As school districts and colleges around the region go online-only or close, Washington state’s largest school district released a statement Friday saying it won’t be doing that: Seattle Public Schools will remain open.

The district’s reasoning, the announcement said, beyond listening to health officials, is making sure children receive the different services they need — in and out of the classroom.

“While education is our primary responsibility, public schools are also the access point to critical social services for thousands of students and families,” district spokesman Tim Robinson wrote in the statement.

“Many of our families rely on our schools and staff for basic needs, including regular meals, health care, and child care. If our schools shut down, vulnerable families are at a higher risk of being negatively impacted. Closing schools is a last resort and will be done with great care, transparency, and in partnership with Public Health.”

Considerations of equity make it harder for districts that serve more diverse student bodies to shut down in-person operations. Northshore School District announced earlier this week it would be closed through March 14, and will resume classes online Monday.

“Due to issues of equity and access, we cannot provide digital learning opportunities in lieu of in-classroom instruction,” the announcement said.

Students who are sick will be excused, and  the district is asking teachers to prepare lessons students can complete at home. It added that the district was having custodians “prioritize cleaning common and high traffic areas multiple times a day.”

For more information on SPS, you can visit the district’s coronavirus updates website. The state is tracking school closures. And we’re answering your questions about them.

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