SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — Parents can take a deep sigh of relief because schools will remain relatively the same if Spokane County gets moved back to Phase 2, according to a district leader.
Community members said they were worried about passing Governor Jay Inslee's Road to Recovery guidelines. The state will evaluate Washington counties Monday, and then on Tuesday they'll announce which counties are moving back. Right now, Spokane County is failing to meet two key metrics in the governor's plan to keep us in Phase 3.
This comes just as many students who finally got back into in-person learning. Superintendent of NorthEast Washington Educational Service District 101 Dr. Michael Dunn wanted to assure parents that most aspects of school "will not change."
"Last year, kids didn't have sports, they didn't have prom, they didn't graduate — they had drive thru graduations," Dunn said. "My heart goes out to young people and how their school lives have been disrupted."
The class of 2021 was robbed of even more of the high school experience. Dunn said he doesn't want any more students to miss out on these life events.
"The requirements that are associated with Phase 2 on the Road to Recovery plan will not change what is currently happening in schools," he added.
The number of students in school and the three ft. distancing rule will not be impacted by Spokane County potentially moving backwards, he said. The biggest question parents have is about graduation, he confirmed.
Graduation ceremonies and in-person learning are here to stay.
"It is my understanding that the graduation guidance that was provided earlier won't be impacted either as a result of Phase 2," he said.
Unfortunately, athletics will take a hit.
"The impact will be more in extracurricular area, in terms of some of the sports that can or can't happen in Phase 2 in an indoor setting," he said. "Some will be able to continue. There are just some of the indoor ones that if we do have to roll back to Phase 2, may be impacted in terms of how those can be done."
Basketball and wrestling are just starting their seasons, after being postponed for months. They are a two of the high contact sports that will no longer be able to scrimmage, train or practice with other teams inside in Phase 2. All tournaments for high contact and moderate contact sports will be cancelled in Phase 2. For all indoor sports the occupancy of the facility may not exceed 25% of the fire code occupancy rating, or 200 people max, whichever is less. Outdoor training, practices and competitions are allowed outdoors for low, moderate and high contact sports. There is a max of 200 people allowed at competitions, including spectators.
Dunn said this has obviously disappointed many student athletes, parents and community members — but until everyone gets Spokane County's metrics under control, all must keep following the rules so we can get some normalcy back.
"It does appear that our county will be one of the counties to roll back," he said. "We're still in the midst of a pandemic, so there's still lots of challenges ahead for us."
It is going to be extremely difficult for Spokane County to stay in Phase 3. As of right now, Interim Health officer Doctor Frank Velazquez said we will not be meeting two of the Governor's metrics if nothing changes between now and Monday.
To stay in Phase 3, Spokane County needs to pass at least one of the following metrics. Either the County needs to have fewer than 200 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over a two-week span, or fewer than 5 COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 people over a one-week span.
What gives Dunn hope is a report from the Washington State Department of Health that said as of right now, K-12 schools are seeing fairly low COVID-19 transmission rates. He said that if the rates increase, the health district and local schools may need to reevaluate their in-school guidelines.