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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, December 18, 2020
Contact:
Magen Johnson, COVID-19 Public Information Specialist, 360-968-3422, or email at magen.johnson@co.thurston.wa.us 

New School Metrics and Recommendations for Thurston County Schools
Thurston County officials preparing to implement Governor Inslee’s recommendations

OLYMPIA – On Wednesday, Governor Inslee announced new school metrics and recommendations for public and private K-12 schools. Currently, Thurston County is at a 237.9 rate per 100,000 of newly diagnosed/confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the Governor’s risk assessment dashboard. The new framework and metrics move Thurston County from high levels of COVID-19 activity to moderate levels of COVID-19 activity, recommending a phased in approach to in-person learning for schools within the county. 

The new framework outlines the following metrics: 
  • Low levels of COVID-19 activity (<50 cases/100/14 days)
    • Provide in-person learning for all students
  • Moderate levels of COVID-19 activity (50-350 cases/100k/14 days)
    • Phase in in-person learning, prioritizing elementary and middle school students. If schools can demonstrate the ability to limit transmission, then add high school students when rates are below about 200 cases/100K/ 14 days.
  • High levels of COVID-19 activity (>350 cases/100k/14 days)
    • Phase in in-person learning in groups of 15 or fewer students for pre-K through grade 5 and those with the highest needs.  
Thurston County Health Officer, Dr. Dimyana Abdelmalek said, “We have been working together with school superintendents and the Washington State Department of Health to plan for this transition to a phased in approach to in-person learning in 2021 in anticipation of these new guidelines. The latest public health research shows this can be safely achieved at higher levels of disease activity than previously thought when all health and safety guidelines are strictly adhered to. We ask the public continue to help us bring our transmission rates down over this holiday season by avoiding travel and social gatherings, wearing masks, washing hands, abiding by quarantine if exposed to COVID-19, and getting tested quickly if symptoms develop.”  

Thurston County Public Health and Social Services (PHSS) Director, Schelli Slaughter added, “We are committed to bring children and educators safely back to school in alignment with the latest framework. We are planning to increase our public health capacity by hiring a dedicated team of case investigators and contact tracers to quickly respond to any school outbreaks and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our local schools. We expect to have more information to share in the coming weeks as we work together with school officials on details.”

For more information about Thurston County’s response to COVID-19, visit: https://www.thurstoncountywa.gov/phss/coronavirus

For more information about Department of Health K-12 Guidance – Schools Metrics and Toolkit, visit: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/DecisionTree-K12schools.pdf.

For more information about Department of Health K-12 School Testing Guidance, visit: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/820-113-K12SchoolTesting.pdf.

For more information about Department of Health K-12 School 2020-2021 Guidance, visit: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/FallGuidanceK-12.pdf.

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County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3