from the State Board website’s Private Schools page August 4, 2020


Public and private schools in Washington are developing plans for a safe return to school this fall so they can deliver the best possible educational experience to their students.  All schools will follow safety guidelines of official state and local health agencies. While following the same guidance, each school and community is different so schools may make different decisions on opening and on how to teach and interact with students.

*Find information and resources about COVID-19 in the SBE news section.
**Download the new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document created for Private Schools.
***Get updates about COVID-19 from the Washington Federation of Independent Schools.

Please comply with local health department, Department of Health, and Governor Inslee’s school closures. Receiving information about the details of the closure is something you should seek from your school and from the relevant authority for the closure.

Due to school closures for COVID-19, many private schools are concerned that they will not be able to meet the current law that states that the minimum school year for instructional purposes for private schools is at least a school-wide annual average of 1,000 instructional hours for students enrolled in grades 1-12 or 180 school days. Meeting either the hours requirement or the days requirement is acceptable. The State Board of Education has adopted rules that allow private schools emergency waiver authority for credit unit graduation requirements and has removed the remaining time requirements for the school year as measured by either hours or days. The emergency rules also indicate that the Board will allow private schools to operate online-only education for up to half of the 2020-2021 school year if the community deems it necessary for safety.

There is no established policy on how private online education towards hours or days is counted. Because state law is silent on the issue, it is up to the local schools to determine how they will calculate hours or days for online private education. There is no statewide definition of a high school credit based on time. In public schools, schools should assure that learning standards are being met for a credit to be offered. Private schools are not prescribed to the Washington State Learning Standards.

More than 500 private school operate in Washington, serving over 80,000 students. Private schools must be annually approved by the State Board of Education. A private school is a nonpublic school that conducts a program of kindergarten and at least grade one, or a program of any or all grades one through twelve. Private schools must be approved by the State Board of Education as offering a program that ensures a sufficient basic education to meet usual graduation requirements and that meets reasonable standards for the health and safety of private school students.