Weekly Update from the Superintendent

May 11, 2022

Dear students, staff, families and community, 

The Department of Health and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction just released an update for guidance through the end of this school year.  Basically, the guidelines support what we are currently doing in school and at school events.  I have pasted the summary at the end of this email because I don’t have a link yet.  However, you can view the following comprehensive publication that was just released from the Department of Health:  FORWARD-The Next Phase of WA's Response (through 2022).

The Mount Baker Coalition will be hosting a town hall, “Strengthen Hope Through Connection,” in partnership with Mount Baker School District at Kendall Elementary School on May 25 from 4:00 to 7:30 p.m.  There will be fun activities and a resource fair as well as a free meal at 5:00 p.m.  A Panel Presentation, “Skills & Resources:  Building Blocks of Hope for Families & Youth,” is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.  There will be a supervised child play space provided.  Join us to eat, learn, and connect.

Just a reminder that next Wednesday, May 18 is our last early release on Wednesdays for this school year.  The five remaining Wednesdays will be full days.  May 27 there will be no school for students with the exception of seniors sharing their PRIDE presentations.  Monday, May 30 there is no school to honor Memorial Day. 

Congratulations to retired teacher and coach, Jim Freeman for being inducted into the WIAA Hall of Fame!  During his 26 years of coaching cross country, he led his teams to five State Championships while adding three more with in boy’s track.  He also served our District as a School Board Member from 1999 to 2017.  A huge thanks to Mr. Freeman for making a positive difference in the lives of so many students and families through his many years of service to Mount Baker!

Go Baker!

Mary Sewright

Looking ForWArd to the 22-23 School Year

Thank you, Washington School Educators!

The 2021-2022 school year has been another year where courage, perseverance, and partnership has been key to maintaining school health and safety for the continuity of student learning. DOH appreciates your leadership, and your efforts—in the face of ever-shifting difficulties and challenges—to serve our children, families, and communities. We extend our heartfelt thanks!

K-12 Guidance

What will K-12 guidance look like in the spring and fall?

The Washington Department of Health intends to keep the DOH K12 guidance the same for the rest of the 21-22 school year. Any future changes to it or, a timeline of potential changes or shifts, will be communicated in July and/or early August.

Will DOH provide additional guidance for culminating school events or summer programs?

No. The current K-12 and Childcare Guidance as well as the recently updated Overnight Camp Guidance provides current requirements and recommendations for spring and summer.

COVID-19 School Testing in 2022-2023

What will the school testing system, testing supplies, and labor force funding look like?

DOH is committed to continuing the Learn to Return program to support school testing next year. This program will continue to provide:

  • Ready access to COVID-19 testing resources (PCR, point-of-care antigen and molecular tests, and over-the-counter tests)
  • Direct labor support for in-school staff to assist with COVID-19 testing
  • Direct financial support to extended 9 regional ESD positions for continued coordination
  • On-demand technical assistance to support schools with testing implementations
  • Continued communications to keep schools informed of guidance and available testing supports

We anticipate the following changes to Learn to Return:

  • Evolution of COVID-19 testing supply resources made available to emphasize distribution of rapid antigen and over-the-counter tests
  • Explore access to rapid nuclei acid amplification tests (NAATS) to provide on-site confirmatory testing, following DOH clinical guidance recommendations
  • Transitioning certain external labor support services to provide on-site testing clinics on an as- needed basis

Can unspent Labor Funds from the 21-22 SY be rolled over?

Yes, unspent funds approved by DOH to support direct labor support for in-school staff to assist with testing activities in 2021-2022 can be carried over to the 2022-2023 school year. There will also be opportunities for new schools/districts to apply for this funding in 2022-2023.

DOH/K12 Partnerships

In what ways will DOH strengthen partnerships and program outcomes of shared K-12 priorities in the 22-23 SY? 

The DOH school-connected teams and programs across the agency are collaborating to:

  • Align the timing, and frequency of messaging from DOH to PK12 school partners that is proactive in planning, and responsive to the school timeline.
  • Convene a PK-12 Collaborative which consists of teams within DOH connected to children, youth, and schools’ work. The purpose is to make visible, align and leverage the range of work (internally) that support K12 schools for a cohesive, intentional collective impact.
  • Foster collaborative partnerships and workgroups between DOH school-connected teams, sister agencies, and PK-12 partners to capitalize on what we have learned from each other throughout the pandemic, for the purpose of effectively and equitably supporting public health and education’s shared priority of health and safety for the continuity of student learning.

Work in all three areas have already begun; more information for schools and districts will begin to be released in late July and early August.

COVID-19 Current Status

What key resources will help school and district leaders know the COVID-19 risk in their communities and schools?

The DOH COVID-19 Dashboard provides status updates including current community transmission rates, hospitalization rates, and vaccination rates by age. COVID-19 Data Dashboard | Washington State Department of Health.

Another available DOH resource for schools (and the public) is the COVID-19 Cases Among Children and Youth in Washington report that is updated weekly. 

The COVID-19 K-12 Schools Outbreak Report provides trends in outbreaks this year. It is retrospective but indicative that when community rates go up, outbreaks in schools go up as well.