01.12.22 Letter to Families: DOH Update

01.12.22 Letter to Families: DOH Update
Posted on 01/12/2022
SSD LogoJanuary 12, 2022 

Dear Sultan School District Families,

We want to inform you that we have received updated guidance over the weekend from the Washington State Department of Health and are awaiting clarification from the Snohomish Health District. We are concerned with the increase in Covid-19 cases affecting our students, families, and staff. The updated K-12 Schools guidance from the Department of Health, aligned with the updated CDC guidance, includes updated isolation, quarantine, and test-to-stay requirements but we, along with other Snohomish County Districts, are waiting to receive clarifications on fully vaccinated definitions, testing requirements, close contact definitions, timelines for household close contacts, and updates on class a/class b symptoms. We have begun implementing the new guidance to the best of our ability and have been working to contact each family currently affected. Thank you for your patience as we wait to get clarification so that we can address all student, staff, and family cases and exposures equitably. We are unable to provide a blanket timeline for all families as exposures, symptoms, and timelines are different depending on your student’s and family’s unique situations. 

We want to make you aware that our nursing, administrators, office, and support staff are doing all that we can to bring your student back to school, following the updated guidance, as quickly and safely as possible. Following the new guidance, in some cases, your student may be able to return to in-person learning sooner, and in some cases, individuals will need to quarantine when they had previously not been quarantined. We are currently working with a large number of students, families, and staff members who are currently impacted by Covid-19 and other winter illnesses. 

Compounding the significant rise in cases is the shortage of testing supplies locally and throughout the state. We have a limited number of tests left and are impacted by this shortage. Due to the shortage, both our nursing staff and PMG staff will only be testing students, immediate and symptomatic family members of students, and staff members. If you or your student has tested positive for Covid-19 then your student may need a negative test on day 5 (counting begins after the last date of contact with the positive case or the day after the student’s positive test, whichever is greater) to return to school or they will need to wait out their full isolation or quarantine period. While we wait to get confirmation of this, it is important for families to test if they are symptomatic and we would encourage you to seek testing if you or your student is experiencing Covid-19 symptoms. Your student’s nurse will continue to let you know what date your student may return if they become quarantined. If your student is able to participate in the expanded Test-to-Stay program, and there are Covid-19 tests available, then your student must be tested on the dates given by your student’s school nurse.

As we are heading towards the anticipated peak of this wave, I wanted to update you on some important information to help us all be prepared in case a classroom, grade level, or school needs to be temporarily closed due to COVID cases or staff absences due to illness. A closure would only be implemented as a last resort in the event of a significant Covid-19 outbreak, Snohomish Health District directive, or due to unattainable staffing levels due to illness.

The most important thing we can all do to continue learning in person and prevent this from spreading further in our schools is to stay home if symptomatic. Additional ways we can all help support the health and safety of students and staff include:

Get vaccinated, including a booster shot
Avoid large gatherings
Continue to wash your hands regularly
Wear masks properly
Maintain a social distance from others

It will take all of us working together to keep our schools healthy.

How will the district decide whether to change to remote learning?
The decision to transition to remote learning will be based on whether the classroom, grade level, school, or department’s staff absences are too great to safely hold in-person learning. 

To help prepare for the possibility of a quick pivot to remote learning, we ask students who currently take their district-issued laptops to and from school daily to continue to do so (students in grades 5-12). If we need to close a classroom, grade level, or school then staff will have one day to prepare, and then remote learning will take place until it is safe to return to school. For those whose laptops are left at school, there will be a distribution of the devices (students in grades K-4). The teacher will utilize our current digital platforms and the learning structure and expectations will be communicated.

Since the change to remote will be based upon things out of our control, we may not have much notice before we need to quickly pivot. I ask that you think through what might be needed for your family if this happens. If a classroom, grade level, or school needs to close, it will be closed until students and staff are safely able to return following isolation and quarantine timelines. We would allow one day for staff and students to transition to remote learning and then spend whatever time is necessary in remote learning until staff and students are able to return to in-person learning. If a classroom, grade level, or school is closed then the building will be closed for all students and staff and will be thoroughly cleaned. 

I would like to emphasize, there are no plans to implement any closures, but we need to be prepared for that possibility.  

Thank you for your continued partnership in supporting the well-being of our students and staff.

Sincerely,

Dan Chaplik, Superintendent
Sultan School District

Updated K-12 Guidance 
Note: Guidance may be adjusted to reflect expected clarification from the Snohomish Health District. We will communicate once clarification has been received. 

On Friday, January 7, the Department of Health updated isolation and quarantine recommendations for K-12 schools. The new recommendations align with updated CDC guidelines. These changes include:
 
Close contacts: When to quarantine
Students, teachers, and staff who come into close contact with someone with COVID-19 do need to quarantine for at least 5 days after their last close contact if they are in any one of the following groups:
Ages 18 or older and completed the primary series of recommended vaccine, but have not received a recommended booster shot when eligible.
Received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine (completing the primary series) over 2 months ago and have not received a recommended booster shot.
Are not vaccinated or have not completed a primary vaccine series.

Students, teachers, and staff who come into close contact with someone with COVID-19 do not need to quarantine if they are in any one of the following groups. Continue to monitor for symptoms and stay home if you are sick.
Ages 18 or older and have received all recommended vaccine doses, including boosters and additional primary shots for some immunocompromised people.
Ages 5-17 years and completed the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines.
Had confirmed COVID-19 within the last 90 days.

Test to Stay changes for close contacts
Both students and staff are now eligible for Test to Stay, exclusions may apply.
Students who are eligible for Test to Stay may attend school, school-related extracurricular activities, and school-aged child care during their quarantine period if they participate in serial testing. This is known as modified quarantine. Your school nurse will provide you with more details about Test to Stay.

Isolating without COVID symptoms after a positive test (asymptomatic cases)
Isolate for at least 5 days. Day 0 is the day of the positive COVID-19 test and day 1 is the first full day after the specimen was collected for the positive test.
If you develop symptoms after testing positive, the 5-day isolation period should start over. Day 0 is the first day of symptoms.
Returning to School: After 5 days of isolation, students and staff may return to school if they have a negative COVID test (an antigen test is recommended). Your school nurse can help you with your specific case.
Continue monitoring for symptoms and wearing a well-fitting mask around others from day 6-10, both in and out of school, including during extracurricular and sports activities.
This applies regardless of vaccination status.

Isolating with COVID symptoms after a positive test
Isolate for at least 5 days. Day 0 is the day of the positive COVID-19 test and day 1 is the first full day after the specimen was collected for the positive test.
Returning to School: After 5 days of isolation, students and staff may return to school if they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication AND other symptoms have improved AND if they have a negative COVID test (an antigen test is recommended). Your school nurse can help you with your specific case.
If you continue to have a fever or other symptoms have not improved after 5 days of isolation, you should wait to end isolation until you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and other symptoms have improved.
Continue wearing a well-fitting mask around others from day 6-10, both in and out of school, including during extracurricular and sports activities.
This applies regardless of vaccination status.

Changes to guidance if you are symptomatic:
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, continue to follow the guidance from the Department of Health listed on our website.
If you are required to test before returning to school then your student's nurse will provide guidance on allowable tests and timelines