September 10, 2020


Dear Families and Staff,

Over the last six weeks we have been actively monitoring the COVID-19 data produced by King County Public Health (KCPH). As you recall, on July 23, I announced we would be starting the school year with the majority of students learning remotely. Since that time, the data related to the virus got worse before it started to become more promising. Additionally, since July 23, the Washington State Department of Health provided guidance to all school districts about when and how to reopen. This guidance was called the Decision Tree. During my July 23 announcement, I stated that we would use the KCPH Dashboard as one of our benchmarks for evaluating when to start bringing students back for in-person learning. The Decision Tree provided a slightly different metric than what I articulated but the transmission rate and number of cases in King County per 100,000 residents over 14 days (cases/100K) work in tandem.

On Wednesday, September 9, King County Public Health updated their Key Indicators page. I met with officials from KCPH on Wednesday morning and was made aware that these data were being reported. 

These data show improvements in key categories:

Transmission Rate:
To slow the spread of the virus, a community needs a transmission rate less than 1.0. 

✔ On September 9, King County has a transmission rate of 0.6.

 

Cases per 100,000 over 14 days:
The Washington Department of Health Decision Tree identifies districts as high-risk when cases are greater than 75 cases/100K over 14 days and moderate-risk when cases are between 25-75 cases/100K over 14 days.

✔ On September 9, King County has 65 cases/100K over 14 days. This places districts in King County in the moderate-risk category.

 

Key messages from King County Public Health for school districts and communities:

  • These are positive signs related to the spread of the virus.
  • Districts need to monitor data over the next 2-3 weeks in order to not make a change too early.
  • Districts need to be aware that the spread of the virus could have been accelerated by the Labor Day Weekend gatherings. Data related to an acceleration due to holiday gatherings will start to report in 10 days-2 weeks.
  • If the data holds, districts will be able to start making shifts per the Decision Tree guidance.

As an organization, our continued focus is the health and safety of our students, staff and families as we examine a return to in-person instruction. I am pleased to see the spread of the virus reducing and I am optimistic that with continued community efforts to slow the spread of the virus we will continue to remain in the moderate-risk category moving forward. Our team has continued to work on plans to return students back to school for in-person learning in accordance with the Decision Tree. The task of bringing more learners to campus for in-person learning is a transition similar to turning a dial. We will approach this transition thoughtfully to ensure the best outcomes related to learning, safety, and health for students, staff, and families are in place. We will continue to rely on the Department of Health Decision Tree, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction guidance, and other required agency guidance to plan our reopening for in-person learning. You can anticipate receiving additional communication from me on Friday, September 18 with an update.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jon Holmen, Superintendent
Lake Washington School District