COVID-19 cases are rising on the peninsula
COVID-19 cases are rising on the peninsula

COVID-19 cases are rising on the peninsula

COVID-19 cases are rising across the northern Olympic peninsula with enough cases reported in area schools to get district officials to urge students and staff to wear masks while indoors.

Jefferson County reported a case rate of 584 per. 100,000 inhabitants on Tuesday, while Clallam County’s rate per. Wednesday was 483 pr. 100,000. Both counties are in the state’s high-risk category for COVID-19.

“We see (clusters of) classroom transmission now because students typically do not wear masks, so we see clusters of three or four children sitting close together in a class and testing positive, and that’s something we see in the districts across of the county, ”said Dr. Allison Berry, public health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties.

The Port Townsend School District reported that since April 27, 25 students and staff have tested positive for COVID-19, with 14 of those cases found in clusters at Blue Heron Middle School.

Chimacum has also seen some clusters of positive cases in its classrooms, especially among its secondary students, according to Superintendent Scott Mauk.

In both of these Jefferson County districts, authorities mandate indoor masking for one week when a cluster is detected.

“When we have a cluster in a classroom, we impose indoor masking for a week to prevent further transmission,” said Port Townsend Superintendent Linda Rosenbury. “In this time of high COVID activity in the community, masking is strongly recommended for all students.”

Rosenbury also said some students’ activities have been relocated outdoors. Activities include school meals and music programs – pretty much anything that requires a student to take off their mask.

Sequim

On Wednesday, the Sequim School District sent out a letter along with some home antigen tests to the families in two special classes at Sequim Middle School, said Sonja Bittner, district nurse.

According to the Sequim School District COVID-19 dashboard (https://www.sequimschools.org), the district had a total of 29 students tested positive for COVID-19, although none of the students in these cases had been exposed to the virus in school.

The majority of cases have been found in Sequim Middle School and High School, with eight cases in each.

“I want to tell you that the biggest increase since Monday has been in our SMS population,” Bittner said.

“Today, out of an abundance of caution, we send home a parenting message letter about our concern and a delivery of Rapid Antigen COVID tests to the families in two individual classes by SMS (not two grade levels). The (county) health department asked that we encourage the families to the two classes to test, and it was recommended that they encourage their students to mask, she added.

The Sequim School District is also partnering with the state Department of Health to offer free COVID-19 testing to families who are symptomatic or may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Port Angeles

On Tuesday, parents of Port Angeles High School students were notified by Principal Tanner Zahrt that 19 students and staff had tested positive for COVID-19 within the past week.

He strongly urged all students and staff to wear face masks indoors until at least May 20 to help control the spread of the virus.

“In partnership with Clallam County Public Health, we strongly recommend that all Port Angeles High School students and staff wear face masks while indoors until next Friday (20/5/22). At this time, masking is not a requirement. , but this is our next step in combating the increased incidence and risk of exposure for students and staff … Our local health official retains jurisdiction to implement additional remedial practices to reduce the impact of disease in school buildings, ”said Zahrt in the letter sent to the parents.

Carmen Geyer, Port Angeles School District spokesman, said other schools in the district have reported cases of the virus, but not as many as in high school.

On Wednesday, she said the masking recommendation is for PAHS students and staff only.

Berry said authorities have no evidence that cases were transferred within the high school.

“These cases are independent cases that we have identified,” she said. “We do not yet have documented evidence of infection in the school, so not all cases were entered into in the school.

“But those are all cases we know are positive, and they went to school while they were contagious, so we know there were a lot of exposures related to those cases,” Berry continued.

“But there are over 1,000 children at Port Angeles High School, so when you look at 19 out of 1,000, it’s no longer than really what you would expect, given how much the virus is in the community.”

Few cases

The Quillayute School District of Forks reported that it has had a few cases and that it continues to follow the guidelines of the state Department of Health, but that it is not considering taking further action at this time.

“We’ve been very lucky out here in Forks since the shift in lowering our security measures,” said Superintendent Diana Reaume. “Our main focus is to remind our students and staff to do a self-health or wellness check, and if anyone has symptoms, we test for COVID-19.”

Quilcene has not had a positive COVID-19 case since the end of February.

“We’ve been very lucky in Quilcene,” said Superintendent Frank Redmon. “We have not had any incidents or outbreaks at the school in any time.”

Crescent and Cape Flattery school districts reported having no increases in COVID-19 cases, with Cape Flattery reporting a positive case during the year, according to Superintendent Michelle Parkin.

Comment was not available Wednesday for the Brinnon School District.

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached at [email protected].


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