COVID-19 & District Communications

Sequim School District & COVID-19 UPDATES:

April 3rd 2020

Sequim School District Families,
It has been a quick week with Spring Break not really feeling like a break. Last night Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, pushed the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” mandate to May 4th changing the already fluid timeline for us back another week. I realize this only adds more questions, and I am working diligently to acquire answers that fit for both our Sequim students. Thank you for your patience as we continue to navigate through this unprecedented time.  

Students Well-Being
It would not surprise me if your student has been struggling with some behavioral issues. This is to be expected  in children, and I encourage you to respond gently. We are all struggling with disruption in routine, none more than children, who rely on routines constructed by others to make them feel safe and to know what comes next. Expect increased anxiety, worries and fears, nightmares, difficulty separating or sleeping, testing limits, and meltdowns. Do not introduce major behavioral plans or consequences at this time—hold stable and focus on emotional connection.

 

Grab and GO Lunches
With this “new normal” of staying home and staying healthy in effect, I make keeping a routine high on my priority list. For many students, that routine is dictated by when they can take meal breaks. In the last week we have been able to serve over 300 meals to students both at the site locations as well as the bus routes. This number will continue to climb as we journey through this closure. Please, if you need a meal allow us to partner with you in taking care of your students.

 

Skyward
Is your Skyward account current? 
Would you take a few moments and login to your skyward account and confirm all the information is correct? This will be an important key in contacting families and keeping students engaged in school work in the coming weeks. If you have any problems with updating your skyward please email mroragen@sequimschools.org with: your request need, your name, students name, phone number and email address. Staying connected will be KEY in the ability to see each student Thrive during this remote learning season. 

Update on School Work and Grading 
In accordance with OSPI guidelines, SSD will “continue making every effort to provide seniors with meaningful learning that enables them to earn the credits required to graduate.” OSPI is also encouraging districts to utilize a Pass/Fail option for second semester in lieu of letter grades. SSD is currently determining guidelines for earning credit. Guidelines will be posted as soon as they are finalized.   


Senior Parents 
Please expect an invitation to a Virtual Zoom meeting early next week.  The topic will be graduation.  It is our desire to have some type of ceremony.  Looking forward to your input.

 

To say our Teachers and Staff miss your students is a vast understatement. Stay healthy Sequim families!

 Dr.  Rob Clark, Superintendent


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March 27th 2020

Sequim School District Families,

The first full week of remote learning is complete. I hope you and your family were able to find some joy during this very uncertain and rapidly changing time. Like all other school districts in Washington, we are working hard to encourage families to engage in home learning as much as you can, while recognizing each family is in their own unique situation regarding work, health and child care. It is likely that our instructional learning plans will continue to adapt and change in the weeks to come, and we thank students and families in advance for your patience as we adjust our systems. Our main priority is always the safety and well-being of the students and community we serve.

 Spring Break is still Spring Break
Teachers will not be assigning homework during this time. Let’s hope the weather cooperates and you and your students can enjoy the beautiful place we live.

 FREE Internet Access Available
Nikola Broadband has set up a WiFi access point in the JC Penny parking lot with the help of KSQM and Clallam PUD.  This access point is to aid community access and children's learning during this unprecedented time.  This access point is FREE to use during the hours of 6 AM to 10 PM.  This access point will not operate outside of these hours.  There is a lot of room in this parking lot, so please practice social distancing and stay in your vehicles to keep your family and community safe.  We ask that you leave the rows of parking open near the businesses that are still operating.

The name of the network is: Kids_learning_Community_Access. There is no password to connect. Connections are limited to 5Mbps / 5Mbps per connected device.

Paving Fir Street 
Asphalt paving for West Fir Street work will take place Tuesday March 31st, 2020 through 
Thursday April 2nd, 2020 from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and is weather dependent. At times, a detour route will be in place directing traffic around the Sequim Avenue and 5th Avenue intersections with Fir Street while crews complete intersection paving. These intersections will not be closed at the same time. All construction activity will meet the social distancing and appropriate health and worker protection measures required by Washington State Governor Jay Inslee.

 *The work will be performed by Interwest Construction and Lakeside Industries.

For more information, please contact Sequim’s Department of Public Works at (360) 683-4908.

