Seven months ago, as Vashon School District planned to re-open its doors to hybrid education on March 1, we used this editorial space to say that it was up to all islanders to keep our community safe as kids headed back into school.
Who knew, back then, we would be saying the exact same thing now, as our school district enters its fourth week of five-day-a-week education for all students?
Already this year, the district has experienced three major COVID-19 exposure events, necessitating the testing of more than three dozen close contacts, with only a handful of those tested being staff members. The rest were students. Thankfully, all those tests — an enormous effort led by Vashon’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) — came back negative.
This week, six more students at Chautauqua Elementary were advised to stay home for 10 days, due to exposure to another infected student.
So far, at least, we have been very fortunate to have not experienced any school-based transmission of the disease, in large part due to strict safety protocols in place, especially including mandatory masking for all.
But as the Delta surge continues, our school district and our community still need to proceed with extreme caution.
Following new guidance from Public Health – Seattle & King County, Washington’s Department of Health that aims to both keep students safe and minimize broad quarantines that interrupt education and affect mental health, our school district must work very hard to thread that needle.
Luckily, the district has a resource that is singular to our small, rural community — the MRC, a valiant and brilliant volunteer group of experts able to assist the district and the community through all the hiccups of this still hair-raising time.
The MRC has advised the school district in many ways throughout the pandemic and is now engaged in discussions with the district to better define the ways in which they will work together going forward.
We hope these discussions result in parents having more resources and information to make wise decisions in cases where their children have been exposed to COVID-19.
In the meantime, once again, we urge all islanders to do everything in their power to slow the spread of the virus in our community.
The best way to protect our youth is to surround them with vaccinated, masked adults, who model safe behavior, practice caution, and follow public health rules and sound medical advice, knowing that they are doing so for the good of the entire community. It really is that simple.