Gov. Jay Inslee talks about schools reopening during a Tuesday news conference. (TVW)

Gov. Jay Inslee talks about schools reopening during a Tuesday news conference. (TVW)

Inslee offers school districts state-funded COVID testing

The ‘Learn to Return’ plan is intended to speed school reopenings with an added layer of confidence.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday, Feb. 16 again urged school districts to resume in-person learning with updated guidelines and a state-sponsored testing program for students and staff.

For months, public health experts have said bringing students back to the classroom — in phased reopenings, with safety measures and a hybrid schedule — has been safer than previously predicted and hasn’t caused an increase in community-wide transmission. Last week, reports from the state Department of Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention echoed that sentiment.

“We know that in-person instruction is the best way to do instruction, and we know that this can be done safely,” Inslee said during a Tuesday news conference. “This is tremendous news for our state.”

The governor then outlined his “Learn to Return” plan, which aims to accelerate in-person education by offering districts state-funded COVID testing for students and staff, through the nonprofit Health Commons Project.

Each district is assigned a consultant to develop a strategy for on-site testing. That could include only testing people experiencing COVID symptoms, or doing random asymptomatic screening.

The new tool is intended to build confidence in teachers and families, Inslee said.

Statewide, more than 60 districts have already signed up for the service.

All costs are picked up by the state Department of Health.

Some have argued that teachers should be vaccinated before they return to work, which would delay the return to in-class instruction for months.

But remote learning isn’t working for the state’s students, Inslee said, especially those experiencing poverty or who live in rural districts.

“Despite our best efforts, that has been the fact,” Inslee said. “Schools provide nutrition and many other services that kids can’t get at home. … If these students can safely return to class, we should feel a sense of urgency to answer this paramount duty to our students.”

Additionally, the federal report found that schools can safely reopen without vaccinating teachers.

Herald writer Jerry Cornfield contributed to this report.

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; jthompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @byjoeythompson.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bellevuereporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bellevuereporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Northwest

File photo/Sound Publishing
Ban on single-use plastic bags in WA begins Oct. 1

Shoppers will have the choice to pay for a reusable plastic or recycled paper bag.

Courtesy Photo, Port of Seattle
Port of Seattle to require vaccinations for employees

2,200 workers must be vaccinated by Nov. 15

Garbage at the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in Maple Valley. FILE PHOTO
Why burning our trash may not be as bad as it sounds

Understanding waste-to-energy’s financial and environmental impact in King County.

People hold up signs in protest of Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest proclamations during a Rally for Medical Freedom on Aug. 25 in Buckley. Photo by Alex Bruell/Sound Publishing
State workers get incentive to comply with vaccine mandate

An agreement between the state and their union also provides for some leeway in meeting the deadline.

This is a screenshot that shows the pursuit of a stolen vehicle Sept. 1 on Interstate 5 in King County.
VIDEO: Auburn police let suspected vehicle thief go, citing new laws

State laws passed earlier this spring require police to have probable cause to engage in a pursuit.

Juanita High School student Ria Mahon. Courtesy photo
Student brings awareness to menstrual health among Puget Sound’s homeless

When Ria Mohan, a junior of Juanita High School in Kirkland, had… Continue reading

Matt Axe, the Wildfire and Forest Resiliency Coordinator with the King Conservation District, speaks to homeowner Anita Kissee-Wilder about fire reduction strategies at her home in North Bend on Aug. 24. Photo by Conor Wilson/Valley Record.
King County braces for more wildfires in rural areas

Firefighters have already responded to a number of large fires.

t
New data dashboard tracks COVID-19 risk for unvaccinated, vaccinated people

Information compiled by Public Health – Seattle & King County

This 2019 security footage at the Cenex gas station in Black Diamond shows Anthony Chilcott on his phone before entering, and driving off with, Carl Sanders’ Ford Raptor and Monkey, his poodle, in the front seat. Courtesy photo
Oversight office releases scathing report on King County Sheriff’s Office

Report analyzes 2019 killing of Anthony Chilcott by deputies.

Close-up hand using phone in night time on street. File photo
King County Council steps closer to establishing hate crime hotline

The program is aimed at reducing the number of unreported hate crimes.

A Link light rail train travels underneath the University of Washington during testing to open the new line to Northgate. COURTESY PHOTO, Sound Transit
Northgate Link light rail testing moves into final stages

Three new north Seattle stations opening Oct. 2