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Frequently Asked Questions
This resource will continue to grow as new information becomes available.
Why did the Snoqualmie Valley School District close schools?
Following a March 12 executive order by the Governor of Washington State, the Snoqualmie Valley School District closed all SVSD schools staring Friday, March 13 through Friday, April 24. This closure includes the cancellation of all out-of-district transportation, events, athletic practices, games, field trips and competitions. On March 13, the Governor extended the order to all school in Washington State – in an efforts to prevent the transmission and spread of the COVID-19 disease.
What prompted the closure of schools?
SVSD had been working closely with Public Health Seattle and King County Health, OSPI, and partner agencies with regard to COVID-19. We followed all of their recommendations and stayed open serving students for as long as possible, per public health recommendations. However, multiple factors led to the decision to close schools including:
- The number of cases of COVID-19 is rapidly increasing.
- Health officials can no longer map the contacts of infected individuals reliably.
- School districts are experiencing growing rates of student absences.
- An increase in staff absences were impacting the ability of districts to operate schools.
- To prevent the spread of illness, elected officials also prohibited group gatherings of 250 or more people, and social distancing is highly encouraged by public health officials.
While schools are closed, what activities will be canceled?
The following outside events and activities have been canceled or postponed:
- Facilities use by outside groups (including fields)
- Games, practices, concerts, dances, plays and information events at schools
- Field trips
- Volunteer work in schools
- Non-essential travel by SVSD staff
What support is the District working to provide during the closure?
Upon closing all schools, elected officials in our state have asked all districts to develop contingency plans for ensuring students who may depend on schools for meals can receive free nutritional support, and for helping provide a daycare option for school-aged students of parents who work in emergency response, hospitals and medical care -- vital service our communities may need. Our district is engaged in this planning work and will share more information once details have been finalized.
Will staff still be able to work in school buildings during the closure?
At this time, our schools are closed to students and the public, but staff may still work in the buildings. In doing so, they will also be encouraged to exercise social distancing around others, and continue other prevention measures recommended by public health, such as disinfecting common touch surfaces, continuing diligent hand hygiene, and staying home if they have any symptoms of illness.
How will student testing be affected?
According to the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), all state testing will be canceled for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. These include: Smarter Balanced Assessments (English Language Arts and Math SBA) for grades 3-8 and 10; Washington Access to Instruction and Measurement (WA-AIM) English Language Arts and Math for grades 3-8 and 10; English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA21); Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS) for grades 5, 8 and 11; WIDA Alternate ACCESS for English learners; and WaKIDS for Transitional Kindergarten.
How will instructional time be made up for COVID-19 related closures?
To make up missed days, OSPI expects districts to make every effort to make up missed instruction time including using schedule vacation days and planning school closure days. However, OSPI has indicated emergency grant waivers will be available on the number of days required. Currently, we believe our last day of school for grades K-11 will still be June 25.
Will online learning be available district-wide for all students?
At this time, the District will not be moving to an all online learning model. While online opportunities may be currently available for some specific coursework and grade levels, it is not available or effective for all. Replacing in-person classroom learning with online learning for all students in the District presents several regulatory, technological, logistical and equity challenges that cannot be solved on short notice.
The Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OEPI) has provided guidance advising districts only move to an online learning model if they can meet at least eight specific criteria:
- Ensuring all students in the school or district will have equal access to the learning and required materials, including technology.
- Ensuring the online learning system can effectively support the district’s different learning and teaching needs, including the ability to provide differentiated instruction as well as one-on-one support for students who need it. Regardless of where the learning is happening, supports identified on a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) must be provided if the district is operating.
- Ensuring the requirements of full-day kindergarten are met.
- Ensuring students can access the assessments associated with dual credit coursework.
- Providing training to staff, students, and parents and guardians on how the system works and what expectations the district has.
- The ability to track the attendance of both students and staff.
- Ensuring the systems in use are secure and will not allow for the release of protected student or staff information.
- The ability to provide school meals.
See OSPI’s Distance/Online Learning guidance on page 2 of its March 6 memo.
What steps are being taken by the District to implement online learning in the future?
SVSD recognizes there is a community desire for us to consider alternative or online learning during school closures. This is a topic that requires due diligence and further research. We are having discussions about the effectiveness of delivering learning online, and discussions with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) regarding the ability of the state system to deliver education online. We are also considering support that would be needed to implement this system for students, as well as support for staff who would need training. Additionally, there are a number of items that involve working with colleges and universities regarding credit equivalents and evaluating online learning options to ensure we are delivering the sound, reasonable, and reliable learning system that our community would expect.
