• 3/9/22

     
    State updates COVID-19 mitigation requirements, guidance

    In addition to the statewide mask mandate lifting on March 12, the state Department of Health (DOH) released updated Requirements and Guidance to Mitigate COVID-19 Transmission in K-12 Schools. The DOH document outlines the remaining requirements for K-12 schools, along with optional measures to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure in educational settings. Here is a summary of the updates:

    Masks

    • Optional: Beginning March 12, masks are optional for students and staff in school buildings and on school buses. Our District will not tolerate bullying of any kind based on the choice to wear or not wear a mask. Masks will continue to be provided for those who choose to wear them.
    • Required: Masks must be worn in a school’s health room or isolation room. DOH may also require masks during an outbreak within a classroom or extracurricular group.

    Staying home

    • Required: Individuals experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must stay home and isolate regardless of vaccination status. Those testing positive for COVID-19 must isolate at home for a minimum of five days. Students may return to school days 6-10 if they wear a well-fitted mask OR test negative with an antigen or at-home test.

    Notification

    • Required: We will continue to notify staff, students and families when we have a confirmed case of COVID-19 on site. Those notified of potential exposure should monitor for symptoms.
    • We will discontinue contact tracing, unless directed by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department in response to outbreaks.

    Testing

    • Required: We will continue to ensure access to diagnostic testing for COVID-19 for students and staff.
    • Athletic testing and Test to Stay is no longer required.

    Optional mitigation measures

    • We will continue practicing these optional strategies to help limit the transmission of COVID-19:
      • Increased ventilation
      • Frequent handwashing
      • Cleaning and disinfecting
      • Social distancing to the degree practical

    We remain committed to providing a safe environment for our students and staff by continuing to follow state and local health requirements and guidelines. Thank you for supporting our students, staff and community.


    2/28/22

    Additional changes to statewide school mask requirements; masks optional beginning March 12
     
    Today, Governor Inslee announced a change to the date the statewide indoor mask mandate will lift. Instead of March 21, the statewide mandate – including in schools – will lift at 11:59 p.m. on March 11. This change is in alignment with announcements this morning by Oregon and California.
     

    This means that beginning March 12, masks will become optional in our school buildings and on school buses. Our District will not tolerate bullying of any kind based on the choice to wear or not wear a mask. We will be working with our labor partners to make sure we address health and safety concerns given the new guidance.

    Until March 12, masks will continue to be required for all students, staff, and visitors in all Sumner-Bonney Lake School District buildings and on buses. Masks will continue to be provided for those who do not have them. 

    Thank you for your continued flexibility and understanding as we navigate the changing requirements together.


    2/18/22

    Pierce County follows mask removal mandate; masks optional in schools March 21 

    SBLSD Families, 

    We have supplemental news to share about the governor’s removal of the statewide mask mandate as it pertains to Pierce County and Sumner-Bonney Lake School District. 

    The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) today announced they will follow Gov. Inslee’s timeline and lift the indoor mask requirement for Pierce County on March 21. While the mandate will end, TPCHD continues to recommend that students and staff wear masks in schools until outbreaks decline and vaccination rates improve.

    Note: Federal law still requires masks on school buses.

    SBLSD will not tolerate bullying of any kind based on the choice to wear or not wear a mask. We will be working with our labor partners to make sure we address health and safety concerns given the new guidance. 

    If you have questions or concerns about removal of the mask mandate, please contact TPCHD: 

    • Call (253) 649-1412 (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday) 
    • Email info@tpchd.org

    Laurie Dent, Ph.D.
    Superintendent 
    Sumner-Bonney Lake School District


    2/17/22

    Gov. Inslee announces changes to mask mandate

    SBLSD Families,

    Thank you for your patience and support through yet another round of changes during this pandemic. Here’s a summary of what Gov. Inslee announced at today’s 2 p.m. press conference regarding school districts.

    Highlights from the press conference 

    Per Gov. Inslee, the statewide indoor mask mandate will be removed effective March 21. 

    • In school buildings 

    Once the statewide mask requirement lifts, barring a new requirement from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, masks will become optional in our school buildings.

    Until March 21, masks will continue to be required for all students, staff, and visitors in all school district buildings. Masks will continue to be provided for those who do not have them, and students who will not wear masks will be sent home.

    We are legally required to follow the governor’s directive, which currently requires masks in school buildings. Please know that local health departments still have the authority to require or recommend masks at a county level. The Sumner-Bonney Lake School District and our Board of Directors do not have local control over this matter. 

    • On school buses 

    Important note: Federal law still requires masks on buses, regardless of state mandates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to revisit that order mid-March.

    Other COVID-19 mitigation protocols

    We recognize there are likely questions about other COVID-19 requirements, such as physical distancing, contact tracing and testing. State Department of Health officials will release updated guidance for K-12 schools by the week of March 7, to help schools prepare for a transition.

    Preparing for masks to become optional, we will remind students, staff and families of our policies that prohibit harassment, intimidation, or bullying based on individual choices. The District will not tolerate bullying of any kind.

    We will continue to work with state and local health authorities for any potential changes, and we’ll provide updates as we have them. We remain committed to providing a safe environment for our students and staff by continuing to follow health requirements and guidelines. 

    Thank you for supporting our students, staff and community.

    Laurie Dent, Ph.D.
    Superintendent
    Sumner-Bonney Lake School District 



    2/16/22
     
    Gov. Inslee set to announce next phase of C-19 response Feb. 17

    SBLSD Families,

    In my message to families on Monday, “Monitoring pandemic-related changes,” I promised to provide updates as I receive them, keeping you apprised of any changes made at the state level.  

