Closing schools during a pandemic is a complicated decision, but so is opening them back up to students and staff. And while the state has yet to decide when and how K-12 schools can bring people back to campuses, state leaders are looking at key considerations for next school year.
Strict on health and safety but flexible with curriculum. That's how Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick described guidance the state is drafting for schools whenever the governor says they can reopen.
"We know for some of the health issues you need really tight guidance because you are not health experts. But for the curriculum and instruction, it is so localized so you needed some flexibility there," she said in a webinar addressing school leaders this week.
The State Department of Education has created a re-entry advisory group to help officials better understand the widespread and complicated topics schools must consider as they reopen. The group includes educators and school workers of all kinds from around the state, from safety and health measures to school finance and transportation.
And schools are eager for more clarity about the fall as they deal with other issues heading into the summer months. Schools are grappling with questions like how to implement new education laws going into effect this summer, create class schedules aligned with social distancing rules, and provide adaptable learning materials for students still in classes and for summer school kids.
And while McCormick says there's no definitive answer right now for questions about how school re-entry will work in the fall, she made a point to remind schools that student handbooks need to be "buttoned down" about new procedures and expectations.