The past 14-day COVID case count per 100,000 persons in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions is within a limit that would trigger a return to general in-class learning in similar-sized King County in Washington State.
King County’s most recent reported accumulated two-week daily total was 94 cases per 100,000 residents.
Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health have reported 68 cases during the same period, per 100,000 residents.
This takes into account King County serves 2.3 million people in and around the Seattle area, while Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health serve 3.05 million. In the past 14 days, there has been close to 2,100 cases of COVID-19 reported in the two B.C. health authorities – accounting for 90 per cent of the province’s cases.
King County spokesperson Gabriel Spitzer said Washington State’s Department of Health had developed a “decision tree” to govern when and how schools and childcare organizations would reopen to general in-class learning – based on the 14-day case count per 100,000 persons.
“Most students in King County are attending school via remote learning,” said Spitzer, adding a small number of private schools had resumed in-class learning though it was modified to minimize COVID-19 risk.
“Schools and child care organizations here and across the state are using a range of approaches, based on guidance from the state department health decision tree.”
These included remote learning and “hybrid approaches” as well as in-person learning for some special education students and early grades.
Washington State’s decision tree has three ranges of COVID incidence: high (above 75 cases over 14 days per 100,000 persons), moderate (between 75 and 25 cases over 14 days per 100,000) and low.
If the metric falls below 75, King County’s public health officer Jeff Duchin has said schools would re-open, but it is yet to reach that mark.
Spitzer said public school districts within King County are “local control” and make their decisions “based on public health data as well as local considerations in their communities.”
In addition, some local health jurisdictions may be making slightly different recommendations to school based on their interpretation of the decision tree,” he said. “This accounts for the variation across schools and districts in the state.”
Last Friday, Seattle Public Schools reported it would continue with virtual learning at least until Jan. 28, 2021 — the end of the semester.
In B.C., in-class learning resumed in the second week of September, though parents have an option to keep their kids at home while remaining registered with their school (until the end of the year.)
There has been one COVID-19 outbreak in a B.C. school and over 200 exposures — where a person with COVID attended the school, potentially exposing others to the virus — and six clusters where several people had become sick at a school.
There were three exposures reported in Coquitlam on Saturday — at Smiling Creek Elementary, Summit Middle and Winslow Centre — as well as at Vancouver College and Kelowna Secondary School. On Sunday an exposure was reported at Early Enquirers Preschool in West Vancouver as well as at Ecole Salish Secondary and Sullivan Heights Secondary in Surrey.
We have shared COVID-19 notifications with our school communities at Ecole Salish Secondary and Sullivan Heights Secondary. Thank you to @Fraserhealth and staff, students and parents @SullivanHeights @SalishSecondary #sd36learn #surreybc pic.twitter.com/d4We0BQTPP
— Surrey Schools (@Surrey_Schools) October 26, 2020
King County has had 26,360 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 817 deaths, while Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health has had 11,183 cases and 245 deaths.