Dear Methow Valley Students, Parents, and Community Members,
As we begin to finalize our plans in support of a successful reopening of our schools, inclusive of in-person instruction, I can’t help but be impressed with the careful, calculated, and collaborative efforts of our school board, administrative team, staff, and community members. Further, I can’t help but share my appreciation for the ongoing consultation and support provided by our local public health officials and partners at Family Health Centers, not only in preparation for the reopening of our schools, but as we think forward about what it will take to keep our schools open.
As I look at the statistics (94% of schools in WA starting the school year 100% remotely) and plans involving districts like the MVSD who are reopening with a hybrid model in place, I notice many similarities in their plans. However, the one key component that I do not see in their plans, that I do see being implemented by schools in countries elsewhere that have been able to reopen and stay open is a regular and systematic plan for baseline and ongoing COVID-19 testing of its staff and students.
Yesterday, MVSD School Nurse, Adriana Vanbianchi and I met with our new partners at Family Health Centers. During our meeting, we explored the feasibility of facilitating free, reliable, baseline and regular COVID-19 testing that can provide our schools and families real-time information.
In brief, we developed a COVID-19 testing plan that includes the following:
- Free baseline testing for all staff the week of September 8-11
- Free baseline testing for all students the week of September 14-18
- Regular testing of staff every two weeks, replicating the COVID-19 incubation cycle
- Regular testing of students using a “controlled lab” or “random pooling” process, yet to be determined…
- All testing will be conducted at an individually scheduled time, on campus, with a nurse present using a quick, painless, self-administered nasal swab.
- All testing results will remain confidential.
- Further exploration into the possibility of implementing “rapid turnaround testing” involving students and staff who appear symptomatic, providing reliable results within 15 minutes of testing – A potential game changer during cold and flu season.
You can expect to receive more information about testing procedures and timelines early next week. And, while parents of students will be able to opt-out, I strongly encourage your participation.
“Schools Don’t Reopen Schools, Communities Reopen Schools”
As we approach Labor Day Weekend, please consider limiting your travel, participation in large group gatherings, practice social distancing, and wear your mask in public.
We look forward to seeing you soon!
Superintendent, Methow Valley School District