Communication Update | 2.5.21

  • It has been a busy couple of weeks for our schools and district, but we have some important news to share. Please carefully read the following information. 


    Just a friendly reminder that the upcoming Replacement Levy deadline to vote is Tuesday, Feb. 9.  We have terrific information on our website to make sure you are informed when voting. Please call our district office if you have any specific questions.


    Beginning next week, all of our schools will be offering two days of in-person instruction for students choosing our hybrid model. Oak Harbor is the largest district in western Washington to be offering PK-12 hybrid learning. North Whidbey Middle School, Oak Harbor High School, and HomeConnection will phase into Hybrid Instruction starting next week.  Each school has communicated its “Soft Start” plans to make sure students have time to adjust and ask questions about the instructional and schedule changes while learning the new safety expectations. 

    We are happy to report that this week, we met the criteria to open our schools. Our three metrics for bringing back grade 7-12 students into hybrid next week were:

    1. Plans that meet all of the requirements from DoH and are approved by ICPH
    2. Less than 3% of 7-12 staff test positive for COVID
    3. Island County COVID two-week case rates below 200 per 100k

    We presented a letter from Island County Public Health during our last School Board meeting accepting our plans to reopen, stating we met all of the State Department of Health Requirements. This week we tested our 7-12 staff and are happy to report 0 positive cases.  Lastly, Island County released their recent COVID case rate report, which shows that our county's rate has now dropped to 94.32 per 100K for the two-week period of 1/21/21 to 2/3/21. 


    We heard that some families are experiencing difficulty accessing COVID testing. If someone in your family has been exposed or has COVID symptoms, you may be able to access free state-funded, drive-thru testing (by appointment only) at Walgreens. Use this link to request an appointment


    We recently published a new dashboard on our website, which features cumulative and current cases of COVID-19 in our schools. The numbers are minimal right now, but the dashboard is updated daily as a tool for families to know how many staff and student cases the district has reported. As a reminder, when a case is reported at school, all families impacted will be notified directly with a phone call from the school’s office. All other families in the school will be notified by email about the situation. This is the protocol for any staff or student case.


    This week we had two unrelated student cases at Olympic View Elementary. These are our first positive cases in PK-6. Both cases were clearly contracted outside of school and none of the other students or staff in these classrooms have symptoms.  As an added layer of precaution, OVE staff members were tested. 

    We learned of the first student case on Tuesday, and out of an abundance of caution, all of the students and one staff member in that cohort were treated as possible “close contacts.” The second case was confirmed yesterday.  Again, this was completely unrelated to the case earlier in the week. As standard protocol, we are quarantining appropriate cohorts with the recommendation from Island County Public Health. 

    We’ve been fortunate to have 2,700 PK-6 students in school for over four months and only two cases. However, all of our mitigations are in place, assuming that cases are in our schools daily.  While we are likely to have more cases as long as the disease persists in our community, we are confident that our track record of strong mitigations will continue to prevent and limit the spread of COVID in our schools. 


    None of our positive student or staff cases were contracted in school, they all came from the community. This is why it is important for families not to get complacent or let their guard down when it comes to examining their child for COVID-19 symptoms before sending them to school. Please err on the side of caution. If someone in your household is suspected of having COVID and/or awaiting a COVID test after exposure, please do not send your child to school until that household member tests negative. Please continue to consult the Daily Attestation flow chart we sent earlier this year and contact your child’s school if you have any questions about sending your child to school.  We appreciate your partnership in keeping our students and staff safe during these unprecedented times. 


    We cannot express how thankful we are to live in a community that’s been incredibly supportive. Even though we’re offering more than surrounding districts, we know two days of in-person instruction is not enough for your child. We are continuing to explore avenues to get your child more in-person instruction safely within the limitations set by the state. Please continue to communicate with your child’s teachers and schools, and please reach out to us if you have any concerns.