 Meal Delivery
FREE Grab and Go Breakfasts/Lunches will continue during the Week of Spring Break (Monday, March 30th-Friday, April 3rd) at both the Drop-in locations and the Bus Routes that started this week. Please view the attachment for delivery locations and drop in locations are listed below.

 Meals are available at the following locations:

•Greywolf front entrance 11:30-12:30pm

• Sequim Middle School side entrance of the cafeteria 11:30-12:30pm

 The Boys and Girls Club will be delivering meals to the following locations:

• Mountain View Court Apartments 12-1pm

• Elk Creek Apartments 12-1pm

• Seabreeze Apartments 12-1pm

• Boys and Girls Club 12-1pm

 Bus Routes and Times

SKYRIDGE GOLF COURSE @ 9:10                                                  

CASINO PARKING LOT @ 9:15

ROBIN HILL PARK @ 9:15

N. BARR SOCCER FIELD @ 9:20

W. NELSON RD & OLYMPIC @ 9:25

SHERBURNE & ATTERBERRY @ 9:30

AGNEW GROCERY @ 9:35

CRITTER COUNTRY @ 9:40

HOGBACK & CAYS GRAVEL AREA @ 9:40

R CORNER GROCERY STORE @ 9:50

GRAVEL AREA AT FISH HATCHERY RD @ 9:50

VOICE OF AMERICA ENTRANCE @ 9:55

CONESTOGA RV TRANSIT STOP @ 10:00

FUEL STATION AT BOTTOM OF TAYLOR CUT OFF @ 10:05

EAST END OF JOHN WAYNE PARKING LOT @ 10:10

RIDGEVIEW DRIVE & RIDGE PL @ 10:10

O’BRIEN RD TRANSIT STOP @ 10:15

INDEPENDENCE DR @ 10:25

MARTHA LANE GRAVEL AREA @ 10:25

SEQUIM LITTLE LEAGUE FIELDS @ 10:25

BLUE MTN TRANSFER STATION @ 10:33

DUNGENESS MEADOWS @ 10:40

HOUSE RD & COTTONWOOD LN @ 10:45

MANY FEATHERS & WOODCOCK @ 10:50

DUNGENESS SCHOOL HOUSE @ 11:05

 Please continue to take care of yourself, your family, and loved ones. Sequim School District is committed to keeping you informed and sharing information as it becomes available.

Enjoy Spring Break 

Dr. Clark
Superintendent

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March 25th, 2020

Sequim School District Families, 

We hope you and your family are Staying Home and Staying Healthy. Please know that we miss our students and are looking forward to their return. We believe it is important for our teachers to continue to reach out to their students. Please look for communication from them, in various ways, at least two times a week. Our teachers continue to work diligently to provide resources and instruction during this remote learning transition. Thank you for your continued patience while we navigate new opportunities for learning. Currently, we are still waiting for guidance from OSPI regarding grades. Until then, the Skyward grade portal will not be available.

School Playgrounds 
To help minimize the spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus), the Sequim School District has closed the following playgrounds to the public to enforce Governor Jay Inslee’s order banning all gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational purposes, effective immediately:

 • Greywolf Playground closed 24/7

• Helen Haller Playground Open 8:00-4:00 for use by Boys/Girls Club only

• Old Community School Playground closed 24/7

 It is important that we follow the guidelines of what has been asked of us as Washingtonians. We need to keep practicing Social Distancing as we “stay at home and stay healthy”. We cannot do that if we are packed in at a playground. Thank you for your understanding as we race to flatten the curve.

 Communication
Unable to access Skyward? Not receiving text alerts? Please reply to your skyward email and include your student name to get access and set up with text alerts. 

CEE Survey
If you haven’t had an opportunity, please take a moment to complete the important survey you received in your Skyward email. If you did not receive the link, please email tnorman@sequimschools.org. Your feedback is crucial for us to know what you consider our strengths and our opportunities for growth.

 Dr. Rob Clark
SSD Superintendent

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March 23, 2020
Sequim School District Families,
We are excited to share that starting Wednesday, March 25, 2020, our transportation staff will begin our meal delivery service to our students utilizing our school busses!

