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Governor Visits Spokane Urging Schools Return To In-Person Learning

Rebecca White/SPR

Washington Governor Jay Inslee is urging schools to return to in-person instruction as soon as it is safe for them to do so. Inslee made the point during a visit to a Spokane school on Tuesday.

Inslee met with students and teachers at Stevens Elementary, and participated in a roundtable with Spokane Public School District staff and city officials.

He said other schools across the state should be looking at Spokane as an example.

“This can be done safely if we work together," Inslee said. "We can figure out a way to have our children wear masks and distance. We can figure out a way to have hybrid systems. The way we know we can get that done with such compelling confidence is its being done all over the state of Washington.”

Spokane Public Schools has been slowly transitioning students back into the classroom a few grades at a time. Most most elementary school students are already back in school. Middle and high school students are set to resume in person on a hybrid schedule March 1.

Inslee also addressed concerns about teacher vaccines during his visit, saying he does believe teachers should be vaccinated as soon as possible. He said the state needs to immunize those who are mostly likely to die from an infection first, and then focus on front line and essential workers.

“Those groups of essential workers are prioritized, and we need to get through the older, more vulnerable population first – those teachers’ parents and grandparents, we’ve got to get those people first," he said.

Inslee has visited several schools across the state in the last few weeks in an effort to encourage in-person learning. The push to re-open schools dovetails with a COVID relief bill he signed Friday which includes $716 million to fund that effort and help students catch up from months of lost academic progress.

As a school that has a plan to resume in person instruction, Spokane will receive a portion of those funds.

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