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Schools in Kittitas County are waiting for Gov. Jay Inslee to give them instructions on how to handle the coronavirus pandemic when students return in the fall. This topic was brought up by Ellensburg School District Superintendent Jinger Haberer during the district’s Board of Directors meeting Wednesday night.

“I met with (Public Health Officer) Dr. (Mark) Larson and all the other superintendents in Kittitas County today, and we anticipate that the governor will, we are hoping he will make an announcement by the end of this week, and give us some more direction on what the guidelines will be for next year regarding COVID,” Haberer said in the meeting. “So, we’re just really waiting to hear from him.”

According to Haberer, the guidelines are formed by a collaboration between the Washington State Department of Health, the governor and the Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction (OSPI). ESD will then take its instruction from OSPI, and as well as the direction of Kittitas Public Health.

The decisions regarding things like masking, vaccination requirements and social distancing will not be made by Board of Directors. Instead, the schools will have to follow the requirements but forward by the state.

“I think we have been told very clearly that it’s not our choice. We all may have some strong opinions about masks moving forward, so I think it might be wise for the board to at some point recognize what we don’t control, and work to educate the community,” Board Chair Jason White said. “In some ways it doesn’t even matter what we think. I know I have a really strong opinion, but it doesn’t matter right? We as a board are united in this and we have to follow our state guidelines and we have to follow the law.”

White anticipates this will continue to be a “hot topic” before fall quarter begins on Sept. 8.

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