An initial list of considerations and further study includes:
- Assurances that ALL students would have equitable access to the learning material and technology involved — including needs of students without internet access, or who share technology at home are addressed.
- Assurances that the District network can support the increased traffic for K-12 use.
- Receiving approval from OSPI for Alternative Learning Experiences.
- Assurances from OSPI that instructional time for online learning activities are equivalent to in-person classroom time.
- Having supports integrated into online learning for students with specific learning needs — such as students learning English or students with disabilities. Online activities must support these students in a manner equivalent to the services provided in the school environment.
- Having all staff trained in using an online learning management system and ensuring their access to adequate internet speeds.
- A system to track attendance/presence for staff and students.
- Verifying system security for personal staff and student information.
- Tech support personnel to support all students and all staff with issues that may emerge.
Our district has made significant progress this year equipping grades 6-12 with devices for one-to-one computing at our secondary schools, and introducing staff to the Schoology Learning Management System. However, we do not have a solution for devices for younger grade levels, and not all staff have transitioned to using Schoology...nor is there adequate online curriculum developed to replace the in-person instruction currently delivered. As SVSD considers all of these items, we are in contact with other districts that are farther along with the implementation of an online learning system to learn how they have addressed these issues as well as others. We are continuing to explore the viability of options for remote learning.
When should I seek medical advice if I suspect I or someone close to me has COVID-19?
While the number of cases is increasing, the vast majority of the illnesses around the world are mild, with fever and coughs. If you or a family member has symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, call your regular medical provider rather that going into their office to determine if you should get tested. Public Health recommends NOT going to the emergency room unless there is a critical need. Public Health also warns that those who are over the age of 60, have an underlying medical condition, or are pregnant may be at greater risk, if they get the illness. Contact your health care provider if you have symptoms to determine if you should get tested. And, if you believe you were exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, contact King County’s novel coronavirus call center at 206-477-3977.
Specifically, Public Health recommends...
Learn Public Health’s updated guidance regarding when to self-quarantine as a precaution, and when to practice isolation due to illness. Specifically...
- If you have confirmed or suspected COVID-19: Stay in home isolation for 7 days OR until 72 hours after your fever has resolved and symptoms get better, whichever is longer.
- If you have COVID-19 symptoms but haven’t been around anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19: Symptoms of COVID-19 typically include fever, cough or shortness of breath. Stay in home isolation and avoid others for 72 hours after your fever goes down and symptoms get better.
- If you were potentially exposed to someone with confirmed COVID-19…
- But you do not have symptoms: Do not go to school or work. Avoid public places for 14 days. Monitor your health for fever, cough and shortness of breath for 14 days after your last contact with the ill person.
- And you feel sick: Isolate yourself, even if your symptoms are mild. If you are at higher risk for severe illness (over 60, with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes, have a weakened immune system, or are pregnant), be sure to call your healthcare provider to see if they want to test you for COVID-19. If you are not at high risk, call your health care provider as well and they can help you determine if you need to be tested.
When should a person stay home if they are sick, and for how long?
The Public Health guidelines for when to keep your student home from school were updated March 8 in response to the coronavirus illness. This applies to school staff as well as students. A child with a fever of 100 degrees F or higher should stay home for 72 hours after their fever has passed without the use of fever-reducing medications. Children that have a fever, cough and shortness of breath, should stay home for 72 hours and symptoms get better. This will help ensure that the fever is truly gone and that your child is past the point of being contagious. Children with significant runny noses and/or profuse cough need to remain home until the secretions have diminished to a controllable /containable level.
What can I do to protect myself and my family and prevent the spread of COVID-19?
Coronaviruses, including COVID-19, spread between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) via coughing or sneezing. It may also spread by touching a surface or object with the virus on it. The same good health habits that prevent other viruses like the flu also prevent the spread of COVID-19 and decrease the risk of getting sick:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, with 60% alcohol.
- Cough into a tissue or your elbow (not your hand), then throw tissue away and wash your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Keep students home if they are running a temperature or they report not feeling well or appear weak or ill. Likewise, parents and staff stay home yourself if you are ill
- Consult your health care provider if you or your child has health conditions that put you at increased risk.
Does it help to wear a mask?
