12:30pm – March 9th: District administrators are committed to ongoing dialogue with regional, state, and federal health officials to ensure we have the most up to date and relevant information related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. As of today, there still are no confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in the Spokane area. From the outset of this public health situation, our goal has been to remain calm and thoughtful in our decision-making process, avoiding reactionary or knee-jerk decisions that either do not improve health and safety or (worse) cause unnecessary fear and panic.
The vast majority of information shared in our March 3rd update (related to school closure, cleaning, and information updates) continues to be relevant at this time. That said, on Friday, March 6th, Spokane Regional Health updated their guidance related to “social distancing” for pandemic illnesses. This information, specific to school environments, recognizes that schools can play an important role in slowing the spread of diseases. Schools serve students, staff, and visitors from throughout the community many of whom have close contact in the school setting, often sharing spaces, equipment, and supplies. You can read (and download) the complete four-page guideline document below.
Please be aware of one key update in the March 6th version of this document: To combat the spread of COVID-19 (and given the increased spread of Influenza-A in our area), school nurses are being asked to implement the following recommendations:
- Students with a fever of >100.4 degrees, cough, or shortness of breath will be sent home.
- When to discontinue home isolation:
- If students or staff test positive for COVID-19: These individuals should remain under home isolation precautions for 7 days OR until 72 hours after fever is gone and symptoms get better (whichever is longer).
- If students or staff have fever with cough or shortness of breath, but have not been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and have not tested positive for COVID-19: They should stay home, away from others, until 72 hours after fever is gone and symptoms get better.
SRHD continues to remind the public that surgical masks are only recommended for staff or students with respiratory illness. Masking is not recommended for healthy students or staff.
Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) also continues to work closely with state and regional health agencies to provide school districts with information and support. As communities within our state prepare for and respond to a COVID-19 outbreak, OSPI has sent resources to school districts to aid in contingency planning. OSPI has also created a guide for parents and families that holds much of the same information. Those resources can be viewed using the following URL: https://www.k12.wa.us/about-ospi/press-releases/novel-coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-resources.
The webpage link above contains a tracker of school closures related to COVID-19. The tracker includes public and private schools, as well as higher education institutions. As mentioned previously another excellent source of information that educators and families should be monitoring is the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Novel Coronavirus webpage.