Raymond Elementary School resumed on-site learning Monday — on Thursday, the school district sent a letter to parents saying, “An individual at Raymond Elementary School has tested positive for COVID-19.”
Raymond School District Superintendent Steve Holland said there are no immediate plans to alter the current school reopening routine after one positive test, and protocols are in place and strictly adhered to that should allow for on-site learning to continue.
Several other Pacific County schools have already allowed students back, or are about to. There’s a listing of some additional schools later in the story.
“We were pretty certain that at some point we were going to have a positive case,” said Holland. “However, what’s been interesting as we’ve gone through this process we have found that the protocols we are using actually work. As far as the health department is concerned, if we didn’t break the protocols we have the system in place to handle this.”
No details have been released about the individual who tested positive due to federal health information privacy laws, and there is no indication of whether the person who tested positive is a staff member, teacher or student.
“We had six adults and 19 students who came in contact (with the individual who tested positive), and they were all following the protocols, and that allows us to continue going to school,” said Holland.
Pacific County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Steven Krager issued a letter to Pacific County schools Sept. 17 authorizing a phased reopening of on-site learning for elementary age students.
Pacific County Emergency Management Director Scott McDougall said Krager, the health department and school districts have been meeting weekly since mid-July to talk about school school operations. Friday he said, based on one positive case, there is no immediate need to change reopening plans.
“We’ll take a look at the metrics,” said McDougall about the future of on-site learning in the county. The cases per 100,000 population metric is a key driver of school operations. Currently, Pacific County is around 50 cases per 100,000 in the previous two weeks. “If we get up into 75 or above and stay there for more than three weeks, then we would consider re-evaluating.”
For Grays Harbor County, where public schools are all in distance learning mode, as of Wednesday the case rate was 183.4 per 100,000 people over the last two weeks.
McDougall said Pacific County residents can expect frequent updates on the situation from emergency management and public health in the coming days.
“If your child is not identified as a close contact and has no COVID-19 symptoms, testing is not recommended and the risk of infection is low,” said the letter from the Raymond School District. “Simply having a case of COVID-19 in your child’s school does not require any restrictions unless your child is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19.”
Protocols include the wearing of masks, frequent cleaning and sanitizing and maintaining social distancing. The district provided the following list of “musts” for students to return to school:
1. All children must wear a mask on the bus and in school. It must be a mask, not a bandana or gaiter. If you cannot provide a mask, we will provide one.
2. Each child must bring, every day, a form, signed by a parent, that states he/she is not showing signs of illness. A copy of this form included in the letter. Students will receive a package of these forms on their first day of school.
3. Meals will be provided to students when they are at school. Those students will also be given breakfast and lunch to take home for the time they are not at school.
4. Students are expected to eat breakfast prior to coming to school; breakfast will not be served at school. Lunch will be served.
Parents were informed that the district is working with the Pacific County Health Department, tracing who may have had close contact with the individual who tested positive
“Anyone identified as a close contact will receive another notification, in addition to this letter, with information on required actions and support resources,” read Thursday’s letter. “If you do not receive an additional notification, then your child was not identified as a close contact and their risk of infection is low.”
The letter urged all parents, even those with children who were not identified as a close contact with the positive test, to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms in their children, which can appear two to 14 days after exposure.
If symptoms are detected, “the health department recommends seeking medical evaluation if any of these symptoms develop in the next 14 days,” said the letter. Parents of students who develop symptoms should notify the elementary school principal and remain in quarantine until medical evaluation and testing is completed.
Raymond Elementary school reopened for on-site learning Monday. Students were split into two groups, some returning Monday, some Tuesday. One group is on-site Mondays and Wednesdays, the other Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The district plans to resume on-site learning for students in grades 7-12 Monday, Oct. 19. As part of COVID-19 precautions, the students will not have lockers so should bring a backpack.
Other Pacific County school districts have resumed on-site learning.
South Bend Superintendent Jon Tienhaara announced late last month that the junior/senior high school would reopen Monday, Oct. 12, under a hybrid model. The most current plans for grades 7-12 has two groups of students meeting during different days of the week, with Wednesday a remote learning day.
Face masks are required and social distancing and other safety measures will be followed. Parents are required to submit a daily health attestation for students attending in-person classes via text message and/or email.
Mike Morris Elementary School reopened for grades K-6 Sept. 28. South Bend early learning resumed operations Oct. 5.
Willapa Valley starting their “rolling start” return to classrooms in late September with grades 1 and 2 Sept. 23 and grades 3 and 4 Sept. 29. Grades 5 and 6 came back Oct. 5.
Long Beach welcomed back second graders Sept. 28 and 29, and first grade was added Sept. 30. Opening week at Ocean Park Elementary was scheduled to begin this week.
For specifics on each Pacific County school district, check out their Facebook pages. Each district’s website can be accessed at https://www.k12academics.com/national-directories/school-district/Washington/Pacific.