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Mukilteo School District changes COVID-19 policies amid a spike in cases

MUKILTEO, Wash., January 16, 2022 – With the Mukilteo School District reducing the period of self-quarantine and isolation for those who have tested positive or been exposed to the COVID-19 virus from 10 to 5 days, families are left with questions regarding the well-being of their community. 

In an announcement released last Friday by the district, new guidelines include a five-day quarantine period for anyone who tested positive as well as if one is exposed but not up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations. If a student can provide a confirmed medical record of having COVID-19 within the last 90 days, there is no need to quarantine again regardless of vaccination status.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those who have been vaccinated are not required to quarantine after being exposed, however, it is asked that one monitor for any symptoms that may appear 10 days after their last contact with an infected person. The Mukilteo School District has decided it is best to continue with in-person learning with no plans to shift to remote learning districtwide with the possibility of certain schools or even classrooms shifting to online learning for a brief time due to student and staff shortages. 

The district’s decision to continue with in-person learning is aligned with the Biden Administration’s stance on the matter. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a January 5 press briefing that schools could remain open and that closing down schools wouldn’t be worth the toll on the student’s mental health.

With similar concerns about student mental health in mind, Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal in a press conference on January 7 to discuss the state of K-12 education, also felt there was no need to shut schools down during the surge of Omicron cases.

“There will not be closures ordered from this office or the governor’s office under the circumstances we’re in now,” said Reykdal.

However, the decision to continue with in-person instruction by school districts throughout the country has drawn criticism. 

The Chicago Teachers’ Union led a standoff against the return to in-person instruction within Chicago Public Schools. After a four-day strike, an agreement was reached to continue with in-person learning based on the rate of staff absences and students in quarantine, and an agreement to a threshold on the transmission rate of new COVID-19 infections.

On January 14, around 100 students enrolled in Seattle Public Schools stood outside of the district headquarters to demand stronger safety measures regarding a spike in COVID-19 cases. 

The mother of a student currently enrolled in the Mukilteo School District, Anna Rilov, shared her opinions on the recent changes to the district’s guidelines.

“As a parent of an unvaccinated child who attends school within the Mukilteo School District, I must say that I am happy that the quarantine days have been lessened for unvaccinated children,” Rilov told the Lynnwood Times. “On the contrary, I feel that unvaccinated children will have more restrictive access to education.”

A needs assessment to collect information about student thoughts, feelings, and behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic will be administered to all students in grades 6 to 12 in Washington state starting February 1, 2022. Survey results will be released in April 2022.

The Lynnwood Times is awaiting a statement from the Mukilteo School District on questions regarding the recent changes to its COVID-19 policy and its ability to facilitate remote learning.

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