School boards have just days to make decisions of unprecedented complexity — how to educate kids this fall during a renewed COVID trajectory. School starts Sept. 2, and plans must be finalized at least two weeks in advance. Whatever decisions a district makes will likely bring controversy.
Selecting virtual schooling for all students may seem the safest course of action, but its long-term impacts may be the more costly for kids, their families and society.
We are indebted to those school board members, teachers and administrators who analyze the spectrum of needs and creatively devise granular alternatives. Teachers and school staff willing to undertake face-to-face teaching, if, when and where offered, will deserve the same “hero” accolades we give doctors and nurses.
We can also thank several single parents, advised by Seattle attorney Joel Ard, who filed a lawsuit in May in Lewis County challenging Gov. Jay Inslee’s extension of the claim of emergency to impose a statewide closure of the public schools. The lawsuit contends that a statewide edict violates Washington’s constitutional “paramount duty” to make “ample provision for the education of all children within its borders.”
The families bringing the suit have kids with conditions making virtual learning impractical. Their legal arguments are strong, and, possibly in recognition, Inslee has instituted a district-by-district approach to school opening. Ard has stated that the suit will be reopened if Inslee elects a statewide school policy.