Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Nov. 30, 2022

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Clark County schools stick with longer quarantines for COVID-19

Shortened isolation periods are not yet extended to K-12

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

As students and teachers return from winter break this week, Clark County Public Health officials are identifying ways to maintain the highest level of safety while continuing in-person education.

Among those plans is the continuation of the state-recommended 10-day isolation period for those who test positive or have a close contact who tests positive.

On Dec. 27, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new isolation guidelines for the general public, shortening the recommended quarantine period to just five days. That timeline, however, has not yet been recommended for K-12 schools, according to the Clark County Public Health Department.

The Washington Department of Health will continue to follow existing COVID-19 requirements for K-12 schools and will monitor whether the CDC extends these changes to schools.

Seattle Public Schools, the state’s largest district, closed schools on Monday to test each of its students and staff members before returning to in-person schooling. Clark County’s largest districts, Evergreen and Vancouver, have remained open this week but are continuing to provide regular testing options for students and staff.

Evergreen Public Schools has approximately 5,000 rapid antigen tests in stock in schools and facilities across the district and has been ordering and receiving as many as 2,000 more test kits per week, according to district spokesperson Gail Spolar. Students and staff members are tested if they report symptoms or come in close contact with someone who had a positive result.

While Vancouver Public Schools isn’t testing at individual schools, it is continuing drive-thru testing from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Jim Parsley Center Complex at 4040 Plomondon St.

The Washington Department of Health has also increased testing frequency for student athletes, coaches, trainers and support personnel to three times per week, regardless of vaccination status.

Evergreen Education Association President Bill Beville supports the maintenance of the 10-day isolation period and added that a common goal is to continue in-person education with all the necessary safety precautions.

“We’re all on the same page about this. There’s no sense in shortening the quarantine timeline at this moment,” he said.

If more than 10 percent of a given class or school contracts the virus, it’ll prompt a temporary shutdown — a guideline that Beville recalled as being similar to how the district dealt with a measles outbreak in 2019.

While he would prefer a regular testing system like what’s being conducted in Seattle, he understands the logistical challenges that come with it.

“People have reached out, and the school board is in the process of considering it,” Beville said.

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