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Increasing COVID Challenges, Changing Guidance and Updates

January 12, 2022

 

Dear Snoqualmie Valley Families, 

 

What a relief to have schools on a normal schedule after last week’s wild weather. That was really rough and we’re so grateful for your patience and understanding as we got through it together. We have some more challenges ahead and I want to share some important COVID information and updates with you. 

 

REGIONAL SPIKE IN CASES

Omicron is here and is having a significant impact in our region and community. We are told by Public Health that we are likely nearing the peak, but it will take some time to get through this. We are in constant contact with the Department of Health and Public Health and working with their advice and direction. 

 

POTENTIAL SCHOOL CLOSURES

You’ve probably seen a number of reports of schools in our region moving to remote learning due to lack of staffing. Thankfully, right now, we are not experiencing issues to that degree and are doing everything we can to safely keep our schools open and staffed for in-person learning.  Here are a few examples of steps we’re taking:

  • Increased pay for certificated subs to $190/day
  • Increased pay for classified subs (and regular staff) under a new agreement with our classified union
  • Central office staff, instructional coaches, etc. are available to cover classrooms when we’re short on subs 
  • Temporarily suspending almost all release-time professional development during the school day

 

COVID DASHBOARD PERSPECTIVE

While we’ve had generally good success keeping COVID cases out of our schools, we do have a number of students and staff testing positive. Last week, we had only 16 cases show up in our schools, which is what is reported on our Dashboard (offsite cases that were never at school have not been included in our Dashboard). However, we were notified by over 100 students and staff that they tested positive over the break. During testing provided by our nurses before school after the break, many more tested positive but didn’t go to school. Thankfully, that means everyone is being conscientious in helping keep COVID cases out of school, which is great – thank you!  However, our nurses and administrators are still stretched thin communicating and advising the families of the numerous outside cases.

 

THANK YOUR NURSE AND ADMIN

This would be a great time to show your appreciation for our nurses and administrators. Cases have risen significantly and our nurses and admin are overloaded in testing, communicating, documenting and reporting. The tasks have become unmanageable, not just here, but across our state and nation. Some changes in guidance will help, but we also need everyone’s patience and understanding as our teams can no longer maintain their earlier levels of service and responsiveness due to the volume of cases.

 

COVID TESTING SHORTAGE

Several weeks ago, we ordered thousands of additional COVID tests from the Department of Health and we still haven’t received them. We’re not alone. The DoH has 5 million tests, but they are having trouble getting them out. They tell us that we might not receive those tests for 7-10 days. We are currently working on a plan to ration our remaining tests and are trying to get tests from any and all channels possible. If you have any connections for a large number of antigen tests through your company or organization, please let us know. 

 

DRIVE-UP TESTING PLANNED

Once we have more tests, during this peak we plan to set up evening drive up testing at Mount Si High School for any of our students with symptoms and those wanting to test as they near the end of their quarantine. We hope this will expedite services for our families and reduce the testing burden on schools and nurses. Look for more info soon!

 

HEALTH GUIDANCE CHANGES 

This past week, the CDC, WA DoH and Public Health changed the recommended quarantine length for COVID positive individuals to 5 days (with some limitations) and the Test-to-Stay time to 5 days as well. We’re working on the implementation of these changes with our Health Services team and updating our documents. We expect to have details to share on Friday and will fully implement the new 5-day timeline starting Tues., Jan. 18. 

 

TRIAGE CONTACT TRACING

Public Health has significantly reduced contact tracing requirements due to changing science around where contact tracing is needed/effective and to help our teams manage the demands of dramatically increased cases. This means that you may be notified if your child was in an area with a positive case, but not whether or not they were a close contact. You are always advised to watch for symptoms and may choose to have your child tested outside of school.  

 

THANK YOU

We want to thank you, our community, for your understanding and support. Life is hard on everyone right now and we all need grace, kindness and patience. Everyone is doing the best they can and that’s all we can ask of ourselves and others. We will get through this and help our kids get through this together. 

 

Sincerely,

Dr. Lance Gibbon, Superintendent