If you can access one of the drop off locations below, please practice the following:
1.) Arrive early. Each bus will be at the location for 10 minutes only.
2.) Continue to practice Social Distancing while waiting for the bus and meals to be distributed by staff.
3.) Please check your Skyward email for further details.

STOP LOCATION 
SKYRIDGE GOLF COURSE @ 9:10
CASINO PARKING LOT @ 9:15
ROBIN HILL PARK @ 9:15
N. BARR SOCCER FIELD @ 9:20
W. NELSON RD & OLYMPIC @ 9:25
SHERBURNE & ATTERBERRY @ 9:30
AGNEW GROCERY @ 9:35
CRITTER COUNTRY @ 9:40
HOGBACK & CAYS GRAVEL AREA @ 9:40
R CORNER GROCERY STORE  @ 9:50
GRAVEL AREA AT FISH HATCHERY RD @ 9:50
VOICE OF AMERICA ENTRANCE @ 9:55
CONESTOGA RV TRANSIT STOP @ 10:00
FUEL STATION AT BOTTOM OF TAYLOR CUT OFF @ 10:05
EAST END OF JOHN WAYNE PARKING LOT @ 10:10
RIDGEVIEW DRIVE & RIDGE PL @ 10:10
O’BRIEN RD TRANSIT STOP @ 10:15
INDEPENDENCE DR @ 10:25
MARTHA LANE GRAVEL AREA @ 10:25
SEQUIM LITTLE LEAGUE FIELDS @ 10:25
BLUE MTN TRANSFER STATION @ 10:33
DUNGENESS MEADOWS @ 10:40
HOUSE RD & COTTONWOOD LN @ 10:45
MANY FEATHERS & WOODCOCK @ 10:50
DUNGENESS SCHOOL HOUSE @ 11:05

Meal pick up will continue March 23-March 27. Please note the new changes to the FREE Breakfast and Lunch pick up locations. The Boys and Girls Club have added the Mountain View Court Apartments as a new location and have cancelled the Carrie Blake Park location.
Meals are available at the following locations:
 Greywolf front entrance 11:30-12:30pm
 Sequim Middle School side entrance of the cafeteria 11:30-12:30pm
The Boys and Girls Club will be delivering meals to the following locations:
 Mountain View Court Apartments 12-1pm
 Elk Creek Apartments 12-1pm
 Seabreeze Apartments 12-1pm
 Boys and Girls Club 12-1pm
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March 20, 2020

Dear Sequim School District Families,

Sequim School District continues to follow the guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Public Health—Clallam County in our efforts to disrupt the spread of COVID-19 and in alignment with new state requirements.  Sequim School District remains closed until at least Monday, April 27 in response to Governor Inslee’s Emergency proclamation on March 12.

We will continue to keep you informed as we learn new information and provide resources as they become available. Until further notice, you will receive communication from the District Office on Mondays and Fridays of each week.

Student Meal Distribution
Free grab and go lunch and breakfast will continue to be available Mondays-Fridays. Anyone 18 years old and under can receive meals. No forms or registration are required. Students can drop by to pick up a meal.

 Meals available at the following locations:

  • Greywolf front entrance 11:30-12:30pm
  • Sequim Middle School side entrance of the cafeteria 11:30-12:30pm

The Boys and Girls Club will be delivering meals to the following locations:

  • Carrie Blake Park 12-1pm
  • Elk Creek Apartments 12-1pm
  • Seabreeze Apartments 12-1pm
  • Boys and Girls Club 12-1pm

Meal service will be expanded next week. We will utilize transportation staff and busses to take food to designated areas. Look for detailed information Monday. We will be following Department of Health recommended social distancing protocols.We want to thank our incredible employees including nutrition services staff, drivers, custodians, and everyone who helped distribute meals this last week, we know we can serve more so please come by one of these locations and get food. Our staff continue to show up and care for students while navigating an unpredictable situation. We are so proud to be a Sequim Strong Community.

