Health District recommends county’s schools continue remote education, with limited in-person learning

Given the most recent COVID-19 case numbers, the Snohomish Health District told schools Tuesday that it is “strongly” recommending that schools continue limited in-person learning for younger learners and high-need students.

In a Tuesday announcement, the health district noted that Snohomish County is now within the high COVID-19 activity category of more than 75 cases per 100,000 residents in a two-week period. Based on the decision tree for schools, updated by the Washington State Department of Health on Oct. 16, schools may continue limited in-person learning, the health district said.

Dr. Chris Spitters, the county’s chief health officer, shared the following recommendations with schools Tuesday:

  • Continued distance learning is still strongly recommended, with limited in-person learning for younger learners (especially K-3) and high-need students (for example, those with disabilities, who are homeless, or are “farthest from educational justice”).
  • In-person learning for older students is discouraged, except high-need students, given “the current level and trajectory of COVID-19 activity in the community,”
  • Cancellation or postponement of most in-person extracurricular activities is “strongly recommended,” including sports, performances, clubs and events, with the option to allow extracurricular activities in small groups of six or fewer students.

“These recommendations are a ceiling for what’s permissible, but not the floor. Each school and family needs to make decisions on what is best for them,” Spitters added. “We will continue to monitor case rates, hospitalization impacts, test positivity rates, and trends in cases occurring in schools. These recommendations may be revised if the COVID-19 situation continues to deteriorate in Snohomish County.”

Examples of factors that would call for greater restrictions affecting in-person education may include increased frequency or difficulty in controlling school-based outbreaks, evidence that schools are amplifying transmission in the community, dwindling acute care hospital capacity, or statewide directives further limiting in-person attendance. The best way to stabilize children’s education and permit a greater return to in-person learning is for the entire community to reverse the current upward trend in COVID transmission, the health district said.


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