LWSD returns to in-person learning with updated COVID-19 guidelines

New protocols come from the expertise of King County health department.

After having to switch to remote learning due to COVID-19 cases, LWSD resumed in person learning on Jan. 24 while updating COVID-19 protocols with the guidance of Seattle King County Public Health.

“Our leadership team has been connecting regularly during this surge with Seattle King County Public Health to identify areas of priority for our health and safety responses,” said Jon Holmen, Superintendent of LWSD, in a statement to the community.

The district relayed that they are working with healthcare providers in the community. LWSD will continue their partnership with SVNA (Seattle Visiting Nurse Association) for booster clinics this month, and they are actively exploring opportunities to engage with smaller and more hyperlocal clinics in the coming weeks and months.

Masking requirements for students and staff remain in place, although the school district will emphasize the proper mask wearing protocols, such as wearing the mask over one’s mouth and nose. According to LWSD, they have increased orders of face masks to support students and staff.

Students and staff should stay at home and undergo a COVID-19 test if experiencing more than one symptom for over 24 hours. If a student tests positive for COVID-19, school staff must be informed immediately.

Isolation guidelines for those who are sick with COVID-19 include isolating for five days after symptom onset, or after receiving a positive test result if the individual is asymptomatic. After five days, if an individual has no symptoms or their symptoms are resolving and they have had no fever in the past 24 hours (without using fever reducing medications, such as Tylenol), they can return to school or work.

Students and staff returning from the five-day isolation period must monitor for symptoms while wearing a well-fitting mask around others for ten days.

LWSD plans to expand COVID-19 testing and have ordered tens of thousands of rapid antigen tests, according to Holmen. Rapid antigen tests will be delivered to the warehouse, then distributed across schools.

“As our supply increases, we will begin phasing in a test-to-stay model where students can opt to test rather than quarantine. Currently, the supply chain is constrained, so it will take time for us to phase in the test-to-stay model,” stated Holmen.

LWSD will continue to operate PCR testing centers for students and staff who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

For contact tracing, close contact letters for both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals will be sent out. Schools within the district will submit a single daily notification for case(s) rather than sending schoolwide notices for each case.

If a school receives a high number of positive COVID-19 cases in a single day, a school wide message will be sent to provide notice of potential close contacts.

Close contacts who are 18 years or older and received the primary series of the vaccine, but are not boosted, and those who are under 18 years of age who have not received a primary series of the vaccine are required to quarantine for five days. Previously, the quarantine period was ten days.

“Students and staff must wait to receive a negative test result from a test taken no sooner than day 5 post-exposure and provide the negative test documentation to the school before returning,” stated Holmen.

Students and staff who experience a COVID-19 exposure are not required to quarantine if they are 18 years or older and have received all doses of the vaccine, including booster doses and additional primary doses for those with compromised immune systems.

Students ages 5 to 17 who have completed the primary vaccine series, and those who have received a positive COVID-19 case within the last 90 days are also not required to quarantine.

LWSD will continue to update their COVID-19 dashboard. According to Holmen, positive COVID-19 cases must be reported to Seattle King County Public Health by the district, but not close contacts. These changes will be reflected on the dashboard.

To visit the COVID-19 dashboard for LWSD visit https://www.lwsd.org/pathway-forward/health-safety-dashboard