The Washington state Department of Health (DOH) recently announced that its state health recommendations are transitioning to a new phase of COVID-19 response – one that is more focused on living with the virus, preventing widespread infection, and consistent with other communicable diseases.
Starting on November 1, DOH will relax its COVID guidance and prevention strategies for K-12 schools. This means that the state guidelines will be more closely aligned with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance and most of the requirements outlined in the previous version of the guidance will shift to recommendations.
Here are a few things that are changing with the updated guidance:
- Staff and school volunteers will no longer be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
- The definition of a COVID-19 outbreak has changed from 3 or more cases to 5 or more COVID-19 cases within a core group or 20% of students, teachers, or staff within a core group.
- The COVID Decision Tree/Flow Chart will be updated to reflect the changes in guidance and we will share this updated document with families once it is available.
Alternatively, there are a number of existing requirements that are NOT changing:
- People with COVID symptoms should stay home and isolate themselves from others.
- If someone shows COVID symptoms while at school, they should be isolated away from others and sent home.
- Schools must have a response and communication plan in place that includes communication with staff, families and public health officers.
- Our district will inform staff who may have been exposed to COVID-19 about the potential exposure while maintaining confidentiality of the person who tested positive.
- Schools must report COVID-19 cases, suspected cases, and outbreaks to their local public health agency.
- Employers are still required to follow L&I requirements regarding COVID-19 in the workplace, which means that staff will be notified if there is a COVID case in their worksite.
These requirements are in place for all public and private K-12 schools and child care facilities in Washington state. A more detailed summary of the updated guidance is outlined in the KSD COVID-19 Safety Plan.
Questions? Call 360-673-5771 (for elementary) or 360-673-5832 (middle/high school) or email email@example.com. You can also call the Washington State Department of Health’s COVID-19 Information hotline at 1-800-525-0127.