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School data shows most outbreaks happen outside the classroom.

UPDATED: 01/21/2022

In December, we told you about a multi-county COVID-19 outbreak linked to high school wrestling tournaments. It involved dozens of students and 9 Pierce County school districts. Since then, the Omicron variant has increased cases and hospitalizations in Pierce County. That’s led to more school-related outbreaks.

We know COVID-19 outbreaks in schools are a concern for everyone—especially parents. We started reporting them by region early in the pandemic.

When we moved away from daily case reports in December, our goal was to give you more useful information. After the wrestling tournament outbreaks, we took a deep look at schools data. So, starting today, you’ll see a new way of reporting that will better help you understand school outbreaks.

A change in reporting.

Instead of reporting where outbreaks occur, we’ll report how they occur. Outbreaks and cases will fit into one of the following categories:

  • Classroom.
  • Sports.
  • Transportation.
  • Other (non-sports extracurricular activity.)

You’ll see most outbreaks take place outside of classrooms. The wrestling tournament outbreaks hinted at this, and data backs it up.

What the data tells us.

We define K-12 school outbreaks as:

  • 3 or more cases.
  • Or, 10% or more of a group in a shared location over the last 28 days.

In our first report using the new format, most school-related outbreak infections—89%—were related to sports activities. Only 8% took place in the classroom.

Of the 90 outbreak cases we report this week, we linked:

  • 80 to sports.
  • 7 to classrooms.
  • 3 to other activities.
  • None to transportation.

We believe this gives you a more accurate picture of school outbreaks. If you want detailed information on specific schools, please contact the school district.

Schools remain a priority for us.

Our students’ mental health and well-being have suffered during the pandemic. We remain committed to keeping our schools open and safe.

Some of the ways we protect students and staff safety include:

  • Vaccines.
  • Masking.
  • Case and contact investigation.
  • Improved ventilation.
  • Handwashing and respiratory etiquette.
  • Testing.

Vaccines and boosters protect kids from the worst COVID-19 outcomes. Everyone 5 and older is eligible for the vaccine. And everyone 12 and older should get their COVID-19 vaccine booster dose. Find your dose today at

And you can do even more to help stop the spread.

• Fight the flu, too, and get your flu shot.
• Wear your mask.
• If you’re sick, stay home.
• Wash your hands frequently
• Get tested if you experience symptoms or were exposed.
• Get vaccinated.

You can always help build trust with reliable information. Subscribe to the Your Reliable Source blog for our latest news and info.

UPDATED: 01/21/2022