Gov. Jay Inslee during a news conference Wednesday encouraged that school districts plan for online-only education this fall.
Counties with high concentrations of COVID-19 cases, including Skagit County, should aim to go fully online with the exception of students with disabilities or other special needs, he said.
Inslee classified high concentrations as 75 or more cases per 100,000 county residents over the previous 14 days. According to the most current state data, Skagit County is at 93.7 cases per 100,000.
All sports and other in-person extracurricular activities should also be canceled, he said.
Counties with between 25 and 75 cases per 100,000 residents should still hold remote learning for middle and high school students, but should consider in-person education for elementary school students, Inslee said.
Where there are fewer than 25 cases per 100,000, he said districts should consider in-person learning for elementary schoolers, and have middle and high schoolers split their time between home and school.
Only five counties statewide have below 25 cases per 100,000, he said.
Inslee encouraged state residents to follow public health guidelines, wear masks and maintain 6 feet of distance from others, saying full-time in-person education shouldn’t happen until the spread of the virus is contained.
Regardless of whether schools choose to follow these guidelines, Inslee said they must still require masks and social distancing, per requirements issued previously.
Inslee said he chose to issue recommendations — rather than mandates — in an effort to respect the authority of superintendents and school boards, which are statutorily responsible for making education decisions for their students.
Guidelines also allow for flexibility, he said. If a county experiences an outbreak centralized in a single location, it shouldn’t necessarily impact policy for an entire school district.