Republican leaders say endorsement of 3-foot spacing would help classrooms reopen

OLYMPIA… The state Legislature’s top Republican leaders today said a gubernatorial endorsement of 3-foot spacing for classrooms would help Washington schools comply with Gov. Jay Inslee’s March 15 emergency proclamation calling for at least a partial return to regular classroom instruction.

Senate Republican Leader John Braun and House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox noted the possibility that federal public-health officials will update guidance that currently calls for six feet between students.

“We’re hearing from school districts that the six-foot spacing of students is the largest hurdle to reopening classrooms. The director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention essentially agreed when speaking to members of Congress yesterday. She also noted how Massachusetts has seen success with three-foot spacing, when combined with proper face covering and hygiene.

“Our state’s school districts have one month from tomorrow to meet the in-person requirements handed down by the governor Monday. If the governor wants them to be successful, he shouldn’t wait to see if the CDC updates its guidance, as the director suggested may happen – he can simply endorse the three-foot spacing himself and take that issue off the board. For some districts it could mean the difference between meeting his April 19 deadline and failing.

“The children limited to remote instruction have been ready for a long time to see their teachers in person. Families need for their students to receive the best possible form of instruction. Students who have been allowed back on campus have shown they can follow established safety protocols. For many months, Republicans have trusted that schools can resume in-person instruction safely. Now that the governor has also reached that conclusion, through his emergency proclamation, let’s not allow the difference between six feet and three feet to keep students from finally walking back into classrooms.”