Inslee announces statewide school closures, expansion of limits on large gatherings
In order to further slow the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Jay Inslee announced his intention to sign several executive orders today to expand statewide closures of schools, limit large gatherings and expand protocols for adult family homes.
Inslee made the announcement at the state Capitol in a larger venue than normal to practice social distancing measures.
Statewide closure of all K-12 schools
Inslee expanded his order to close all K-12 public and private schools. Every district throughout the state of Washington will close for the next six weeks.
Schools will close from 12:01 AM Tuesday, March 17 through 12:00 PM Friday, April 24. The timing will coincide with spring break for most Washington school districts.
Under this order, schools must close and end classes by end of day this Monday. The first possible weekday back will be April 27.
On Thursday, Inslee announced closures in King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties.
“Just as with King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties, there are critical services our schools provide that will need to continue during closures,” Inslee said. “That includes nutrition and child care. This will need to be addressed throughout the state of Washington. I urge labor and management to work together in the best interest of kids. This is not a vacation, work may look different but the expectation is that school employees will still be working.”
Statewide activity restrictions for higher education and training
Inslee also announced activity restrictions for all statewide public and private universities, colleges, community colleges and technical schools, private career schools and apprenticeship training programs.
The impacted dates for these activity restrictions will be Tuesday, March 17 through Friday, April 24.
Notably, school labs and clinics may continue if social distancing is imposed and a person is designated to ensure implementation, or if appropriate clinical protocols are followed. The continued core functions of these higher education institutions including administration, safety, dorms, food service, research and medical clinics are not impacted by the proclamation.
Statewide ban on large gatherings
Inslee also announced two further executive orders expanding on orders from earlier this week. The first extends the ban on events of 250 or larger beyond the Puget Sound region to the entire state.
The events that are prohibited are gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational activities including, but not limited to, community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based, or sporting events; parades; concerts; festivals; conventions; fundraisers; and similar activities.
Expansion of protocols and restrictions to protect older adults
On Tuesday, Inslee enacted restrictions on visitors and protocols to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Today, the governor expanded this order to include adult family homes and waived certain statutory requirements for long-term care workers.
“I am mindful that long-term care workers, particularly those taking necessary classes and testing right now, are also facing disruptions as a result of the virus. Long-term care workers are required to complete training. However, I intend to waive specific statutes requiring strict compliance with training testing dates through April 9.”
For the latest COVID-19 health information, statistics, and guidance, visit the Washington State Department of Health website.
For all other state resources relates to COVID-19, visit the governor’s coronavirus page.