State will waive make-up days if schools close for coronavirus

But districts must try to find days for missed time

State will waive make-up days if schools close for coronavirus

The state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) announced Tuesday that if a district is required to or elects to close schools in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, districts should make every effort to make up missed time, including using scheduled vacation days and planned school closure days.

But if a district cannot find days available to make up time, a district can submit an application for an emergency waiver to OSPI, which said it will waive school days and instructional hours for school districts that close schools due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Kent School District closed Kentwood High School and Covington Elementary School on Monday and Tuesday because of the coronavirus and possible symptoms by a parent of a student.

“Waiver requests will be approved whether state or local health authorities order the school closed, or if the school district reasonably determines that a school closure is in the best interest of the health and safety of its students and personnel,” according to a OSPI website posting Tuesday. “Districts should feel confident in knowing that if schools are closed for an extended period of time, they will not be required to make up missed days and instructional hours beyond June 19.

“This year, we will be developing a web-based application for school closures related to COVID-19. As always, OSPI expects districts to hold off on submitting their request until they know the extent of the school closures (April and May are good months to send the application).”

State law requires that school districts offer 180 school days and make available to students enrolled in grades 1–8 at least a district-wide average 1,000 instructional hours, and a district-wide average of 1,080 instructional hours for students in grades 9–12. However, OSPI is legally authorized to continue state apportionment support for school districts that cannot fully provide the required number of school days or instructional hours due to an emergency district-wide or school closure (RCW 28A.150.290(2)).

OSPI also posted a message for districts about how to handle student absences related to the coronavirus.

“Many districts, parents, and guardians have expressed concern about student absences related to COVID-19 safety concerns,” according to OSPI. “State law requires school administrators to excuse absences due to student safety concerns as well as absences due to illness, health condition, or medical appointment (Washington Administrative Code [WAC] 392-401-020). The WAC also provides districts with the authority to define additional categories or criteria for excused absences should the need arise.

“We know that fears may be high as identified cases increase, particularly for families with loved ones living in the home who have a compromised immune system. Please exercise great caution before deciding not to excuse absences related to COVID-19 and starting the truancy process because of them.”

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