School reopening FAQ and health & safety guidelines

Young girl in mask

Wenatchee School District will reopen all schools for full-time in-person learning starting August 25, 2021. On July 28, Governor Jay Inslee announced that due to an increase in COVID transmission rates and spread of the new, more contagious Delta variant in our state, that all K-12 schools are mandated by law to continue mask-wearing among students and adults inside schools regardless of vaccination status. This announcement aligns with the recent Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) updated recommendations for K-12 and extends the Washington State Department of Health’s (DOH) current guidance for reopening K-12 schools this fall. DOH has updated their guidance to reflect the new mandate.

While children who get COVID-19 typically have milder symptoms than adults, children do get COVID-19 and can transmit it. Severe disease is rare, but some children require hospitalization. Further, the Delta variant, which spreads more than twice as easily from one person to another compared to earlier strains, has surged to become the predominant variant in Washington. Given this, the masking decision is not a choice being left to local school boards or superintendents. Under the Governor’s proclamation schools must continue to follow this mandate as well as follow all health and safety guidance provided by the DOH, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and Labor and Industries (L&I). State Superintendent Chris Reykdal issued a directive to all school district superintendents and school boards outlining mandated compliance for K-12 schools. Washington state continues to take a public health approach to COVID and will reevaluate the mandate if rates decline.  

The Governor expressed a sense of urgency for Washingtonians to get vaccinated to slow the spread of the disease and keep schools open. Questions about vaccination safety should be directed to your health care professional. Those who have not been vaccinated and wish to do so can make an appointment using the Vaccination WA website.

We look forward to welcoming your student(s) back to our schools for full-day, in-person instruction on August 25. Additional information on returning to school will be shared by your students’ school and teachers. Also, watch your mailbox for our back-to-school guide with more details to help you and your family get ready for fall.

School Reopening Frequently Asked Questions


Wenatchee School District will reopen schools for full-time in-person learning on August 25 for the  2021-22 school year. This frequently asked questions (FAQ) document details what students, their families, educators, and school staff can expect this year. 

Please note, the trajectory of disease prevalence in our state and nation may require changes in our state’s response efforts and periodic updates to school mandates and guidance. For the most current K-12 information please check our website wenatcheeschools.org and doh.wa.gov.

What will school look like this fall? 
OSPI, DOH, and the Governor's Office have mandated that all Washington students will have the opportunity to attend school in-person full-time (five days per week) in the 2021–22 school year. All Wenatchee Schools will be open to serve PreK-12 students with full-time daily instruction.

Will all school buildings reopen fully?
Yes. All Wenatchee schools will provide each student with the opportunity to learn in-person full-time (five days per week). The district office and other school facilities will also be fully open to serve the public.

Will there still be an online option for learning?
Yes. The Wenatchee Internet Academy (WIA), a full-time online school, will continue to be available during the 2021-22 school year for families that wish for their K-12 students to learn remotely. Enrollment information is available at wenatcheeschools.org/WIA or by calling (509) 888-5222. 

Will there still be health and safety measures in place?
Yes. The following mandatory measures will still be in place in the 2021–22 school year: face coverings for all students, staff, and visitors (regardless of vaccination status); improved ventilation; regular cleaning and disinfecting; and processes for responding to and reporting cases of COVID-19. Physical distancing is still recommended by DOH at this time – please see the next question for more information.

What physical distancing requirements will be in place?
DOH recommends 3 feet of physical distancing in classrooms and 6 feet elsewhere to the greatest extent possible. Flexible language in the guidance related to physical distancing (i.e., “to the greatest extent possible” and “to the degree possible and reasonable”) ensures schools are able to provide full-time in-person instruction to every student and family who wants it. If a school needs to distance at less than 6 feet in common areas and less than 3 feet in classrooms to accommodate all students and staff, it is allowable within the guidance. 

Will masks be required?
All school personnel, volunteers, visitors, and students must wear cloth face coverings (regardless of vaccination status), or an acceptable alternative (e.g., surgical mask or clear face shield with a drape), at school when indoors and when riding school transportation. Staff who are verified to be fully vaccinated may be indoors without masks when students are not present or expected to be present.

Will schools still be required to screen all students, staff, and visitors for symptoms? 
No. For the 2021–22 school year, DOH removed the requirement that schools need to screen students, staff, and visitors at entry to school buildings. However, schools will continue monitoring students, staff, and visitors for symptoms, and follow the protocols for responding to someone who shows symptoms of COVID-19. 

Will the COVID-19 vaccine be required for students in fall 2021? 
No. The State Board of Health, which has the sole authority to set immunization requirements for students, is not requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for children in school settings. However, we encourage vaccination among all eligible students, staff, and volunteers. 

Can the District decide to mandate the vaccine for students, even if the state doesn’t? 
No. State law (RCW 28A.210.140) provides full authority to the State Board of Health to establish the procedural and substantive requirements for immunizations for students. 


2021-22 Health & Safety Protocols for Students and Staff 

This information is subject to change and will be updated as requirements change. 
 
The goal of the WSD health and safety protocols for students and staff is to minimize transmission of COVID-19 in schools and maximize in-person instruction.
 
Based on current (August 13, 2021) K-12 guidance from the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) the following protocols are NO LONGER required/necessary:
●      Daily health screener (paper fast passes or online)
●      Temperature checks prior to entry into a school building
●      Cohorting (grouping) of students
 
View the Required COVID Health and Safety Guidelines Students and Staff 
 


Additional COVID-19 K-12 Resources

COVID-19 guidance and resources for schools can also be found on the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) website. 

State Superintendent Reykdahl’s directive to K-12 superintendents and school board on COVID compliance. 

CDC: Schools and Child Care webpage links to a number of national public health recommendation documents for K-12 schools and childcare providers.

General COVID-19 Resources

Stay up-to-date on the current COVID-19 situation in Washington, Governor Inslee’s proclamations, symptoms, how it spreads, and how and when people should get tested.