North Central Washington – On Friday, August 7, 2020 the Health Officers for Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan, and Kittitas counties, released the Region 7 K-12 Guidance for Reopening to Classroom Instruction. This document outlines the expectations of the Health Officers for in-person instruction. Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases the Health Officers agree that, until the COVID incidence rate decreases, in-person instruction is not safe or recommended in North Central Washington. As of this date, based upon best available evidence, the Health Officers of Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Kittitas, and Okanogan counties support the following approach, which reflects Washington State Department of Health guidance:
- Schools and educators must be considered “essential businesses” and “essential workers”
- Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment must be made available for staff and students to minimize risks during classroom instruction
- Appropriate funding must be made available for engineering controls to minimize risks during classroom instruction
- All accommodations made for other essential businesses should be extended to schools and educators, inclusive of remote education continuing through any future stay home orders.
- The county Health Officers do not support a return to in-person classroom instruction when the county’s incidence of COVID-19 is above 75 cases per 100,000 for 2 consecutive weeks (14 days).
- The county Health Officers do support a hybrid approach with K-5 and other educationally high-risk groups in-person in classrooms with COVID precautions when the county’s incidence of COVID-19 is less than 75 cases per 100,000 for 2 consecutive weeks (14 days).
- The county Health Officers support return to in-person classroom instruction for all student populations, with COVID-19 precautions, when the county incidence of COVID-19 is 25 cases per 100,000 for 2 consecutive weeks (14 days).
- School districts may petition the local public health jurisdiction for an exception to these reopening thresholds and other standards. Such petitions should be founded in evidence, on a reasonable basis and with supporting rationale.