Washington state school district plans on bringing students back to classrooms

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A Puget Sound area school district is planning on reopening its classrooms for onsite instruction before Halloween, according to a plan released Tuesday evening.

First and second graders at Bellevue School District return to classes for in-person instruction starting on October 26, five days a week, the district announced.

Kindergartners return to regular classes full-time at Bellevue on November 2.

Bellevue fifth graders will attend in-person classes for a maximum of three days a week beginning on November 9.

Under the plan, Bellevue students from the sixth through the 12th grades will be taught in-person once a week.

Parents may still opt their children out of in-person classes for online learning courses, but the district stresses that upticks on COVID-19 infections could put its plans on hold at any time.

The Bellevue School District is the largest in the region to be moving forward with a hybrid learning model which includes social distancing and timed entries.

Under health guidelines laid out by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, school districts are recommended, but not required, to hold classes

Schools are encouraged to resume normal classes if their corresponding counties fall below the highest infection bracket. High-risk counties with more than 75 cases per 100,000 people are recommended to resort to remote learning only.

Since Wednesday, King County has reported about 53 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the past two straight weeks. That places it in the moderate risk bracket, making it eligible for hybrid learning models.

Information on Washington school districts’ reopening plans has varied wildly since this summer.

The Northshore School District’s website posts regular reopening updates, with charts comparing how their plan compares with state guidelines in addition to King and Snohomish County infection rates.

Bellevue has listed what phase of reopening King County is in on the front page of its website.

Others like the Kent and Seattle School Districts highlight their remote learning models with no clear data on case rates or background on school board proposals. Seattle’s most recent COVID-19 update is from July 22.

The Bellevue School District will host a town hall for families on October 15 and will hold a final vote on its reopening plan on October 20.

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