SPOKANE, Wash — Gov. Jay Inslee announced on Tuesday that about 50 more schools will participate in a COVID-19 testing program as districts try to bring more students back to in-person classes.
Of the nearly 50 schools, 22 of them are in Eastern Washington, according to a list provided by the governor’s office.
Thirteen school districts, including Spokane Public Schools, have been participating in a testing pilot program, and the new schools will join them this month.
“This is yet another layer of confidence we want to offer people to go back to on-site classes,” Inslee said.
Officials emphasized that the testing programs will be tailored based on the school districts – some could be for students, staff or a combination of both, according to Inslee. The goal was to isolate cases quickly and quarantine close contacts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Here’s a list of the schools in Eastern Washington being added to the program:
- Chewelah School District
- Lamont School District
- PRIDE Prep Charter School District
- Wilbur School District
- Cheney School District
- The Valley School District
- Colton School District
- Creston School District
- Deer Park School District
- Lind-Ritzville Cooperative Schools
- Reardan-Edwall School District
- Spokane International Academy
- Sprague School District
- Washtucna School district
- Mead School District
- Medical Lake School District
- Northport School District
- Republic School District
- Riverside School District
- Selkirk School District
- Central Valley School District
- West Valley School District’
On Feb. 12, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines called for things such as hand washing, social distancing and masks but do not include a mandate for vaccinations in order to reopen schools.
Inslee has toured schools in Washington state to get a feel for what is currently being done to prevent the spread of coronavirus. His tour comes as a growing number of districts are bringing students back for in-person education.
Between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31 of 2020, there were 84 coronavirus outbreaks reported in K-12 schools in 13 counties. There were 305 COVID-19 cases associated with the outbreaks, which were defined by two or more cases within two weeks of each other. Sixty-four percent of those outbreaks involved two or three cases.
The Washington Education Association, the union that represents teachers, has said that if Washington wants to prioritize in-person learning, the state also needs to prioritize vaccinating teachers.
According to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the latest figures suggest about 22% of the state's students are receiving some in-person instruction.