Transitioning from Pandemic to Endemic

Dear Students, Parents, and Community Members,

Multicolor hot air balloon with a person in the basketToday, Governor Inslee hosted a press conference. During his press release, he announced that he believes we’re approaching a place of transition that will likely include the removal of the current state mandate requiring masking in public places, inclusive of schools.

He further stated that he is not ready to take action at this time. However, pending the epidemiological information provided to him by state health officials, coupled with what has been witnessed in places elsewhere both nationally and internationally that appear to be ahead of the curve, he suggested that he may be ready to announce a tentative timeline for such a change as early as next week.

As part of the transition from pandemic to endemic, State Superintendent, Chris Reykdal has voiced his support for the removal of masking stating,

“As part of my recommendation to the Department of Health and the Governor, I expect schools will continue to have rapid tests on-site to quickly assess symptomatic students, staff, and close contacts. Those who test positive will continue to isolate and quarantine until their symptoms subside… Current laws empower local health officials to assess health and safety risks and determine local strategies. Given the varied vaccination rates and adherence to other mitigation strategies across the regions in our state, it is time to return decision-making to local health officials. In some cases, local health officials may require temporary returns to masking or other mitigation strategies if cases spike or if a new variant poses elevated risks.”

Superintendent Reykdal went on to state, “The tools to combat this virus today are dramatically better than the tools we had two years ago. I encourage every student and school employee to get their vaccination and booster to lower the risk of the virus. My recommendation today reflects my belief that the benefits of making this change outweigh the ongoing impacts on the learning environment as well as the challenges of maintaining a fixed statewide policy… As a reminder, masks are still required in the school environment at this time per Department of Health requirements.”

Beyond being excited about the pending transition, it also raises many questions that we as a district will be processing to ensure all staff and students continue to feel safe within the school setting. This includes students and staff members who wish to or believe they need to continue to wear a mask – free of any form of harassment, intimidation, and bullying.

We look forward to sharing more detailed information with you as it becomes available to us.

Brighter days ahead!

Tom Venable
Superintendent, Methow Valley School District