As we enter the colder months, COVID-19 cases are on the rise. Many students across our region continue to learn remotely, with some limited in-person instruction. Remember to take simple and important steps to stop the spread of the virus, and help us to get more students in school safely. Wear a mask, maintain physical distance and wash hands frequently.
Bringing students back into schools
School districts across Washington State have developed and are implementing plans to bring kids back into classrooms whenever possible. In fact, many already have small groups of students attending school in person on a staggered schedule. Districts are following strict health and safety criteria and guidance in the “decision tree” framework. This guidance was updated this winter based on emerging data about COVID transmission (or lack thereof when mitigation measures are in place) in schools.
DOH’s updated “decision tree” framework offers metrics based on three COVID-19 activity levels:
High: >350 cases per 100,000 in 14 days with test positivity > 10%
At this level, DOH recommends to phase in in-person learning in groups of 15 or fewer students for pre-K through grade 5 and those with highest needs. Priority should be given to Pre-K through grade 3, and students in any grade with disabilities, students living homeless, or those farthest from educational justice. If schools can demonstrate the ability to limit transmission in the school environment, add grades 4-5. Most in-person extra-curricular activities should be canceled or postponed except those allowed under Safe Start and Governor’s proclamations on COVID-19.
Moderate: 50–350 cases per 100,000 in 14 days with test positivity at 5-10%
At this level, DOH recommends to phase in in-person learning as described above, with gradual expansion to middle school, beginning with elementary students (pre-K -5). If schools can demonstrate the ability to limit transmission in the school environment, high school students can return when case rates are below about 200 cases per 100K in 14 days. Extra-curricular activities must follow K-12, applicable Safe Start protocols and Governor’s proclamations on COVID-19.
Low: Below 50 cases per 100,000 in 14 days with test positivity < 5%
At this level, DOH recommends full-time in-person learning for all students. Extra-curricular activities must follow K-12, applicable Safe Start protocols and Governor’s proclamations on COVID-19.
Using the decision tree framework, many schools in Washington have brought students back into schools in one or a combination of:
- In-person education in small groups with appropriate physical distancing and masks
- Small-group in-person education and remote learning
- Enhanced remote learning
Individual school district reopening plans vary based on their size and needs. Be sure to check with your school district for specific plans.
School Reopening Data
Data provided by OSPI:
Facts about Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Free Wi-Fi Map
In response to the impact of COVID-19, drive-in Wi-Fi hotspots provide free, temporary emergency internet access for Washingtonians who don’t have broadband service at their homes. Commerce has a Wi-Fi mapping tool on its website.
Washington 211 COVID-19 Call Center
Do you need information or answers to your questions and concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)? You can call 1-800-525-0127 or text 211-211 for help. You can also text the word “Coronavirus” to 211-211 to receive information and updates on your phone wherever you are. You will receive links to the latest information on COVID-19, including county-level updates, and resources for families, businesses, students, and more.
Do you need support due to stress from COVID-19?
Call Washington Listens, a line that provides nonclinical support to people experiencing elevated stress due to COVID-19. People who call Washington Listens will speak to a support specialist and receive information and connection to community resources in their area. The program is anonymous and no identifying information is maintained. People who staff Washington Listens will receive basic training needed to provide support to individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. To reach Washington Listens, call 1-833-681-0211. Read the Washington Listens fact sheet.
Wearing a face covering is difficult, especially for youngsters, but it is an important health precaution. Wearing a face covering plus washing your hands and maintaining physical distancing will help us to be able to return students to the classroom sooner. Properly wearing a mask is easy. Wash your hands before putting on the mask. Be sure it covers the nose and mouth and is secured under the chin. Make sure you can breathe easily and if breathing becomes hard, the mask should be easy to remove. Masks should be worn by kids over age two.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for COVID-19 and the best prevention is to avoid being exposed to the virus in the first place.