COVID-19 cases in the area rise again.

Superintendent Adam Swinyard told the school board on Wednesday night that fifth- and sixth-graders will be in-person full time beginning Wednesday following an all-virtual day Tuesday to allow staff to prepare “to manage the logistics of all those students.”

“Teachers will utilize that time to make sure that all the preparations have been finalized and checked over to ensure we have a safe return that follows all the required guidelines from the Department of Health,” Swinyard said.

Those same guidelines are preventing the return of grades 7 through 12 to full-time instruction if the 14-day case coronavirus count is above 200 per 100,000 population.

As of Thursday, Spokane County’s rate was 273.8 cases per 100,000.

In areas with high community transmission, the state says middle and high schools that operate by having students attend multiple classes during the day should use 6 feet of physical distance between students. Those standards are impossible to meet if all secondary students are in buildings.

Current guidelines allow 3 feet of social distancing in the classroom setting.

However, the standard is 6 feet for the following circumstances: between staff in the school building and between adults and students; in common areas; during lunch when students are eating; and during activities that require greater exhalation.

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