    Governor Inslee will hold a press conference Thursday, February 17 at 2 p.m.  to discuss the latest COVID-19 trends, and plans for transitioning to the next phase of Washington state’s COVID-19 response. He will be joined by:

    • Umair Shah, MD, MPH, secretary, Washington State Department of Health 
    • Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary for COVID response, Washington State Department of Health

    The press conference will be livestreamed by TVW.

    If Governor Inslee announces changes to the mask requirements as we expect, we will follow up as soon as possible to let you know what changes were made and when they go into effect.

    Laurie Dent, Ph.D.
    Superintendent
    Sumner-Bonney Lake School District 


    2/14/22

    Supt Message: Monitoring pandemic-related changes

    SBLSD Families, 

    The last two years have been challenging for students, staff and families. Through it all, with every twist and turn, we stayed committed to providing a safe and quality education for every child.  This year, our priority has been to keep school open, everyone safe, and students learning. Our staff have met this goal in ways I can’t even begin to describe. Students are making academic progress, forming relationships with their friends, and enjoying being back in the school building full time. 

    Last week, Governor Inslee and State Superintendent Reykdal talked about lifting mandates and rolling back restrictions. I know many of you are wondering how upcoming changes will impact our district. At the local level, Pierce County Superintendents are working with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department to gain deeper insight and further understanding of what might be on the horizon. Based on what I’m learning, I anticipate changes in current practice will happen soon. Like many, I’m awaiting further announcements from the Governor and WA State Department of Health on what new guidance will look like for schools.  Once I know what’s going to happen, our team will work as quickly as possible to understand how decisions made at the state level will impact our students and staff. 

    From the very beginning of the pandemic, we have relied on local health authorities to guide our decision making. While not popular at times, these decisions were made in accordance with the Department of Health guidelines and requirements. Staying true to our decision-making model, we will continue to follow updated guidance issued by our local health authorities. 

    I will continue to provide updates as I receive them, keeping you apprised of any changes to our current practices. In the meantime, we will continue to follow the current mitigation strategies to keep everyone safe and school open.  

    Thank you, again, for your patience and understanding. 

    Laurie Dent, Ph.D.
    Superintendent
    Sumner-Bonney Lake School District


    2/7/22

    Updated COVID-19 guidance for children ages 2-4 years

    The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) updated COVID-19 guidance for children ages 2 to 4 years. The update includes shortening isolation and quarantine timelines if students meet certain criteria, such as wearing a well-fitted mask. 

    SBLSD will send an email and phone call if your child is deemed a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19, with instructions for next steps. Below is a summary of the updated DOH Guidance for Child Care, Youth Development, and Day Camps During COVID-19, along with a chart showing isolation and quarantine options by age group. 

    Isolation 

    • Who does this affect: Tested positive for COVID-19, have symptoms or awaiting test results.
    • What to do: Stay home and away from others for 10 days. 
    • When to return to school: May return after 5 days of isolation if symptom free or symptoms are improving, no fever and wearing a well-fitted mask for 6 to 10 days.

    Quarantine

    • Who does this affect: Exposed and deemed a close contact of someone who is COVID-19 positive.
    • What to do: Stay home and away from others for 10 days after the date of exposure. Get tested for COVID-19*. 
    • When to return to school: May return after 5 days of quarantine with a negative test and wearing a well-fitted mask for 6-10 days.

    chart by age group

    If you have questions, please contact Elementary Executive Director Beth Dykman, (253) 891-6069. 

    *DOH does not recommend students ages 2 to 4 to participate in SBLSD’s Test to Stay Program, nor does the District administer COVID-19 tests. Find information on where to get tested and how to receive free at-home tests at tpchd.org/gettested

     


    1/9/22

    COVID-19 Update: Shortened quarantine and isolation periods

    Effective immediately, the COVID-19 quarantine and isolation period is shortened from 10 to 5 days for students and staff. This is based on updated K-12 COVID-19 Requirements for 2021-22 School Year from the Washington State Department of Health.

    Here’s a summary of the guidance, which was updated on Jan. 7:

    Isolation 

    Any student or staff member who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate at home for at least 5 days, regardless of vaccination status. They can return to school when the following criteria are met: 

    • 5 days* have passed since symptom onset, or since positive test specimen collection date if no symptoms are present. Note: People who are severely ill or severely immunocompromised may need to isolate for up to 20 days.
    • No fever within the past 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications and other symptoms are resolving.

    Students and staff should continue monitoring for symptoms and wear a well-fitting mask around others through day 10 (days 6-10) both in and out of school, including during extracurricular and sports activities. 

    Quarantine Due to Close Contact 

    Students and staff who come into close contact with someone with COVID-19, and who are not experiencing symptoms themselves, should quarantine for at least 5 days (day 0 through day 5) after their last close contact* with a person who has COVID-19 if they are in one of the following groups: 

    • Ages 18 or older and have completed the primary series of recommended vaccines, but have not received a recommended booster shot when eligible. 
    • Those who are not vaccinated or have not completed a primary vaccine series.

    *All of these groups are eligible for Test-to-Stay (information coming soon)

    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. A school-provided rapid antigen test, home test, or test from a healthcare provider may be used as proof of a negative result. 

    Close Contacts Who Do Not Need to Quarantine 

    Students and staff who come into close contact with someone with COVID-19 do not need to quarantine if they: 

    • Are ages 18 or older and have received all recommended vaccine doses, including boosters and additional primary shots for some immunocompromised people. 
    • Are ages 5-17 years and completed the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines. 
    • Had confirmed COVID-19 within the last 90 days.

     We continue to increase our mitigation measures and follow DOH’s Supplemental Considerations to Mitigate COVID-19 Transmission in K-12 Schools. Thank you for your continued support to help maintain safe and healthy teaching and learning environments for students and staff.

    *For household exposures, this would be the last day the person with COVID-19 is considered infectious.