Dear Northshore Families, Students and Staff,
Yesterday, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released updated COVID guidelines for K-12 schools in response to the governor’s lifting of the mask mandate effective March 12, 2022. While we continue to review updated guidance from Public Health Seattle & King County as well as the Snohomish Health District, I want to provide basic details from DOH.
- Beginning March 12, masks will be optional indoors and on school buses. However, masks are still recommended by our state and local health departments.
- Until March 12, current masking protocols will remain in place. Masks will continue to be required for all students, staff, and visitors on all Northshore campuses and school buses through March 11.
- There are some specific scenarios where mask wearing will be expected. Our COVID-19 Handbook will be updated by the end of the week.
- Staff who have received vaccination exemptions will soon be able to request a review of their exemption accommodations previously agreed to on a case-by-case basis through the Human Resources Department. In the interim, the exemption accommodation requirements previously agreed to remain in place.
The health and safety of our students, staff, and communities remain a top priority for the Northshore School District. It is important to note that COVID-19 will remain with us for some time.
While masks will be optional, additional layers of mitigation remain in place including:
- Masks for students and staff, who want to continue masking
- Protected health care rooms - everyone in health care rooms/nurse’s office must wear a mask
- Weekly COVID batch testing will continue in partnership with the Department of Health
- We will continue to closely watch and share COVID-19 transmission trends through our COVID-19 data dashboard.
- Physical distancing to the greatest extent possible
- Increased air ventilation (HVAC) and air quality testing
- Recommended frequent handwashing
- Strong recommendation to stay home while experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
Another priority is equity. I encourage all families to talk with their students about masks becoming optional beginning March 12. Some key ideas to encourage empathy and center equity include:
- There are many reasons why someone may choose to wear or not wear a mask, and those reasons may change over time. Some families may have vulnerable household members or have younger siblings who are not yet eligible for vaccination.
- Understand that each person’s needs and story are unique and valuable.
- Show mutual respect, concern, and kindness to one another.
- Tell an adult if you witness or experience mistreatment or bullying related to masking.
- We don’t know if or when masking will be required again. As public health experts monitor COVID in our community, the guidance may be updated in the future.
- In support of the choices that will be made by families, students, and staff, we have provided these helpful resources for staff to facilitate a discussion about masks.
It is strongly recommended that you talk with your students about your family’s expectations for mask-wearing prior to March 12. Some families may choose to share their preference for masking with school staff, however, families should be aware that school staff and teachers will not notify or remind students of their family’s preference.
This week, I had an opportunity to sit down with a very wise group of students during my visit at North Creek High School. Their advice? Ease into it. Remember, it’s your choice. Don’t judge and don’t make assumptions. Respect each other’s choices. Be kind.
I’d like to add that we are strongest when we think about one another. Together, we can navigate these changes with kindness, understanding and respect. Let’s remember we are One Northshore.
Michelle Reid, Ed.D.
Northshore School District
3330 Monte Villa Parkway
Bothell, WA 98021
"Strengthening Our Community Through Excellence in Education"