WA study: No zero-risk COVID scenario for schools, students


Young students could be phased in to mitigate the risk, study showed

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new report said schools in Washington state could mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission by taking certain countermeasures and bringing in the youngest kids first — but that coronavirus cases are still too high to open at this time.

On Thursday, Washington reported 1469 new confirmed/presumptive cases.

The decision to open up a school and provide in-person learning is up to the local school districts in Washington. Current guidelines say schools can start phasing in kids when there are 75 cases-per-100,000 people for a 2-week period.

This new study used that data as a model to show what would happen if kids were brought back to the classroom. Among the takeaways are that there are no zero-risk scenarios — there are still COVID cases even with remote learning.

But the study found if a school can implement countermeasures, like screening all students and staff for symptoms, it is effective in limiting the number of cases in schools.

It also found the hybrid model and phasing in K-5 students is not much riskier than remote learning. So the recommendation is to bring in the youngest kids first.

Some parents, like Stefanie Gripp. though, think all students should be brought back. She told KOIN 6 News she quit her job to stay home with her 3 kids to help with remote learning. Not being in the classroom has been difficult and she said they’re ready for schools to open.

Stefanie Gripp is a mom of 3 in Washington state who wants schools to reopen during the pandemic, November 5, 2020 (KOIN)

“Everybody should be able to be at school, be able to experience that,” she said. “My senior is, I think, it’s the hardest for her because she’s supposed to be with her friends and enjoying her senior, last year of high school and she’s not getting to. And if we open up in groups like that she’d be the very last person to go back.”

Washington health officials said case counts are still too high for that to happen and that it is up to the citizens to limit social interaction to lower those numbers if we want schools to reopen.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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