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Clarifying our role in the Department of Health’s Decision Tree for Provision of In Person Learning among K-12 Students at Public and Private Schools during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

We received a number of messages recently from parents in the Peninsula School District. They asked us to provide written permission to continue in-person instruction for young learners and special education students.

We continue to closely watch the case rate and other metrics to determine our school recommendations. We explicitly communicated to Superintendent Jarvis, the Peninsula School District, and all school districts and private schools in Pierce County that the school district or private school will make the final decision. They do not need a waiver, variance, or written permission. This is consistent with the Decision Tree: “While DOH encourages local health officers and school administrators to work together to choose the best setting(s) for their students, school administrators are ultimately responsible to establish appropriate education services.”

We continue to work with districts on how to best balance parents and administrators’ concerns about children’s educational, social, and emotional needs; staff’s concerns about children’s needs and their own safety; and our concerns about disease transmission and community health.

In your emails, you also offered to provide leadership in Pierce County and the state as we all work to get children back in classrooms. We are ready for you to do just that.

Parents play a vital role in modeling and demanding the wise decisions that will slow the spread of COVID-19 here. The daily work of reducing community transmission of the virus protects our vulnerable neighbors. It also allows us to open schools and businesses as the state’s guidelines allow.

The upcoming holiday season is as a pivotal time in the course of the pandemic. In fact, Halloween is this weekend, and we are asking you to celebrate differently this year to avoid another spike in cases. The decisions we make for our families will shape the coming months. You can be a leader starting today:

Please follow our guidance for safe gatherings and encourage everyone you know to do the same.
Practice physically distancing.
Wear a mask when you’re in public.
Practice good hygiene.

You can find more school-related information at tpchd.org/covidinfoschools and read our latest COVID-19 school digest.

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