Return to Learn - COVID Testing


April 16, 2021

 

Dear  South Whidbey Staff, Students, Families and Community, 

 

In collaboration with the Washington State Department of Health, our school district is participating in a state-funded effort to provide voluntary COVID-19 testing that will be incorporated into our existing district reopening plans to further help contain the virus, protect our communities, and keep students and teachers safe and healthy whether they are remote or in-person.

 

We recognize that the pandemic has been hard on everybody. Many of us know someone who has been sick or have a family member who is high-risk. Our students miss their friends. Our teachers miss their classrooms. Our parents are balancing work and school from home. We have all been slowly adjusting to living with COVID-19, and while it’s still hard, we know much more now about how the virus behaves and what we can do to stop it.

 

We believe that safe, in-person schooling is a priority – it’s better for students, it’s better for teachers, and it’s better for our economy because it helps parents get back to work. We are excited about vaccines, but we also know that production, delivery, and vaccination of everybody in our community is going to take some time. And, even if you’ve been vaccinated, certain symptoms or situations would indicate testing for COVID-19.

 

Protocols like daily symptom checks, referring symptomatic people for testing, and prevention practices like masks and distancing will be part of school life at least through the end of this school year, and likely through the 2021-22 school year.

 

We continue to adapt our school practices so that we can minimize risk, contain and control the virus, and keep students and teachers safe in classrooms.

 

Here is how the voluntary testing protocol will work: (1) daily symptom and exposure check, (2) free and easy same-day COVID-19 testing, (3) an outbreak response plan, (4) contact tracing, and (5) isolation or quarantine.

 

Infection prevention protocols: Our schools are already implementing several layers of protection to mitigate COVID-19 transmission and prevent infections. These include wearing face masks, social distancing, improved ventilation and air filtration, improved cleaning and disinfection, adjustments to foot traffic patterns, hybrid scheduling and cohorts to reduce the number of contacts.

 

Daily Wellness Screening: We are asking teachers, staff, students to complete a daily symptom and exposure check throughSkywardor apaper form.


Voluntary testing: Teachers, staff and students who show symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 will be referred to one of our campus health rooms where you can get a free test that day. We will also provide free testing to teachers and staff who do not have symptoms upon request. If the test is positive, they will be asked to isolate for at least 10 days and until symptoms have resolved. If the test is negative, they will be asked to isolate until symptoms have improved.


  • Oral swab tests: We’re partnering with a company calledCurative, which uses painless oral swab test kits. With these kits, you collect your own saliva sample under the observation of a trained test administrator, and the experience feels like brushing your teeth. These tests are as reliable as the PCR nose swabs that you may have heard about, but they’re easier to administer and they don’t hurt. Curative will train people designated by the school to hand out and collect the test kits, samples are sent to their lab daily.

 

Outbreak response: When a positive case is identified, the school will activate its outbreak mitigation testing plan, offering free and easy testing to everyone who has had contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. All of these contacts will be asked to quarantine for 14 days, regardless of the test results, in order to prevent further household or community transmission (note that we are being extra cautious in requesting a quarantine period longer than the 10-day CDC guideline).

 

Contact tracing:As usual, every positive case will be reported to the county health department for case investigation and contact tracing, in order to prevent further transmission.

 

Support during isolation and quarantineI

Support resources are available in our community throughIsland CountyandReadiness to Learn. We may be able to refer you to resources that can help with paid sick leave, temporary unemployment insurance, grocery delivery, mental health supports, and other services during isolation and quarantine (checkCare Connect WA). By staying at home and avoiding outside contact during the temporary isolation and quarantine period, you will be doing your part to protect our community and keep our schools open.

 

This testing protocol fits into our larger strategy to contain and control the virus, and all of our protocols are fact-based. Please see ourdistrict reopening plan .We are still making changes to allow for social distancing, and we are still asking everybody in our community to mask up, wash their hands, avoid crowds, and watch out for symptoms. Each precaution we take is like an added layer of protection, and when used together, they dramatically decrease the risks. 

 

Our goal is to put the best possible strategies in place so that our teachers, staff, students and families feel safe, protected, and comfortable focusing on teaching and learning—and so our students can get the great education they deserve.

 

Additional details about how to set up a testing appointment will be provided to staff via email. Families will be contacted by phone if their student is being referred for testing. For all additional inquiries contact your school nurse by phone or email (K-6 School Nurse:Emmy Atwoodeatwood@sw.wednet.edu) (7-12 School Nurse: Marcia Statz mstatz@sw.wednet.edu)



Sincerely,


Jo Moccia, Superintendent

South Whidbey School District

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