OLYMPIA – Washington Sen. Brad Hawkins (R-East Wenatchee) is urging school districts throughout the state to preserve what’s left of the current 180-day school year by switching spring and summer breaks.
Hawkins, the ranking Republican on the Senate Education Committee, said that with very few school districts back to normal operations, he believes they should change their one-week spring break with their 10 to 12 week summer break. He said that would allow districts to move on to full in-person summer instruction prior to a 2021-22 school year that he hopes will be normal.
“I am a big proponent of reimagining the school calendar in the long term, especially as our state prepares to pull out of this pandemic,” he said. This year is unique and also presents an opportunity for us to thin differently.”
In addition to being on the Senate’s Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee, Hawkins is a former school board member and the father of two public school students.
Hawkins said with the swap, school staff will be vaccinated, COVID rates will likely have fallen, and all districts could offer full in-person instruction. In addition he said that will give the districts plenty of time to prepare for summer instruction.
“The state provides districts full flexibility on how they spread their 180 instruction days,” Hawkins said. “Most school districts would agree that in-person instruction is ideal. With the state taking so long for school employee vaccinations and few districts (are) seemingly eager to resume their full operations, it makes sense to me to cut those losses, swap those breaks, and move ahead.”
Hawkins acknowledged that a mid-year school calendar change is not without challenges, including gaining support from unions and local bargaining groups. He said some of the funds allocated for K-12 education assistance due to COVID-19 could offset those challenges.
“We need to figure something out,” Hawkins said. “Our students and families deserve it.”