As the rate of COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Snohomish and Island counties, health officials are recommending schools pause reopening plans.
“COVID is still very much circulating through Snohomish County,” Shawn Frederick, an administrator with the health district, told reporters Oct. 13.
In Snohomish County, the infection rate shot up to 101.1 per 100,000 residents from Oct. 4-17. The infection rate in Island County is at 27.1 cases per 100,000 people, and the rate in Skagit County is up to 46.4 infections per 100,000 residents.
The state Department of Health recommends a county’s infection rate be within a range of 25 to 75 COVID cases per 100,000 residents to have in-person classes for elementary and special education students. While neither county has yet hit the maximum, moving above 75 infections per 100,000 residents would put the county into the “high risk” category, further limiting reopening efforts for schools, sports and businesses.
Dr. Chris Spitters, Snohomish County’s top health officer, has recommended schools hold where they are, but slow down.
“They don’t need to move backward if they’ve started to bring special needs students and students in grades K through 3 back,” Frederick said. “But they shouldn’t bring any additional students in at this time.”
Local COVID-19 update: Snohomish County released new infection rate data by Zip code.— Evan Caldwell (@Evan_SCN) October 19, 2020
The Stanwood area is still in the 30-59 cases per 100k category.
The Arlington-area Zip code jumps into the 60-89 category. pic.twitter.com/2RbjvTl05f
The Stanwood-Camano School District started the school year Sept. 10 with kindergartners and brought in students in first through third grades on Oct. 5.
Currently, school district officials plan to bring fourth- and fifth-grade students back into buildings in a hybrid plan on Oct. 26.
Health district officials will meet with local school officials Tuesday, Oct. 20, to look at the latest data and discuss options. The Stanwood-Camano School Board will then meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20.
“We’re preparing for several plans, including preparing to bring fourth- and fifth-graders back on Oct. 26 but also preparing to not have them come back,” said Maurene Stanton, the district executive director of human resources.
Stanton said district officials will talk with local health officials and look at local COVID-19 data before making a decision.
“We know it’s been hard on everybody,” she said. “We just have to keep moving forward as best we can.”
Since Oct. 1, Stanwood has recorded 17 new COVID cases for a total of 211 so far this year. Camano Island has seen 12 new cases in October bringing the total to 71 infections, according to county health data.
Check SCnews.com throughout the week for updates.
Health officials in neighboring counties to the north — Skagit and Whatcom — are also seeing new cases increase.
“The majority of our new cases are the result of too many people in close settings, especially without face coverings,” Frederick said. “We’re relying on everyone to do their part to stay home if they’re sick, limit gatherings with people outside the household, and to mask up.”
Some students have resumed in-person instruction under the statewide framework for phased reopening of schools. It can be scary for students, parents or staff to hear there may have been a case at school. Our latest blog has key things to keep in mind: https://t.co/AsJX7liFMp pic.twitter.com/7trg1TC8fQ— SnoHD (@SnoHD) October 14, 2020