Dear PSD Staff and Families,
Today, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department published a new COVID-19 case rate of 77.9 per 100,000 population over 14 days, which is slightly above the “Moderate” upper range of 75*. That threshold is significant in the question of school districts’ consideration of any expansion of their current efforts to bring more students back for in-person learning.
The Peninsula School District is currently providing safe, in-person opportunities for preschool, K-1 students, and other small groups. Planning is also underway to examine alternatives for grades 2-12. The district does monitor the health department metrics daily, and if those metrics continue to move toward a higher range, it may affect those plans.
We have been asked if the K-1 program will need to close. Although we will plan for the possibility, the district does not anticipate closing the system to K-1 children unless directed by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. We recognize that possibility if metrics soar to ranges previously seen in March and mid-summer.
Every county is attempting to determine their own metrics. It appears neighboring Kitsap County will consider utilizing a metric to close a classroom if two or more cases are confirmed, and/or to close a school if two or more classrooms are affected. Given the low rates locally, we would anticipate that Pierce County may also look at a similar metric in their decision. Given the nature of transmission rates, we may also see a decline of the next two weeks, which would begin to return us to the “Moderate” to “Low” range.
I appreciate your collaboration and understanding as we continue to serve our students in the face of this challenging pandemic.
Dr. Art Jarvis
*“Low” range = 25 cases or fewer per 100,000 people over 14 days