Local schools reopening won’t be “for an extended period of time” according to Dr. Bausher

Grays Harbor Health Officer Dr. John Bausher says that local schools are not ready to begin in-person education, and likely won’t be for some time.

In a letter sent to Grays Harbor school leadership and posted online, Dr. Bausher states that with the approximately 250 COVID-19 cases in September the local case rate was as high as 227.9/100,000 residents, and that rate does not allow for schools to re-open.

The health officer says in the letter that in the last week of September, the local case rate was around six times the State goal of 25 cases per 100,000 residents.

He lists the current 14-day case rate at 75 cases per 100,000 residents.

In the letter, he recommends that all K-12 schools continue to follow the Department of Health guidelines and should continue to teach remotely and follow the educational and extracurricular modalities associated with the “high COVID-19 activity level” for an extended period of time.

Dr. Bausher says that until the local case rate shows a downward trend for four consecutive weeks, local schools should remain at this higher level of caution.

The letter to school officials states that the Grays Harbor Public Health team will continue to update the local activity trends and update schools when case rates allow for bringing students back.

“I understand that schools, families and individuals are facing very difficult decisions in these unprecedented times. As a community, each one of us can take action to reduce disease spread. Everyone should stay home when you are sick, wash your hands with soap and water often, stay at least 6 feet away from people you do not live with, and everyone who can should wear a cloth face covering at all times in public spaces. If we follow these practices, we can disrupt the current community spread of COVID-19, at which time schools may be able to increase in-person activities.”