January 12, 2022

Dear White Salmon Families,

You may have heard that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its guidance for schools to allow for a shorter isolation and quarantine time period. School districts must follow Washington State Department of Health (DOH) guidelines, and the state DOH just changed its guidance to align with the CDC. Our school district is aligning with these changes, effective Thursday, January 13, 2022. 

This is a lot of information to track, which is why we are summarizing the changes below.

Summary of Recent State Guidance Changes

Isolation and quarantine guidance was shortened to 5 days in many cases, and testing recommendations were updated. The new guidance applies to both those who are vaccinated and unvaccinated.

Isolation: Isolation requirements have been reduced to 5 days with testing and proper masking.

  • If  a  person tests positive for COVID-19, they can return to school when:

    • 5 days have passed since symptom onset, or since positive test date if no symptoms are present; AND

    • No symptoms are present, or symptoms are resolving; AND

    • No fever within the past 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications; AND

    • After receiving a negative test from a test taken no sooner than day 5.

    • Students and staff should continue monitoring for symptoms and wearing a well-fitting mask around others through day 10 (days  6-10)  both in and out of school, including during extracurricular and sports activities.

Quarantine: Students and staff who come into close contact with someone with COVID-19 may need to quarantine for at least 5 days  (the first full day after exposure is day 1) after their last close contact. 

Those who are not vaccinated or have not completed a primary vaccine series need to quarantine and must test negative prior to coming back to in-person school.

These groups do not need to quarantine:

  • Have received all recommended vaccine doses.

  • Had confirmed COVID-19 within the last 90 days.

There are two quarantine options for close contacts:

  • Students or staff must quarantine at home. Quarantine can end after 5 full days beginning after the last close contact (the date of last close  contact is considered day 0) if no symptoms have developed and after receiving a negative test result from a test taken no sooner than day 5.   

  • If an  individual  or  student who  is  a  close  contact chooses not to test or does  not  get tested, a longer quarantine period may be required (at least 10 days).

Decision Tree/FlowChart to be Updated

With the changes to guidance, the symptom decision tree document is now out of date. The Washington State DOH will be updating this document and we will share this document as soon as we get the updated version.

In the meantime, please keep students home if they are sick and get them tested for COVID-19, which can be completed at any of our schools.  The rapid antigen tests for return to school are available at Whitson Elementary and Columbia High School.

We understand it is difficult to keep track of the many changes to public health guidance. We are working to update our materials to line up with the new state DOH guidelines as quickly as possible. Thank you for your continued patience as we respond to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 landscape.

Dr. Sean McGeeney
White Salmon Valley School District