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Coronavirus Update: New Safety Measures Regarding Events and Operations
[NOTE: Translation of SVSD messages are available on the SVSD website. Visit the Coronavirus Update webpage and select the globe icon in the top right corner.]
Update as of March 6, 2020 (11 a.m.)…
Dear SVSD Families,
Based on guidance from King County this week, Public Health continues to recommend that schools stay open when there are no confirmed cases. Public Health also reported some new recommendations for reducing the risk of exposure and slowing the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Snoqualmie Valley School District (SVSD) is enacting several new safety measures to balance the recommendations from Public Health with continuing regular operations of our schools, to reduce the risks to our learning community. We recognize that these new precautions may create hardships in our community, so please know we did not make these decisions lightly. However, we believe these steps will help reduce exposure to COVID-19 illness by limiting the number of people coming in and out of our buildings, reducing opportunities for exposure, and helping conserve vital resources. These steps align with precautions being implemented by our neighboring districts, and continue to support normal school day operations, per Public Health recommendations.
The following safety measures will go into effect immediately:
- Facilities Use by Outside Groups – Suspended
In order to maximize our resources toward the cleaning of our schools, we will be canceling external rentals and use of our district facilities. Please note: this does not include all field use. It is important to allow our custodians to focus on the recommended cleaning and disinfecting, and to conserve district cleaning supplies. Special thanks for our dedicated custodians and their diligence in the weeks ahead!
- Field Trips – Case-by-case Consideration
Fieldtrips will be determined on a case-by-case basis (by district administration), dependent on the event’s nature, significance and location. This includes local day trips and out-of-state travel, as well as guest speakers. Schools will work to notify their groups with as much advanced notice as possible. Please note: Participation in events that are already underway with a state qualifying component this weekend, including the DECA State Competition, Boys Basketball State Tournament, and District Dance Team Competition will be allowed to finish.
- All Games, Concerts, Dances, Plays, and Information and Evening Events – Canceled or Postponed
We know how much our community loves to enjoy our students’ many talents. However, in an effort to reduce possible exposure to visitors attending our events, we feel this is an important precaution. Information nights may be rescheduled or modified. (Next week, for example, the MSHS Community Open House, Classified Job Fair, Superintendent Coffee Hour, Future Freshman Night, 6th Grade Parent Nights are among the canceled activities to limit visitors at school.) Schools will communicate to their families about canceled or postponed school activities; watch for updates on school websites.
- Travel by SVSD Staff – Suspended
All out-of-district work-related trips by SVSD Staff will be suspended unless authorized as essential by executive administration (Cabinet).
- Volunteer Work – Suspended
We are grateful for our volunteers. However, in an effort to limit the number of people coming in and out of our buildings we need to suspend volunteering in our schools.
- Staff-Led Internal School Sports Practices and Club Activities – Will Continue
Only staff-led activities, such as sports practices, will be allowed. Before-school and after-school care provided at our schools for our students will also continue. However, clubs led by other organizations and vendors (including PTSA) will be cancelled.
- Parent and Guardian Normal School Business / Pick Up-Drop Off – Will Continue
Parents and guardians who have meetings scheduled, or who need to come to the front office, or pick up or drop off a student, may still do so. However, we encourage parents and guardians to communicate by email or phone when possible, in an effort to reduce people coming in and out of our school buildings.
These measures will be in effect immediately until further notice (at a minimum through next week). We will reassess these steps as more information becomes available, and will notify families with as much advanced notice as possible if we make adjustments, enact additional measures, or return to our normal operations.
Public Health Recommends Keeping Schools Open
Schools are large, public settings with plenty of social interaction and it’s understandable that everyone is concerned about how children will be affected. Health officials from Public Health – Seattle & King County and the CDC weighed recommendations for schools very carefully:
- The available data about COVID-19 cases has shown that children and youth have not been high risk groups for serious illness from this virus. Most confirm cases have occurred in adults, while COVID-19 infection in children tends to be more like a common cold or a mild fever.
- Public Health recognizes that schools are doing the important work of educating our children, which they do not want to disrupt that unless there are known coronavirus exposure risks.
- They also understand that school closures have other impacts on working parents, as they can be disruptive and costly for families. Identifying and paying for alternative childcare can be prohibitively expensive for families.
- And, many students rely on schools for free and reduced meals and other vital resources.
For these reasons, Public Health is not recommending closing schools at this time when there are no confirmed cases in our schools. As much as possible, children should be allowed to carry on with their education and normal activities. (If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19, Public Health will notify and work with the school and district to determine the best response measures.) Per recent Public Health guidance to schools:
- Is Public Health recommending that schools cancel school assemblies and other school events? At this time, they are not recommending the cancellation of school activities if the school remains open.
- Is Public Health recommending cancellation of community events outside of school hours that involve family as spectators or participants, like school sports games and PTA meetings? Since adults are more at risk of serious illness from novel coronavirus, when possible, it’s a good idea for schools to practice social distancing by postponing unessential community events involving adults. In particular, they recommend that people over age 60, those with underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, or weakened immune systems stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible. There is not much information about novel coronavirus in pregnancy, so they suggest pregnant women also take precautions recommended for other high-risk groups.
We recognize that parents and guardians are always in the best position to make decisions regarding the health of their children and families. If your child is sick for any reason, please keep them home and contact your healthcare provider, if necessary. Caregivers of children with underlying health conditions, such as weakened immune systems that put them at higher risk, should consult with healthcare providers about whether their children should stay home. If your child is not sick, but you are fearful that they may become sick, you can also excuse your child from school. In either case, please follow your school’s normal procedures for reporting your student’s absence, and be sure to reference the reason for the absence so we can monitor the health of our schools. We will be following our regular procedures for excusing work and/or permitting students a reasonable amount of time to make up any missed work for excused absences.
Here is guidance to consider when making a decision about sending your child to school:
- If your child is currently showing any signs of illness, please keep them home and follow district guidelines for when they should return.
- If anyone in your household currently has flu-like symptoms, please keep your child home.
- If your child is showing signs of illness and has possibly been exposed to a patient with COVID-19, please keep them home from school and contact your healthcare provider.
- If any member of your household is at high risk from COVID-19, you should consider keeping your child home.
Please continue to watch our website, social media, and E-News for new information. All SVSD Coronavirus Updates are posted here.
- Public Health websites:
- Public Health - Seattle & King County
- Washington State Department of Health (DOH)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- For questions: DOH Coronavirus Call Center: 1-800-525-0127
Thank you for your understanding during this time. While we recognize the impact of the changes above, we believe they are in the best interest of our students, staff, and community.
SVSD Leadership Team