Thankfully, COVID-19 case counts continue to decline in our state, local community and SVSD schools. They are currently at the lowest levels we’ve seen since the fall. As a result, the Department of Health (DoH) is easing safety requirements, but still cautioning everyone to watch for COVID symptoms and do what they can to stop the spread (or resurgence) of the disease.
Department of Health’s newly-released Updated Requirements and Guidance to Mitigate COVID-19 Transmission for K-12 schools, child care and early learning, goes into effect starting March 12. This date coincides with Governor Inslee’s announcement to lift the indoor masking mandate at schools. The lift of the mandate means that masks are also no longer required on school buses.
Here is a quick summary of mitigation steps that will STILL BE REQUIREDby the Department of Health in schools:
· Staying home when sick (whether suspecting COVID or not);
· At-home isolation of students and staff who have COVID-19 symptoms or test positive;
· Isolation/care rooms with good ventilation, where students can wait for their ride home;
· Wearing masks in all health and isolation rooms;
· Ensuring symptomatic and exposed staff and students have access to COVID-19 tests;
· Direct notifications for immunocompromised or high-risk for severe COVID-19 individuals who have been exposed to COVID at school;
· Reporting all cases and outbreaks in schools to Public Health and on our District Dashboard;
· Responding to cluster cases or outbreaks as directed -- Public Health may require enhanced mitigation strategies to prevent transmission; and
· Staff and volunteer vaccination or an approved exemption.
While not required, our district’s improved ventilation systems will continue to operate as they have throughout the pandemic and we will continue our cleaning and sanitizing practices.
Additionally, the guidance recommends layering OPTIONAL prevention measures such as masks and screening tests for higher risk activities or in response to outbreaks or when disease levels are high. For personal protection, the DoH also encourages individuals to use other COVID-19 prevention strategies such as vaccination and distancing.
Our district will not be requiring the optional measures. This means that social distancing in music classes, lunchrooms, etc. is no longer mandated. However, our District will respect and support individuals’ choices with regard to optional personal safety measures, ensuring a welcoming and safe environment for all learners.
For more details, please refer to the updated DoH Guidance (revised March 10). Requirements for schools are explained in the first 5 pages, followed by optional strategies for layered prevention.
Until March 12, 2022, our district’s current COVID-19 Protocols still apply. If you have questions after March 12, please refer to Updated COVID-19 Requirements for Schools that will be added to our website.
As always, our Snoqualmie Valley schools remain committed to supporting healthy learning environments while following all Public Health requirements.