Learning from Home
A huge thank you to our Sequim educators who have already reached out to families and students and provided learning packets on Monday, March 16th, 2020. Regarding student work, we continue to wait for clear direction from OSPI . The following is an update from correspondence on March 18. I am asking teachers to keep giving work and checking it in.  After work is handed in, students should wait for the next round of work.  For grades 9-12 much of this work will be required. This may or may not be true at K-8 level. What is unclear right now is grading.  We do not know if the schools will continue to give letter grades (A-F) or give Pass or Fail (P or F). Skyward grades will be turned on when we know the answer. Please continue to correspond with teachers and visa-versa.  On the afternoon of March 23rd, we will update this situation.  Thank you for your patience.

 

Questions about Volunteering
Many of you have expressed interest in helping our students. The district’s nutrition services team, current educators, and other staff are currently filling the need as they are still working during the COVID-19 Closure. Sequim School District would like to thank the overwhelming amount of people who have reached out to ask how they could help/volunteer. Currently, we are not in need of volunteers. But rest assured, there might be a day in the future we ask for help from our Approved Volunteers list.  

Talking to your Students about COVID-19 
As more information is shared about the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), you may notice your child experiencing a wider range of emotions such as worry and fear.  In addition, with the closure of schools and not being able to interact with friends, school staff, and other caring adults on a regular basis, some children might also experience sadness and frustration. There are many steps you can take to support your student during these times. Here are some ideas for families:

 

  • Reassure your child that all feelings are normal
  • Make time to talk with your child about their feelings and questions
  • Limit screen time and access to social media
  • Pay attention to what your child is watching and reading and for how long
  • Model positive self-care strategies, your child is learning how to manage their emotions from the caring adults in their life
  • Provide honest information that is age appropriate and avoid sharing assumptions about who is sick with COVID-19
  • Work with your child to develop a consistent “new” daily routine

 

We recognize this is a very challenging time. The magnitude of change and uncertainty can take a toll on your personal wellbeing while you are also supporting the wellbeing of your family. Please take care of yourself. We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.

Dr. Rob Clark
Superintendent
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March 16, 2020

Free grab and go lunch and breakfast will be available starting Tuesday March 17. Anyone 18 years old and under can receive meals. No forms or registration are required. Students can drop by to pick up a meal.

Meals available at the following locations:
Greywolf front entrance 11:30-12:30pm
Sequim Middle School side entrance of the cafeteria, 11:30-12:30pm

The Boys and Girls Club will be delivering meals to the following locations:
Carrie Blake Park 12-1pm
Elk Creek Apartments 12-1pm
Seabreeze Apartments 12-1pm
Boys and Girls Club 12-1pm

We will be following Department of Health recommended social distancing protocols 
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March 16, 2020

Sequim School District WILL BE OPEN today and following a regular late start Monday. We look forward to seeing our students and passing along closure information. Please continue to monitor Facebook, the website and your Skyward email.

Thank you
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March 13, 2020

Dear Sequim School District Staff and Families,

We are in the midst of an unprecedented health and safety event. We know the community is concerned about COVID-19, and we absolutely share your concerns.

Conditions and responses are evolving rapidly, and districts have announced school closures following state and health agency recommendations. This afternoon, Governor Inslee announced his Executive Order to close all schools in the state of Washington effective Tuesday, March 17 through April 24, 2020.

This means all Sequim School District schools will be open Monday March 16 and closed thereafter.

 We know this raises all kinds of questions and implications including childcare needs for our staff and families, school meals, graduation, and much more. We are working on plans to address a range of impacts, and we will be in constant communication as we work through these issues.

 We will be planning for an alternative model with the following services:

*Available childcare during school hours for families who serve in critical community roles such as healthcare and first responders.

*Available meals for students – details to follow

*Available educational resources with supports for at-home learning

We recognize this closure creates many different challenges, and our goal is to provide basic services ton continue supporting our families and our community. We will continue to provide updated information over the next several days, and we would ask for your patience in submitting any questions or concerns.

We are so grateful for your patience and understanding as we continue to work through these difficult times.

Thank you for your partnership and support

Rob Clark

Superintendent

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March 12, 2020

Thank you for your continued patience and support during this time. Please know I continue to participate in numerous conference calls and webinars throughout the day with our local and statewide agencies. Our administrative staff is also meeting frequently and briefed with the most up to date information.