Public Health agencies currently do not recommend that people wear masks when they are in public. Scientists are not sure whether wearing a mask in public actually keeps healthy people from getting sick. It is more important for people who are sick to wear a mask in a healthcare setting (such as a waiting room) to avoid exposing other people when they cough or sneeze. As COVID-19 has spread, the supply of masks has been depleted, and it’s important to make masks available for health care workers most directly working with the disease. In some parts of the world, mask use when sick is customary. People also wear masks for a variety of reasons, including avoiding pollen and air pollution, as a courtesy to others when they have the common cold, and for other cultural and even social reasons. Please do not assume that someone wearing a mask has COVID-19.
What information is available in other languages?
What is novel coronavirus?
Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus strain spreading from person-to-person in China and other countries, including the United States. Health experts are concerned because little is known about this new virus and it has the potential to cause severe illness and pneumonia in some people.
How does COVID-19 spread?
Health experts are still learning the details. Currently, it is thought to spread:
- via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
How severe is novel coronavirus?
Experts are still learning about the range of illness from novel coronavirus. Reported cases have ranged from mild illness (similar to a common cold) to severe pneumonia that requires hospitalization. So far, deaths have been reported mainly in older adults who had other health conditions.
What are the symptoms?
People who have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus have reported symptoms that may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus.
Symptoms include: fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
How is COVID-19 treated?
There are no medications specifically approved for coronavirus. Most people with mild coronavirus illness will recover on their own by drinking plenty of fluids, resting, and taking pain and fever medications. However, some cases develop pneumonia and require medical care or hospitalization.
What is the District doing to clean schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
Custodians and food service workers have been trained and are following procedures for cleaning and disinfecting with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered disinfectant with a claim for human coronaviruses. Typically, this means routine sanitizing and disinfecting of common touch areas which include: door handles and knobs, phones and two-way radios, computer keyboards, desks and countertops, light switches, sinks, faucets, drinking fountains, toys, coffee pots, etc.
Extra Cleaning and Disinfecting: While Public Health has not recommended a change to our current cleaning procedures, the District took extra steps to enhance routine cleaning.
- Our District initiated a deep cleaning and disinfecting of all schools on Sunday and Monday, March 8-9. This timing took advantage of the pre-planned Professional Development Day on Monday, March 9, in which students were not be present at school. We brought in professional cleaners (with a cleaning plan approved by a certified hygienist) to partner with our own custodial staff. Also, Transportation staff worked to disinfect our entire school bus fleet.
- Along with practicing good personal hygiene, we recognize the importance of ongoing efforts to disinfect common touch areas. We received many staff questions about wanting to bring in personal cleaning products – however, state law requires only district-approved disinfectants to be used. To help empower and equip staff who were willing and interested in helping clean their work areas and classrooms, training was provided during staff meetings on the proper use and storage of a district-approved, EPA-registered disinfectant spray. Then employees who are interested in helping were provided spray bottles and paper towels to disinfect the common touch areas in their classrooms and work spaces – in an “all-hands-on-deck” response to keeping our school environments healthy.
How is the District addressing racial bias?
In the Snoqualmie Valley School District, we are committed to all schools being welcoming, safe, and inclusive, and we do not tolerate hate speech or acts of discrimination. The COVID-19 infection is not connected to any race, ethnicity, or nationality. Help us prevent discrimination or stigmatization by sharing accurate information. Misinformation can create fear and hostility that harms people and makes it harder to keep everyone healthy. Public Health Seattle & King County has provided resources to address and prevent discrimination. Please do not hesitate to contact your school principal or use the Safety Tipline link (via the Report a Concern icon) on all school websites if you experience discrimination. We are stronger as a community when we stand together against discrimination.
What resources are available for talking to kids about COVID-19?
- Talking to your children about school closures and COVID-19 - from OSPI
- Informative graphic resource - from NPR
- Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope with the Coronavirus Disease 2019 - from National Child Traumatic Stress Network
- Tips for Handwashing to Prevent Illness - from Washington State Department of Health
How should I stay informed?
During this dynamic and evolving situation, the District is closely following the guidance of health authorities in our response to the COVID-19 outbreak:
- Public Health Seattle & King County -- for the most up-to-date information for our region; sign up for email alerts
- Washington State Department of Health (DOH)
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- CDC Guidance for Travelers
- Washington State Coronavirus Call Center: 800-525-0127 – for general questions about COVID-19
When new information becomes available, we will continue to inform SVSD families and staff through the district’s usual emergency communications channels: District website, E-News via email, social media, and emergency call-out/email/texts, if needed. All updates from our district are compiled in one locations for reference on a Coronavirus Updates webpage.