SVSD Reopening Plans On Hold Due to Increasing COVID-19 Cases

The latest from Snoqualmie Valley School District Superintendent Robert Manahan

Dear Snoqualmie Valley families,

During this pandemic school year, our school district continues to monitor and assess a number of factors as we prepare for the eventual return of students for in person learning. Factors that contribute to our decisions include: King County COVID data, local COVID data, school and district readiness, staffing capacity and concerns, community/family preferences, and our ability to quickly respond to exposures and clearly communicate with families.

While we’ve been able to address many of these factors, recent developments are causing us to put a HOLD on the timing for our current plan for bringing back students on a phased approached.

Currently, regional King County COVID conditions are experiencing another uptick in positive cases. As of yesterday, October 15, King County’s COVID-19 transmission for the past two weeks had increased to 92 confirmed cases per 100,000 – placing our region in the “high activity” range (defined by Public Health as 75+ per 100,000).  In addition, there has been an increase in confirmed cases in North Bend, with the 98045 zip code reporting 104.4 cases per 100,000, and the City of North Bend increasing to a rate of 205.0 per 100,000.  According to the Washington State Department of Health’s Decision Tree for K-12 In-Person Learning guidance, when COVID rates indicate high activity, they “strongly recommend distance learning with the option for limited in-person learning in small groups, or cohorts, of students for the highest need students, such as students with disabilities, students living homeless, those farthest from educational justice, and younger learners.”

We are also continuing to negotiate with our employee associations on topics involving safety training and concerns, staff availability, new schedules and assignments, and readiness for reopening and we hope to reach agreement on these key issues soon.

Unfortunately, given the high COVID-19 activity rates in King County and North Bend, and on-going staff capacity and concerns, we will need to pause our current plan for reopening in phases, and have the majority of students to continue with remote learning, until further notice.

With one exception, we will continue our efforts to serve some of our small groups of students with specialized learning needs, in-person. Our elementary specialty classes and middle school life skills teachers have been preparing for bringing their students back next week, and they are ready to make this transition happen safely on Monday, October 19.  In addition, in-person services at our Transition Learning Center will continue as they have been.

What putting our plan on hold means:

  • All grade levels will continue on their established Distance Learning 2.0 schedules.
  • This includes the preschool program (also anticipated to start in-person next week). They will continue remotely for now.
  • Also, new Kindergarten schedules will not be available today as planned.
  • Our staff will continue to prepare for the eventual switch to hybrid learning, and welcoming students back in our buildings in-person — so we are poised to implement that transition quickly and effectively, when that time comes.

We will continue to monitor conditions, checking each Wednesday when new King County numbers are typically updated – and watching for a decreasing trend in rates at least two consecutive weeks.  At that point, we will decide if we are ready to move forward and conditions support attempting a phased approach again. When we make that decision, the district will notify SVSD families at least seven days prior to any re-start date, to give families time to plan and prepare.

We regret the disappointment and inconvenience this delay may cause for you and your family.  We are continuing to tackle the challenges of this pandemic — re-inventing learning models to keep students and staff as safe as possible, while supporting the needs of students and staff and preferences of families.  We miss our students dearly, but we also must follow science-based data and guidance from local public health experts.

In the meantime, attached is a new resource: our online SVSD Return-to-School Safety Handbook for Families.  This resource summarizes many of the prevention strategies, site modifications, safety precautions and response protocols that will be implemented to keep our students and staff as safe as possible when we resume in-person learning.  This guidance will be updated when needed, as information and guidance from public health continues to evolve.  We hope this will help families know what to expect when schools reopen – and understand the shared responsibility that student and families will have to help keep schools safe. 

Please read this information thoroughly and help your students prepare for changes ahead when they return in person.  (Today this is presented online. We’ll provide a pdf version too, for those who want to print a copy next week.)

Stay safe!

Robert W. Manahan, Ed. D

Superintendent, Snoqualmie Valley School District

Comments

  1. What is the mortality rate for elementary-school-age children from COVID-19, and how does it compare to the mortality rate from influenza, for the same cohort?

    Doesn’t Science demand an answer?

    • You can do the math based on the CDC weekly provisional COVID death report. Common flu is far worse for young people, but we all know orange man bad and the ends justify the means, so we have to sacrifice our childrens’ education and the future of the nation for the opportunity to harm trump.

      Stick together people! We can do this! Only a few more weeks then we can forget about COVID!

  2. You clearly are not acknowledging the nature of an infectious viral disease, James.
    Children gathered in classrooms become can become superspreaders, and everyone is vulnerable.

    Read a book. Preferably one covering the subject of viral disease transmission.

    Bye.