I just participated in a conference call with Dr. Allison Unthank, Clallam County Public Health Officer, and her recommendation is to keep schools open based on the following information:

*As of today, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Clallam County

*Schools are incredibly safe and closing schools is not helpful

*There are inadequate child care opportunities in our area

*There is no evidence that closing schools is safer for children and adults

Many of our students are very dependent on the meals we serve. We respect some parent’s decision to have their students stay at home. This situation is fluid and may change after the weekend. 

Schools will be open tomorrow March 13. 

We will continue to update you as we receive information. Information can be found on our website and Facebook Page.

Superintendent Rob Clark
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March 11, 2020

COVID 19 Update from Superintendent Dr. Clark​

I have spent the last two days in conversation with Health Officials and fellow superintendents regarding the COVID-19 virus.  Currently, there is not really any change in their recommendations.  There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Clallam County.  That said we recognize there will be one soon. 

Until then we are keeping schools open and not postponing or canceling activities.  Governor Inslee has a press conference this morning with new information and other information.  We will heed his recommendations and those of Clallam County Public Health.

Our absence rate yesterday (3/10) was:

GW-7%

HH-8%

OPA-6%

SMS -6%

SHS- 5%

These are good numbers, better than during flu season earlier in the year.  We continue to take precautions and are cleaning highly effected areas regularly. I will relay additional information as it comes available.

Thank you for the support and patience.  

The post below is from the King County Health Department:

Additional information about school recommendations:

Public Health is not currently recommending that schools proactively close unless they have a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a staff member or student.

This guidance may have been confusing for some families and schools because schools bring together large groups of children. School closures have significant negative impacts on our community. We will be providing additional information to schools about how to stay open safely. The considerations we have taken in our decision not to currently recommend routine closure at schools include:

Children are not known to get seriously ill from COVID-19

Closing schools may not be effective because some children may congregate anyway, at other locations

Many parents, such as healthcare workers, need to be at work. If these critical workers stay home with children, it causes significant impacts on the healthcare system and other institutions that are essential for our community to function

If schools close, some children might have to stay home with alternative caregivers, such as elders, who are more vulnerable

We don't know how effective children are in spreading this disease

Some children and staff may be at higher risk for severe illness because of underlying health conditions or a weakened immune system. Public Health advises that those people consult with their healthcare provider to decide the best course of action.

Public Health also respects each individual school's decisions about closures, postponement of activities, or other social distancing measures – as each school knows the needs of their community best.

Public Health is continually assessing our decision not to require the widespread closure of schools. We are continually evaluating information as it becomes available to better inform our decisions about proactive school’s closure.

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March 4, 2020

Please review the latest communication from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. 
The purpose of this bulletin is to provide additional guidance to school districts on the topics below as they relate to COVID-19:

Student attendance

Waivers for missed days and instructional hours

Distance learning

Previous guidance can be found on OSPI’s Novel Coronavirus webpage. 

STUDENT ATTENDANCE

Many districts, parents, and guardians have expressed concern about student absences related to COVID-19 safety concerns. State law requires school administrators to excuse absences due to student safety concerns as well as absences due to illness, health condition, or medical appointment (Washington Administrative Code [WAC] 392-401-020). The WAC also provides districts with the authority to define additional categories or criteria for excused absences should the need arise.

We know that fears may be high as identified cases increase, particularly for families with loved ones living in the home who have a compromised immune system. Please exercise great caution before deciding not to excuse absences related to COVID-19 and starting the truancy process because of them. 

WAIVERS

State law requires that school districts offer 180 school days and make available to students enrolled in grades 1–8 at least a district-wide average 1,000 instructional hours, and a districtwide average of 1,080 instructional hours for students in grades 9–12. However, OSPI is legally authorized to continue state apportionment support for school districts that cannot fully provide the required number of school days or instructional hours due to an emergency district-wide or school closure (RCW 28A.150.290(2)).

If a school district is required to or elects to close schools in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, districts should make every effort to make up missed time, including using scheduled vacation days and planned school closure days. 

 If and when it’s needed, OSPI will file an emergency rule to allow the agency to waive the days and instructional hours that districts won’t be able to make up. This rule will be in effect for the

2019–20 school year only. OSPI intends to require in the rule that school districts applying for COVID-19-related school day or instructional hour waivers must extend their school year through June 19.

