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School board responds to COVID presentation with change

 

Last updated 1/27/2021 at 8:49am

A graph in a presentation shown to the school board Monday shows the local Covid case rate above the school district's new threshold for in-person schooling for nine days as of last Friday. The board decided to set that threshold of 350 per 100,000 residents as of Jan. 25. If it stays above that for 14 days or more, by the new policy, in-person schooling will stop.

Lake Roosevelt Schools have continued in-school teaching even when local infection rates of COVID-19 crossed a threshold set by the school board, a teacher showed its directors Monday night.

A committee that will be tasked with informing school staff and the public about the latest Covid developments in the area is one result from Monday's meeting of the Grand Coulee Dam School District Board of Directors.

Teacher Pam Johnson, during the public comment period of the meeting, presented facts, and later opinions, concerning the school district's approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Johnson's PowerPoint presentation showed the district's changing policy regarding Covid, and how at times school has continued to take place in person, despite Covid rates crossing the thresholds set by the board that were meant to limit when in-person school could take place.

The district's threshold has loosened from 75 or fewer cases per 100,000 residents to 200. Now the state's threshold has gone up to 350 or fewer, as announced by Gov. Jay Inslee in December.

Johnson also spoke about the shift toward using the district's specific rate, based on five local zip codes whose students the district serves, as opposed to using only Okanogan County's rate.

The Covid rate specific to local zip codes is only available once a month from Okanogan County Public Health, but with Covid numbers fluctuating so often, a more regular report is needed, she said.

A discrepancy in numbers was also a concern, with tribal-reported numbers sometimes differing from what Okanogan County was reporting. 

Johnson suggested, among other things, forming a committee that would stay current on Covid developments locally and report their findings regularly to district staff and parents.

Updating the district's website regularly with current Covid policies and numbers was another of Johnson's suggestions.

Later in the meeting, the board decided to take Johnson's advice to form a committee that would also update the school's website on Fridays.

The board discussed the importance of working with people from the Colville Tribes, Grant County and Okanogan County to insure accurate numbers. 

The board also voted to use the state's rate of 350 or fewer cases per 100,000 residents as the threshold for whether to have in-person school. Going above that threshold for 14 days would result in closing down in-person school; going below that threshold for 14 days or more would be cause to reopen.

As of Friday, the district had been above that threshold since Jan. 14, by Johnson's local zip code calculation. The board decided to start that policy as of Monday night, Jan. 25.

 

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