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Lawsuit filed over requirement for remote learning to begin 2020-2021 school year

UPDATE: A hearing occurred Sept. 16 in Pierce County Superior Court. The plaintiff’s request for a temporary restraining order was denied.

NOTE: On Sept. 4, Pierce County entered the moderate phase of the state Department of Health’s school decision tree. Schools in Pierce County are permitted to begin a slow, gradual return to in-person learning beginning with elementary age students.

Original release below

TACOMA, WASH.—On Aug. 25, the Health Department received notification of a lawsuit filed against Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department on the Director of Health’s requirement for schools to open with remote learning only. Our attorney and staff are reviewing the lawsuit and drafting a response.

The Director of Health’s requirement is based upon the Governor’s decision tree that considers rate of community disease spread. As of August 24, 2020, the 14-day case rate per 100,000 in Pierce County was 90.7.

According to the state’s decision tree, when the community transmission of disease drops below a total 14-day case rate of 75 per 100,000 and the test positivity rate is below 5%, schools can consider in-person learning for elementary students. Then they can gradually add hybrid in-person learning for middle or high school students. We will add a dashboard on our COVID-19 information for schools page next week to help parents track these important indicators.

The Department has urged schools to continue to plan for hybrid models to be prepared for some return to in-classroom learning when the level of COVID-19 disease spread decreases.

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment to protect public health. We are one of roughly 244 accredited health departments in the country and among six in the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards. Learn more at

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