Masks optional for Kent School District students, staff

Masks will be optional in the Kent School District as it follows guidelines set by the state Department of Health for K-12 schools.

The state Department of Health released new requirements and recommendations to control COVID-19 and risk exposure in educational and child care settings as the number of cases drop across the state and the nation.

“The DOH requirements and the additional mitigation strategies KSD (Kent School District) has chosen to continue to require, effective March 12, 2022, will continue to support the health and safety of students and staff,” said Israel Vela, Kent School District interim superintendent, in a March 11 update to district families. “As the data continues to change, we will continue to review our practices and adjust our strategies accordingly in alignment with public health guidance.”

Key areas of focus for the new guidance in effect March 12:

• The new guidance is lifting one mitigating factor (masks) that was in place to control and minimize the spread of COVID-19.

• Other mitigating factors are still in place; some have been modified and need to be applied so that our community can remain at a low transmission rate level that will allow us to continue to remove interventions and progress toward “normal” community activity levels.

• If your student is immunocompromised, medically fragile, or otherwise at high risk for severe infection, please contact your school nurse to ensure that if your student is exposed to COVID-19, you will receive direct notification of the exposure.

• As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change, please be prepared for guidance to continue to change. As soon as we are notified of changes or modify our strategies, we will get that information out to you.

Summary of COVID-19 safety strategies:

• Masks are optional and welcome but are not required in Kent School District buildings or on buses for all students, staff, visitors, and volunteers, except in the health room and isolation room per department of health requirements.

• Students, children, and staff who are immunocompromised, medically fragile, and/or otherwise at high risk for severe disease should consult their health care provider about whether or not to continue wearing well-fitted masks.

• Anyone who chooses to wear a mask in KSD will not be required to remove it. We expect kindness and acceptance for individual mask-wearing decisions and will not tolerate bullying or harassment.

• Masks will continue to be available in buildings and buses, including higher-level PPE for staff aligned with L&I guidance.

• Students and staff need to stay home when sick.

• Students and staff with symptoms of COVID-19 are required to isolate, and can return to school or care following the options within the guidance.

• Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for at least 5 days and can return to school or work on day 6 if symptoms have improved, or they are asymptomatic, and are without a fever for the past 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications and either wear a well-fitting mask or receive a negative antigen test.

• KSD will continue to maximize physical distancing, encourage frequent hand washing, and ensure daily cleaning and disinfecting are aligned to public health guidance.

• KSD contract tracers will continue to support all schools, following updated guidance from DOH.

• If an outbreak or local surge of COVID occurs, public health may direct a classroom, school, or district to follow higher-level mitigation strategies.

• When a positive case is identified in the classroom or on a KSD sports team, families will be notified. Staff will continue to be notified of positive case exposure.

• The KSD COVID Dashboard will be updated on Tuesdays and Fridays on the district website.

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Article Source: Kent Reporter