Once a district has made efforts to make up missed time, they will be expected to submit an application for an emergency waiver to OSPI, as they have always done. This year, we will be developing a web-based application for school closures related to COVID-19. As always, OSPI expects districts to hold off on submitting their request until they know the extent of the school closures (April and May are good months to send the application).

 OSPI will waive school days and instructional hours for school districts that close schools due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Waiver requests will be approved whether state or local health authorities order the school closed, or if the school district reasonably determines that a school closure is in the best interest of the health and safety of its students and personnel. Districts should feel confident in knowing that if schools are closed for an extended period of time, they will not be required to make up missed days and instructional hours beyond June 19.

 Please note, it is our expectation that districts will maintain their graduation timelines.

DISTANCE LEARNING

Some districts and schools may be in a position to maintain educational continuity using distance learning methods, and you may choose to implement these options. It is important to note that if educational services are being delivered to students in any form, for the district to remain open, those services must be provided to all students, including students who don’t have access to technology at home and the continuance of a free and appropriate education to students with disabilities in accordance with their Individualized Education Programs (IEP). If students with disabilities are not provided services in accordance with their IEP, then they cannot be counted for continued state funding. 

In addition, districts need to consider how distance learning will affect students who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals. 

For most of you, it will likely make more sense to cancel school and/or district services and make up or waive missed days than to deploy a distance learning model that can be accessed by some, but not all, of your students.

OTHER REMINDERS

As this situation unfolds, please know that OSPI’s Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) includes provisions for ensuring ongoing apportionment payments and other school district supports in the event of emergency situations such as widespread infectious disease outbreak. School districts’ COOPs and other contingency planning should include provisions to ensure payroll processes will continue in the event district operations are placed on hold.

In addition, if districts are experiencing school closures, they should follow their standard parent/guardian notification procedure: calls, emails, texts, contacting local news stations, and others.

INFORMATION AND ASSISTANCE

For general questions regarding this bulletin, please contact Martin Mueller, Assistant Superintendent of Student Engagement and Support, at 360-725-6175 or email martin.mueller@k12.wa.us. The OSPI TTY number is 360-664-3631.

For specific questions about attendance, please contact Krissy Johnson, Lead Attendance Program Supervisor, at 360-725-6045 or email krissy.johnson@k12.wa.us. 

For specific questions about obtaining a school day waiver, please contact T.J. Kelly, Chief Financial Officer, at 360-725-6301 or email thomas.kelly@k12.wa.us. 

For specific questions about online learning, please contact Nicole Gonzalez, Manager for Online Learning, at 360-725-6058 or email nicole.gonzalez@k12.wa.us.

For specific questions about Alternative Learning Experience, please contact Anissa Sharratt, Manager for Alternative Learning, at 360-725-4954 or email anissa.sharratt@k12.wa.us. 

For specific questions about special education, please contact Glenna Gallo, Assistant Superintendent of Special Education, at 360-725-6075 or email glenna.gallo@k12.wa.us. 

For specific questions about civil rights compliance, please contact OSPI’s office of Equity and Civil Rights at 360-725-6162, 360-664-3631 (TTY), or equity@k12.wa.us. For relevant guidance regarding how schools can protect civil rights during an outbreak, see the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights Fact Sheet released during the 2014 Ebola outbreak. 

This bulletin is also available on the Bulletins and Memos page of the OSPI website. 

Michaela W. Miller, Ed.D., NBCT

Deputy Superintendent

Martin Mueller

Assistant Superintendent

Student Engagement and Support

CR:mm

OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at 360-725-6162/TTY: 360-664-3631; or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200; or equity@k12.wa.us. 

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March 2, 2020

Please review the following information from the Department of Health regarding COVID-19

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and Schools Information for School Nurses and Administrators

 Background

Many parts across the world are experiencing an expanding outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus. This virus can spread from person-to-person and the number of cases detected in the United States and many other countries is growing.

 Currently, the immediate risk to the general public in Washington and the United States is considered to be low. There is no evidence that COVID-19 is spreading in Washington at this time.

As new information emerges, please remind your community that the risk of COVID-19 is not at all connected with race, ethnicity or nationality. Stigma will not help to fight the illness. Sharing accurate information during a time of heightened concern is one of the best things we can do to keep rumors and misinformation from spreading.

