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County Health Memo 11/19/2020

From: Howard Leibrand, MD, Skagit County Health Office
RE: Local and regional COVID-19 disease activity
Date: November 19, 2020

For the past four weeks, Skagit County has experienced an exponential rise in the number of laboratory confirmed new COVID-19 cases. Our disease activity is in the HIGH category, defined by Washington State Department of Health as >75 cases per 100,000 population averaged over 14 days. Skagit County’s disease activity exceeded 250 cases per 100,000 population for the two weeks ending November 16. This significant surge in fall case levels is occurring throughout Washington and around the country. Recent orders from the Governor are designed to slow the rise in cases and may have a positive impact, but surges of this magnitude are difficult to contain quickly. We are likely to experience very high disease activity levels into December and possibly beyond.

At this time, we have not seen evidence of school-based outbreaks associated with in person learning in Skagit County. However, schools and districts may be experiencing significant impacts to staffing and student attendance from the increasing numbers of people being directed to isolate and quarantine according to CDC, state, and local guidance. Schools must maintain their capacity to trace contacts in the event of a school associated exposure to a case of COVID-19. In addition, the requirements of the Washington State Department of Health K-12 Fall Guidance for In Person Learning result in ongoing stress upon district resources.

We recognize that you will continue to evaluate the best decisions for your students and staff. Each district or private school will need to base these decisions according to current and near future disease activity impacts as well as resources available for staffing of student and district services. We support you in your on-going evaluation of the feasibility of providing in person learning given our current and near term projected very high disease activity level.

Thanks to you and your staff for your on-going diligent work to provide safe and effective learning during these extremely challenging times. Please continue to direct your questions to our response team.

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Concrete School District’s Veterans Day at a Distance

Veterans Day Presentation

Dear families and students at Concrete High School,

Veterans Day is Wednesday November 11th. In the past, our school has hosted an in-person assembly. This year, we adapt and still honor veterans. Please take an hour of your time in recognition of Veterans Day to watch this presentation. A very special “thank you” to Concrete teacher Stephanie Henning for putting together the High School and Elementary School presentations.

High school students, please fill out this online questionnaire after viewing the presentation.

Pausing Reopening Plan

Skagit County Public Health has seen a steady rise in COVID-19 case numbers since early September.  While we experienced this increase we remained in the Moderate risk category for disease activity (25-75 cases per 100,000 population averaged over 14 days).  This past week Skagit County has experienced a very significant surge in new cases as well as new outbreaks.  Over the next few days we will move well into the High-risk category (>75 cases).  This is impacting our community and increases the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for people as they go to work, school, or other locations.  Expanding in person learning to bring additional students on campus during High disease activity level is currently not recommended by the Washington State Department of Health.  Districts are encouraged to focus any in person learning provided on the youngest learners (K-3) and students that are highest need, following all Washington State Department of Health safety requirements. 

This morning the Skagit County Public Health Department informed our district of the rapidly increasing Covid-19 infections within Skagit County.  While the East County area continues to show lower infection rates, our community members are still active in their daily lives outside of Concrete.  This pandemic continues to impact the students and community, and we are carefully weighing the educational needs along with the safety of students, staff, and the community we represent.

Following the most current Health Department guidance and current infection rates, we are postponing our hybrid model progression.  We will remain in the current format with no changes to K-1 students and the services currently provided for special populations of students needing additional support.  Students may still contact individual teachers to receive additional support for their learning needs.

While we would love to have every student back in the building receiving in-person instruction, the current climate just simply doesn’t support that decision.  As the superintendent, I fully understand the impact of remote learning on our students and families, but I feel that the safety and welfare of everyone must be the priority.

This decision is made with the best and most recent information from Skagit County Health Department officials.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Respectfully,
Wayne Barrett, Superintendent
Concrete School District

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