Gov. Jay Inslee has extended the closure of all schools in Washington state for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year and expects instruction to move toward a distance learning model.

An email sent to the parents of kids attending Richland High School said in part that the district acknowledges limiting social contact is crucial to slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus and is committed to ensuring health care providers have the resources to provide care.

This closure means middle and high school students in the Richland School District have lost most of their second semester in the classroom and elementary students have lost the entirety of their third trimester. This will have a significant impact on students, from course credits and student preparation for the next grade level to how staff provide services to students with unique needs.

At this time, all Columbia Basin educators are having conversations about how to move their various At-Home Learning programs to the next level so students can keep learning.

The districts will also be working with nutrition services staff and bus drivers about maintaining Student Meal Assistance programs so students continue to receive the meals they need. And maintenance and operations staff continue to work to keep the schools in top shape so they are ready for students and staff when classes resume.

Addressing this new challenge will require planning, cooperation and patience from everyone in the community, from school staff and administrators to parents and community partners. The various districts will continue to inform the community as answers to questions are determined and a path forward is charted.