Thurston County Health Officer Recommends Distance Learning for All Thurston County Schools in Fall

COVID-19 cases have increased above the states target for phase 3 counties

Submitted by Thurston County

Thurston County’s Health Officer, Dr. Dimyana Abdelmalek, released a letter this morning to all Thurston County superintendents advising all schools within Thurston County to remain closed to in-person general instruction for the 2020 fall-term to help curb the spread of COVID-19 within the Thurston County communities.

The directive states, pursuant to the authority granted by the legislature in RCW 70.05.070(3), in order to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 within my jurisdiction, at this time I strongly urge and recommend all K-12 schools to remain closed to in-person general instruction for the 2020 Fall term and for districts to utilize distance learning modalities. Districts may elect to offer in-person specialized learning opportunities to groups of no more than five students, provided the district follows all state and local health and safety requirements. Failure to comply with this recommendation may require stronger restrictions in the future up to and including mandatory closure.

Thurston County Public Health Director Schelli Slaughter, Dr. Abdelmalek, and the superintendents will continue to hold discussions to determine when it is safe for students, teachers, and staff to return to the schools with in-person instruction.

“This has been a hard decision for public health and the superintendents to grapple with over the past couple weeks,” said Dr. Abdelmalek, “but we have to do what is safest for our teachers, students, and community as a whole.”

Dr. Abdelmalek added, “I am hopeful that with increased use of face coverings and people practicing physical distancing, teachers and students can return to classrooms sooner rather than later.”

For information and resources on COVID-19 in Thurston County, visit the Thurston County PHSS Coronavirus webpage, or follow the Thurston County Public Health Facebook or Twitter pages (@ThurstonHealth).

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