Testing, monitoring will be emphasized
Managing the risk of COVID in school will be different this year, relying more on testing and monitoring symptoms to allow students to participate as fully as possible in learning and other activities while protecting students and staff.
The new guidelines for the 2022-23 school year come from the state Department of Health.
Students and staff who show symptoms of COVID (including fever, chills, cough, nausea and sore throat) are required to stay home and should get tested for COVID. Those who test positive must isolate at home for five days. If symptoms improve and the individual has no fever for 24 hours (without medication), they can return to school. They’re encouraged to test first.
People who’ve been exposed to COVID can continue to attend school and other activities but should test as soon as possible. They should monitor for symptoms and wear a mask for 10 days. People who test negative should test again every 24 to 48 hours for five days after exposure.
Anyone who tests positive after five days of isolation must stay at home for the full 10-day isolation period.
Students and staff returning to school after five days of isolation are encouraged to wear a mask for the next five days for classes, sports and extracurricular activities.
The Methow Valley School District will continue to offer free COVID tests for students and staff. Households can get free home tests through the state’s Say Yes! COVID test program.
COVID vaccines area available for children six months and older, and boosters are available for children age 5 and older. Check with your health care provider for more information and recommendations.
The school district will inform students, families and staff when there are cases or outbreaks in schools.
These state requirements apply to all K-12 schools and child care facilities in Washington.
State emergency ending
After two and a half years of a statewide COVID emergency, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that the emergency declaration will be completely lifted on Oct. 31.
Inslee imposed the emergency on Feb. 29, 2020, after the country’s first COVID case was reported in Washington. He announced the end of all remaining COVID emergency proclamations on Thursday (Sept. 8).
Almost all of the original 85 emergency orders have already been lifted. Inslee rescinded 12 proclamations related to health care facilities, hospitals and long-term-care facilities at the end of July; these take effect Oct. 27. The remaining 10 orders will expire on Oct. 31.
Masks will still be required for staff, patients, residents and visitors in health care and long-term care facilities even after the emergency expires.
“We’ve come a long way the past two years in developing the tools that allow us to adapt and live with COVID-19,” Inslee said. “Ending this order does not mean we take it less seriously or will lose focus on how this virus has changed the way we live. We will continue our commitments to the public’s well-being, but simply through different tools that are now more appropriate for the era we’ve entered.”
Even with advances including vaccines and treatments, COVID remains one of the deadliest infectious viruses in the United States. COVID kills more than 300 people nationally every day, including more than 10 people a day in Washington, according to Inslee.
Washington has had one of the lowest per-capita death rates from COVID in the country. If the rest of the nation had the same death rate as Washington, 433,000 lives would have been saved, Inslee said.
Vaccination requirements for health care and education workers will end, but employers will be able to require them if they choose. Vaccination will remain a condition of employment for most Washington state agencies.