‘We must mitigate community transmission to reopen schools’: Health Officer recommends Spokane Co. schools opt for online learning

East Valley School District socially distanced classroom

SPOKANE CO., Wash. — Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz sent a letter to Spokane County superintendents on Monday encouraging them to move to fully remote learning plans for the start of the upcoming school year.

Within hours, two districts — Spokane Public Schools and Central Valley School District — made the decision and announced full-time distance learning would be implemented at the start of the year.

Lutz cited the current high level and upward trajectory of COVID-19 rates when making the recommendation.

“Cases and outbreaks in schools will likely occur. These could negatively impact community-wide efforts to lower rates, would impose considerable demands and instability on school operations and conceivably outpace our collective efforts to control the pandemic,” Lutz said.

Washington schools were directed to close and offer online schooling on March 12 when cases began to increase across the state. Lutz said the decision to close schools at that time led to a decline in the rate of disease across much of the state.

Since May, however, transmission rates in Spokane County have not dipped low enough to warrant opening schools, Lutz added. Prior to Memorial Day weekend, there were 432 confirmed cases. There have since been 3,384 cases, marking an increase of 783 perecent, with Spokane County averaging 209.6 cases per 100,000 people over the course of two weeks. The goal is to have around 25 cases per 100,000 people over a 14-day span.

“Schools are not islands: we must mitigate community transmission to reopen schools,” Lutz said, quoting the Institute of Disease Modeling.

Lutz acknowledged in his letter that schools are fundamental to child and adolesecent developing, but said that based on Spokane County’s rates and existing science, it is strongly recommended that local districts move to remote learning. He did add that districts should consider in-person learning for those who have special health or education needs that cannot be delivered through remote learning.

Read the full letter below:

School District Letter – Dr. Bob Lutz by Erin Robinson on Scribd

READ: Spokane Public Schools to begin 2020-2021 school year with full-time distance learning

RELATED: Central Valley School District to begin school year with full-time distance learning

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