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually cause mild respiratory illnesses such as the common cold. Some coronaviruses have caused more severe illness, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus that was not identified in humans before December 2019.

What are common symptoms of COVID-19?

Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. It takes 2 to 14 days after a person gets the virus in their body to become ill. COVID-19 is a new disease, and we are learning more each day about its symptoms and how it is spread.

How does the virus spread?

Most often, it is spread from person-to-person via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how flu and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

It’s currently unclear if a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or their eyes. Often, with most respiratory viruses, people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).

Who should seek medical evaluation for COVID-19?

Students, staff, and volunteers who are:

Ill with a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing AND have traveled from China in the last 14 days

Ill with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing AND have been identified by public health officials as a recent close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case or had recent close contact with someone who is being evaluated for COVID-19 infection.

What should I do if I suspect a student, staff member, or volunteer is at risk for COVID-19?

If a student, staff member, or volunteer meets the above criteria, it is important to place them in a private room away from others and ask them to wear a face mask. Immediately notify your local health department. They will provide you with guidance.

Should children returning from China stay home from school for 14 days?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers from China (including school students, staff and volunteers) arriving in the United States AFTER February 2, 2020 at 2 p.m. stay at home, away from others, and monitor their health for 14 days. This measure was put in place because of the increasing number of cases of COVID-19 in China. If these individuals develop a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing during this 14-day period, they should call their local health department and healthcare provider to tell them about their symptoms and recent travel.

What can I do to prevent COVID-19 in my school?

Schools do not need to take any special precautions beyond what is normally recommended to prevent the spread of viruses in schools. You can help students and staff reduce their risk for getting and spreading viral respiratory infections, including the flu and the common cold, by encouraging them to take simple steps which will also prevent COVID-19. These include:

 Staying home when they are sick.

As with any new emrging infectious disease, knowledge evolves with time.

Early on, it is difficult to know the ways in which the disease spreads, how effectively it spreads from person to person, and how severe the infection is. We will continue to update the DOH novel coronavirus website as more information becomes available.

Frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after they blow their nose. Help young children do the same. If hands are visibly dirty, use soap and water to clean hands.

If soap and water are not readily available, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Advising persons to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Following the school’s routine cleaning and disinfection program. Emphasizing to clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Covering coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash and cleaning hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer (if soap and water are not readily available).

Urging students and staff to get a flu shot during the flu season.

 Providing adequate supplies for good hygiene, including clean and functional handwashing stations, soap, paper towels, and alcohol‐based hand sanitizer.

Cleaning and disinfecting procedures

Special processes beyond routine cleaning are not necessary nor recommended to slow the spread of respiratory illness. Schools should follow standard procedures for cleaning with third party certified “green” cleaners and disinfecting with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered disinfectant with a claim for human coronaviruses. Typically, this means daily sanitizing surfaces and objects that are touched often, such as bathrooms, water coolers, desks, countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, hands‐on learning items, faucet handles, phones and toys.

Disinfecting is the responsibility of school custodial staff. They are trained to use disinfectants in a safe and effective manner and to clean up potentially infectious materials and body fluid spills – blood, vomit, feces, and urine. Contact your custodian or school nurse if students are ill and your classroom needs cleaning and disinfection.

Clean the surface first to remove all organic matter. Custodial staff should follow the disinfectant manufacturer’s instructions for use including:

Using the proper concentration of disinfectant

Allowing the required wet contact time

Paying close attention to hazard warnings and instructions for using personal protective items such as gloves and eye protection

Using disinfectants in a sufficiently ventilated space 

Schools and districts must have a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each chemical used in the school.

Where can I turn for more information?

Novel Coronavirus Outbreak 2020, Washington State Department of Health

2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Guidance for Travelers, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Schools (K-12) and Child Care Programs Guidance, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Classroom Cleaning - Tips for Teachers, Washington State Department of Health

Handwashing to Prevent Illness at School, Washington State Department of Health

Infectious Disease Control Guide for School Staff, OSPI, 2014 (PDF)

COVID-19 Schools Presentation - February 25, 2020 (PDF)

Washington State Department of Health novel coronavirus call center: 1-800-525-0127 and press #