  3. Well there are about 7500 people in north bend, so 205 per 100k is about 15 cases, or 2 tenths of 1 percent. But saying 205 sounds more scary, so I guess we go with that! And never mind that CDC just announced 85% of recent cases were masked sheep, so I guess those things really help, right? All the raw data consistently shows how much of a nothingburger COVID is and still people act like this is an Ebola outbreak.

    This whole fiasco is such a sad referendum on the stupidity of Americans.

  4. Chris Lodahl says

    First the 85% issue that Trump spread is not what the CDC said and like always was misrepresented or fake news. Second issue is how Covid is spread and yes kids can spread it to me, you and our neighbors. The US has one of the highest Covid rates in the world — why? Poor Federal Government leadership /no plan / people are expendable philosophy. The Vietnam War cost 58,000 American Servicemen and it tore the country apart. The US is now at 220,000 deaths or almost 4 Vietnam Wars and still climbing. The rest of the world also has problems from Covid — just ask Boeing. And for those who recovered from the Covid the next issue facing the country/world for decades to come will be the post medical Covid conditions as they get older. Be sure to VOTE. The mailman left my ballot at 1pm and at 2pm I was at the Post Office to mail it.

  5. “EVERYONE” has the propensity to throw out what they’ve heard as fact, whether it has come from a conversation, radio, tv, internet or the President. These “Facts” often get twisted to support the general belief of the person quoting them and the greater the significance this information has to that person, the more exaggerated those facts can be.
    The 85% number came from a CDC study conducted in July and released in September, check the link https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6936a5.htm#contribAff
    The report states that 85% of the 154 patients that tested positive wore a mask either always or almost always, this is very different than saying 85% of the people that wear mask catch COVID-19. The report also stated that 89% of the 160 patients that had symptoms but tested negative wore a mask either always or almost always.

    If you read the detail of the report, there are very interesting statistics. As an example, 41% of those testing positive had gone to a restaurant within the previous 14 days and 19% of them never wear a mask, 40% of them wear a mask either most or half the time.
    8.5% of those testing positive had been to a bar or coffee shop within the 14 days prior and 32% of those patients never wear a mask, 54% of them wear a mask either most or half the time.
    There are many more interesting pieces of data in the report but another one that is interesting to me is that 65% of the patients that tested positive were in close contact with family or friends that were infected with COVID-19. This information was not in the report but I would venture to say that most of those patients, and the ones infected were not wearing masks when they were together.

    A couple final facts from the CDC about mask wearing:
    – mask wearing reduces the spread of COVID-19
    – The greatest benefit of wearing a mask is that it reduces the possibility of a person infected spreading COVID-19
    – A person can be infected with COVID-19 and not know it. This means saying that you’re not infected doesn’t make sense unless you’ve just been tested negative or you’ve been in complete isolation for the last 14 days.

  6. And the sky is blue.
    Here’s a little Epidemiology 101 for you, James.
    Take a group of people vulnerable to a viral infection (and right now with C19 this is *everybody* because unlike the flu there is no clinically approved, available vaccine) and split them into age groups, then identify the CFR (case fatality rate) in each of those groups.
    Now let’s say its noted that in the lowest age group, the CFR is observed to be minimal relative to the others. And let’s also say that members of that group tend towards asymtomatic.

    That this group has a relatively lower CFR does not make them safer for other people to encounter. In fact it makes them potentially much, much more dangerous to the population at large.

    What do you expect occurs when you allow that younger group to participate in closely gathered educational programs, with high contact, inside enclosed spaces, and then have them in turn return home — 5x/week — into an environment populated by members of the higher risk groups?

    What happens then is: you increase transmission, and kill people in more vulnerable population segments.

    And this is why kids are not being allowed back into schools yet.

  7. Sal Leveque says

    We all need to be mentally prepared that until we have an effective vaccine widely distributed, nothing is going back to normal. As terrible and damaging as year-long online school is to children and their development, we need to focus on the positive aspects — it is getting them prepared to be in the future professional workforce, where most are and will be working from home permanently. Government did us no favors when they implied this was a short term crisis. Expect the status quo until fall 2021, or even 2022. Until we get a vaccine, nothing can go back to normal.

    • If you could just realize this virus isn’t as scary as the media wants you to believe. You live in constant fear and believe that somehow a vaccine is going to be the answer.

  8. Zylo,
    Well that’s just like, your opinion man.
    I don’t listen to the media for medical advice.
    I listen to doctors, and read peer-reviewed journals of medicine and science, publishing research findings authored by people whose jobs it is to discover and know things, instead of spewing empty rhetoric on the internet.
    If you really think this virus isn’t scary or dangerous, you’re welcome to volunteer for clinical trials.

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