VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) - The Washington State Department of Health made a big announcement for next school year, saying all K-12 public and private schools should prepare for full-time in-person instruction come fall.

"I'm going Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday," said Vancouver third grader Emma Lane, who is doing hybrid learning at Marshall Elementary and enjoys the in-person time. "I like it, it's more fun. Sitting there just having my eyes on the screen two hours every Wednesday is just really hard."

She and her mom Ashley Davidson are both looking forward to the fall.

For 2021-2022, the state Department of Health is asking schools to plan for full-time in-person learning with health precautions for all interested students while still providing a remote option for families who need that.

"I'm excited, definitely excited," Emma said.

"I think it’s a good thing," Davidson said. "I think kids need it, I think they're missing out on so many things right now and it's been really unfortunate I mean I understand the certain things we’ve had to do but it will feel a lot better to get more to a normalcy."

State health officials say plans should include face coverings, promoting hand washing, ventilation, cleaning and infection control, including ways to respond to cases and contact trace.

But when it comes to physical distancing, the state is asking schools for two options -- one plan with 3 feet of distancing in classrooms and 6 feet elsewhere and another plan without a physical distancing requirement.

"We are pretty far away from the school year in terms of pandemic time so we’re asking schools to have both of those plans and we will keep them posted over the summer as we monitor the science and course of disease and vaccine updates in our state," Department of Health Deputy Secretary Lacy Fehrenbach said.

Testing and vaccinations will be recommended but not required.

Davidson said she already feels safe having Emma at school more and thinks the kids are doing well adhering to all the rules.

"I think it's been really drilled into them and because they want to go back to their normal lives they're willing to do all these things just to not be at home so I feel comfortable," Davidson said.

The state's full guidance can be viewed here. They’ll be including the new Pfizer vaccination information for the 12 to 15 age group.

Vancouver Public Schools said it will be following local and state guidelines, they’re still in the early stages of planning but should know more next week.

Copyright 2021 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. 


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