The 2021 Reopening of MVSD Schools, COVID, and Frequently Asked Questions

Dear Methow Valley Students, Parents, and Community Members,

COVID UpdatesThe Methow Valley School District will reopen our schools for full-time in-person learning starting August 25, 2021. In an effort to safely reopen our schools and better yet, remain open, we’ve assembled a set of “frequently asked questions” for your review.

PLEASE NOTE: Changes in our state’s response to this fluid and ever-evolving public health crisis will likely result in periodic updates to school mandates and guidance. We will make every effort to keep our COVID Updates page up-to-date in support of your ability to make informed choices regarding your student(s) and our collective efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, staff, and community. For the most current K-12 information please check our COVID Updates page.

We look forward to welcoming your students back to school! You can anticipate additional information will be shared with you by your students’ school and teachers.

Sincerely,
Tom Venable
Superintendent, Methow Valley School District
 


Frequently Asked Questions About COVID and the Reopening of Schools

Q: What do we know at this time?
A: On July 28, Governor Jay Inslee announced that due to an increase in COVID transmission rates and spread of the new, more contagious Delta variant in our state, that all K-12 schools are mandated by law to continue mask-wearing among students and adults inside schools regardless of vaccination status.

Q: Who is making the decisions about the safe reopening of schools in the State of Washington?
A: Washington State continues to take a public health approach to COVID and will reevaluate the mandate if rates decline. Currently, per the Governor’s proclamation, schools must continue to follow this mandate as well as follow all health and safety guidance provided by the DOH, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and Labor and Industries (L&I). State Superintendent Chris Reykdal issued a directive to all school district superintendents and school boards outlining mandated compliance for K-12 schools.

Q: What information is being used to make decisions about COVID protocols and the reopening of schools?
A: The Governor’s announcement aligns with the recent Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) updated recommendations for K-12 and extends the Washington State Department of Health’s (DOH) current guidance for reopening K-12 schools this fall. DOH has updated their guidance to reflect the new mandate.

State and local public health officials report that while children who get COVID-19 typically have milder symptoms than adults, children do get COVID-19 and can transmit it. Severe disease is rare, but some children require hospitalization. Further, the Delta variant, which is reported to spread more easily from one person to another compared to earlier strains has surged to become the predominant variant in Washington.

Q: Will there be health and safety measures in place?
A: Yes. The following mandatory measures will still be in place in the 2021–22 school year: face coverings for all students, staff, and visitors (regardless of vaccination status); improved ventilation; regular cleaning and disinfecting; and processes for responding to and reporting cases of COVID-19. Physical distancing “to the degree possible” is still recommended by DOH at this time.

Q: Will masks be required?
A: Yes. All school personnel, volunteers, visitors, and students must wear cloth face coverings (regardless of vaccination status), or an acceptable alternative (e.g., surgical mask or clear face shield with a drape), at school when indoors and when riding school transportation. Staff who are verified to be fully vaccinated may be indoors without masks when students are not present or expected to be present.

Q: Do school districts have the ability to make decisions about mask wearing at a local level?
A: No. Masking decision is not a choice being left to local school boards or superintendents.

Q: Will schools still be required to screen all students, staff, and visitors for symptoms?
A: No. For the 2021–22 school year, DOH removed the requirement that schools need to screen students, staff, and visitors at entry to school buildings. However, schools will continue monitoring students, staff, and visitors for symptoms, and follow the protocols for responding to someone who shows symptoms of COVID-19.

Q: Will the COVID-19 vaccine be required for students in fall of 2021?
A: No. The State Board of Health, which has the sole authority to set immunization requirements for students, is not requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for children in school settings. Public health officials strongly encourage vaccination among all eligible students, staff, and volunteers.

Q: Can an individual school district decide to mandate the vaccine for students, even if the state doesn’t?
A: No. State law (RCW 28A.210.140) provides full authority to the State Board of Health to establish the procedural and substantive requirements for immunizations for students.

Q: Is the COVID-19 vaccine required for all school district employees in the fall of 2021?
A: Not at this time. However, State Superintendent, Chris Reykdal recently stated, “As a state agency led by a separately elected official, OSPI has discretion over how we align our policies with the mandate. We intend to implement a vaccine mandate for our staff.”

Q: How many MVSD staff are currently vaccinated for COVID?
A: As of last spring, approximately 90% of all MVSD employees were reported to be fully vaccinated for COVID.

Q: Where can I find information about the COVID vaccine?
A: Questions about vaccination safety should be directed to your health care professional. Those who have not been vaccinated and wish to do so can make an appointment using the Vaccinate WA website.

Q: Will there still be an online option for learning?
A: Yes. The MVSD will continue to make online coursework available to students enrolled in the district’s K-8 R.E.A.C.H. program and student-selected online courses using OSPI approved online courses in grades 9-12 during the 2021-22 school year for families that wish for their K-12 students to learn remotely, part-time or full-time. Further questions should be directed to Paul Gutzler, MVE Principal at: pgutzler@methow.org, Crosby Carpenter, LBHS Principal at: ccarpenter@methow.org, or Sara Mounsey, ILC Principal at: smounsey@methow.org

Q: Where can I find additional resources regarding COVID and the reopening of schools?
A: Additional COVID-19 K-12 resources can be found at: