Clark County just barely made the cut for counties where there’s a “moderate risk” for reopening schools.
Gov. Jay Inslee and state schools Superintendent Chris Reykdal on Wednesday presented new guidelines for schools reopening come fall term. The recommendations, which are not mandatory, are based on the transmission of the coronavirus in any given county.
Counties that see 75 or more cases per 100,000 residents in a two-week period are considered “high risk,” and should remain closed to in-person instruction, according to the guidelines. Clark County’s latest transmission rate, released Monday, was 74.3 cases per 100,000 residents.
Clark County Public Health releases updated transmission rates weekly; this is the first time in recent weeks the transmission rate has fallen below 75. The county’s last report, which covered the period of July 8 through July 21, showed a transmission rate of 96.4 cases per 100,000 residents. In the two weeks before that, the rate was 99.7 per 100,000 residents.
Nine counties in Washington are considered “moderate risk,” meaning they’ve reported between 25 and 75 new cases per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks. For those communities, the state recommends continuing distance learning for middle and high school students, with some in-person instruction for elementary school students and students with special needs.
Eight Clark County school districts have recommended a fully remote start to the school year.
The nine “moderate risk” counties include a smattering of rural and suburban areas. Four of the nine have had transmission rates between 50 and 75 per 100,000 residents, while the other five have seen transmission rates between 25 and 50 per 100,000 residents.
Of those nine, Clark County’s transmission rate is the worst.
Inslee said Wednesday that those recommendations are rooted in “our love for our children, our understanding they can cause infections themselves, and the best science.”
“We are chartering unknown and extremely challenging grounds in our state and nation,” Inslee said. “Where states and countries have tried to return back to the classroom, they’ve all had less COVID-19 in their communities than we’re experiencing today.”
Area school boards must adopt their plans for the beginning of the school year at least two weeks before the first day of classes. Clark County’s largest school districts, Vancouver and Evergreen public schools, will vote on their reopening plans Tuesday.