Dear WSVSD Families,
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has released new guidelines for schools to follow as we move into a new phase of managing the COVID pandemic. The new guidance is similar to national CDC guidance, and comes at a time when we are seeing declines in COVID-19 cases across our region, state, and nation. As we learn to live in a world with the virus and begin to resume some regular activities safely, the guidance includes both required COVID mitigation measures as well as suggested ones.
Here is a summary of some of the major changes.
- The new guidance does not go into effect until Monday, March 14, 2022.
- Many of the state-required COVID prevention measures that have been in place will become optional instead of required. This includes things like general masking and physical distancing. Schools and organizations are allowed to implement more robust prevention measures, if necessary.
- At White Salmon Valley School District, we will not be requiring students or staff to wear masks in class or on school buses starting on March 14. However, anyone who still wants to wear a mask may do so. We must all be respectful of differences in individual choice.
- People who have COVID symptoms must continue to stay home and away from others, and get tested. This is required regardless of whether someone is vaccinated or not.
- Washington State Department of Health (DOH) will be creating an updated flowchart document showing steps people should take if they have symptoms or are exposed to COVID.
- People who test positive need to be quarantined for at least 5 days. On Day 5, students can come to either Whitson or Columbia High for a rapid antigen test. If the test is negative, a student may return on Day 6. However, if the test results are positive, a student will continue to quarantine through Day 10.
- Schools are still required to offer access to COVID testing at school. We offer rapid antigen testing at Whitson Elementary and Columbia High School.
- Our school district will continue with the following layered prevention measures:
- Improved ventilation
- Increased cleaning and disinfecting
- Maintaining physical distancing as much as possible, including seating only two (2) students at a 5-foot round lunch table
- Promoting handwashing and good hygiene
We understand that these changes will be met with anxiety by some and excitement by others. Please be respectful to one another as each individual decides what prevention and safety measures are right for their personal or family circumstances. Compassion will be critical as we safely modify mitigation measures that were put in place over the past two years. If you have questions, please connect with your building principal or district office. We will continue to share more information with you when we receive any new guidance from the state and as we update our school district practices to align with the new guidance.
Dr. Sean McGeeney