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“The Impact”: Fall School Plan, Sports Betting Update

Mike McClanahan profile by Mike McClanahan

“The Impact”: Fall School Plan, Sports Betting Update

Back to School in Person

This fall students will be back in their desks at school in K-12 districts across the state.

 “It’s 100%, five-day-a-week, full-time, in person learning for any and all families who want it, in every district across the state, period,” said State Superintendent Chris Reykdal.

With the recent Emergency Use Authorization of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 12 and up, the CDC guidance that fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks, and the number of state colleges requiring vaccination for returning students – there is a lot of new information to sort through.

Here’s the plan for public schools this fall, according to State Superintendent Reykdal: vaccination is optional, masks are not.

  • All public K-12 schools will be required to offer full in-person learning this fall.
  • K-12 schools will not require students or teachers to get the COVID vaccine before returning to school.
  • Masks will be required for students and teachers.
  • Social distancing guidelines (3 feet of separation in classrooms, 6 feet everywhere else) are just recommendations.
  • Schools may choose to provide distance learning or hybrid learning options, but they will not be required to do that.

Reykdal says the fall plan is based on guidance from the Washington State Department of Health which could change if the state experiences a spike in cases from a vaccine resistant variant.

Is there a rock solid formula so parents know, if this happens, if we see this, then it will trigger school closures?

 “No. There isn’t enough science behind that I don’t believe. It would be so specific to the communities and it will be very specific to sort of the geography of where folks are and all of that is driven by our state department of health. So they will continue to make public health decisions which we will continue to follow. They’ve given us no indication though that they see a risk to this fall, assuming though that we make progress, people vaccinate as much as they can and follow our protocol,” said Reykdal.

What’s the plan for students who fell behind over the course of the pandemic and are there any plans to set students on two different tracks or implement special tutoring?

“Remediation is not a good idea. Isolating students from their peers and trying to do something  in one subject is less robust than building in those catch ups within their class. In other words the fourth graders will become fifth graders and there may be some intensive supports for them, some of them, but you will not see mass scale students being withheld. They can always choose that if they want to, but that’s not typically a very good practice.  Our districts have individual plans they owe to us on June 1st about recovery and acceleration of learning, for students they identify they have federal and state dollars now and they’ll implement that in the spring, the summer, and into the next two years. So, I think it will go exceedingly well, but it’s definitely going to take some students longer than others,” said Reykdal.

Hear the rest of the interview here.

Sports Betting

Legal sports betting could soon be a reality at tribal casinos around the state. Fifteen of Washington’s 29 federally recognized tribes  are in the process of amending gaming compacts to add sports wagering to the list of approved games of chance.

It’s the latest development stemming from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that opened the door for legal sports betting outside Las Vegas, Nevada for the first time in decades. Legislation to allow it in the Evergreen State was proposed in 2019, and approved in 2020.

There was a push to create a legal framework for sports betting in different types of establishments, including card rooms. Ultimately, the state legislature restricted sports wagering to facilities owned by Washington tribes with gaming compacts.

That wasn’t a green light to start taking bets on sporting events. Gaming compacts can only be modified with approval of the state gambling commission, the governor, the tribal chair, and the federal government. The Washington State Gambling Commission is set to vote on all of the tribal gaming compact amendments at the June 10th commission meeting.

According to Interim Director Tina Griffin, if the commission votes to approve the amendments, the Tribal Chair and the Governor must both sign off on the change. Then the agreements go to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland for approval, but they only become effective once they are published in the Federal Register.*

The bill approved in 2020 lays out some restrictions. Betting on minor league games will not be permitted. Placing a bet will only be allowed within the physical confines of the licensed tribal gaming facility.  Online gambling can carry a stiff penalty in Washington.

“If it’s not in compliance with the sports wagering that is authorized in these compacts on tribal lands then it is currently and it will continue to be illegal, a felony in Washington to participate in internet wagering,” said Tina Griffin, Interim Director, Washington State Gambling Commission.

Former WSGC Director David Trujillo raised concerns that making sports betting legal, even in a limited capacity, could also bring a spike in underground, black market, sports betting.

“We have, since my time with the commission, have always worked sports wagering investigations as a law enforcement agency and we’ll continue to do that.  And we’ll be increasing our efforts as well to be sure we are pushing the market to the legalized market in Washington,” said Griffin.

Will sports betting be legal in Washington state by the start of the NFL season?

“We’re very hopeful. We’ve worked very closely with the tribes to try to make that possible. Like I indicated, once the amendment is effective, which is when it is filed in the Federal Register which still has a number of steps to get to, we also have rulemaking that will begin to occur. Those rules for sports wagering are in regards to licensing and regulation of the sports wagering vendors. They’ll also be heard at our June 10th commission meeting and we hope that they become effective by the end of August. Then the tribes have a number of issues and work to do in regards to licensure of the vendors, as do we. They need to develop internal controls; they need to get equipment in place; so lots of moving parts and pieces. We’re all going to work together in hopes that we can, you know, make that possible by September 9th,” said Griffin.

*Incidentally, Secretary Haaland is the first Native American cabinet secretary in U.S. history.

Watch “The Impact” – May 19, 2021 here.

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