Health dept. steps in to quell COVID-19 outbreak in Kittitas schools

Students, staff who didn't wear masks in class told to go home, test or both
Kittitas School District
Kittitas School District

KITTITAS, Wash. — Not all students, teachers and staff in the city of Kittitas have been wearing masks in school, the health department says. Now there’s a COVID-19 outbreak, and the department is stepping in to try to contain it.

The Kittitas County Public Health Department said Tuesday in a news release that it told Kittitas School District last Friday about an outbreak of among faculty, staff, and students.

There were 18 cases of COVID-19 within the district on Friday, KCPHD said, and the department told the district what it should do next to address the spread of COVID-19 in the district:

  • Support and enforce the statewide school mask mandate starting September 13
  • Students and staff who didn’t wear masks in class should go home, test, or both

The health department laid out three options for previously unmasked people to return to school:

    1. Quarantine as a close contact for 14 days from Sept. 10 and return to school Sept. 27
    2. Quarantine for seven days with a test to return Sept. 17
    3.  Test twice this week — on Sept. 13 and Sept. 16 — and stay in school

“The reason for these safety protocols is due to the increased spread of COVID-19 within KSD and the inability to do case and contact investigation due to the inconsistencies of mask wearing.

“KCPHD and KSD are committed to developing safety policies to help limit COVID-19 related interruptions in schools. KCPHD and KSD will continue to work closely together to ensure that faculty, staff, and students may continue to attend in-person school safely.”

Public health officials in the county say they will support training for case and contact investigation in the district, and will keep helping KSD throughout the school year.

Two days before the outbreak, the district stated it would follow the state mask mandate, but, “We are not sending our students home or singling them out for not wearing a face mask,” said Superintendent Angela Von Essen.

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