PASCO, Wash.-- The Pasco School District held an emergency board meeting Friday evening in response to Gov. Jay Inslee's announcement that he was ordering all schools in the state to close no later than Tuesday, March 17.

Schools in Pasco will be open on Monday, March 16, with their regular schedules. The closure begins Tuesday, March 17, and will continue through Friday, April 24. However, Superintendent Michelle Whitney said if parents choose not to send their children to school on Monday, that would be an excused absence.

When students leave for the day on Monday, they'll be able to take along any of their personal belongings, along with educational and other materials that teachers may choose to send with students.

"Our reasoning for keeping schools open on Monday was to allow for at least a weekday of preparation for families, since this news happened so quickly," Whitney said during Friday's meeting. School buildings and facilities will be closed to students, faculty, and staff starting March 17.

Whitney said teachers also hope to be able to send some educational resources home with students on Monday. The district wants to make sure that all secondary students have personal devices that allow them to access online learning options if they become available during the closure.

The district was scheduled to hold parent-teacher conferences for middle and elementary school students during the week of March 16, but those have been cancelled. However, in the announcement Gov. Inslee made on Friday, he indicated that school employees are expected to continue to work, but that work might look different since classes will not be in session.

Alternative food services will be provided for students starting Tuesday, with bagged breakfast and lunch available for pick up at each school. Eventually, meals may be delivered to bus stops or other drop-off locations, but the district is working to finalize those details. For now, there are no designated school boundaries, so students can get meals from the school closest to them, even if it isn't the school they attend. 

Meals are available for all students, regardless of whether they qualify for free or reduced lunch. Breakfast will likely consist of a cereal bar and juice, with lunches containing sandwiches, chips, fruit, and milk.

The district is also working with the Boys and Girls Club of Benton and Franklin Counties to provide childcare, particularly for the children of first responders and health care workers, as well as special needs and homeless students.

According to guidance from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, schools will have to make up some of the missed days of learning, but the school year cannot extend beyond June 19, 2020. Spring state testing requirements have been dropped for districts as well.

The Pasco School District will provide additional information for families through emails, the district website, the PSD smart phone app, and on its social media pages

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