State schools

New insight into COVID-19 outbreaks in Washington state schools

Contact: Communications from the Ministry of Health
Public requests: State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline, 1-800-525-0127

Availability of the pediatric vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 expected soon

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released the latest report on COVID-19 outbreaks in K-12 schools across the state, which covers the start of the 2021/2022 school year. The report includes data on public and private schools that experienced a COVID-19 outbreak between August 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021.

Notable data from the report:

  • 189 COVID‐19 outbreaks have occurred in K‐12 schools. Of these, 42 occurred in August and 147 in September.
  • The median size of an outbreak was 5 individuals.
  • About 6% of all schools have experienced an outbreak since the start of the school year.
  • 167 outbreaks occurred in public schools and 22 in private schools.
  • 120 were associated with elementary schools, 48 ​​with middle schools, and 55 with high schools.
  • A total of 1,284 cases of COVID-19 have been linked to outbreaks in K-12 schools. The median age was 12 years old.
  • A total of 18 counties have reported school-associated COVID-19 outbreaks.

“While we never want to see an outbreak occur in school settings, the relatively small size of outbreaks indicates that schools are working very hard to respond when there are cases among students, teachers and staff,” said said Lacy Fehrenbach, MPH, Undersecretary of Health, COVID-19 Response. “Vaccinating young children as soon as we can will add the best possible protection. Everyone who can get vaccinated should do so now to provide protection for young children who are not yet eligible. »

It is important to note that the DOH has updated the definition of the school epidemic for the 2021/2022 school year. For the previous school year, the threshold number of cases to meet the definition of an outbreak was two epidemiologically linked cases. For this school year, the threshold has been raised to 3 cases or 10% of a specified baseline group as defined in the K-12 School Outbreak Report. This change was made to align the DOH with national standards based on the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) definition. Reported cases are epidemiologically linked to a school setting or school-sanctioned extracurricular activity.

The most up-to-date COVID-19 resources for K-12 schools and daycares are available at https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/ResourcesandRecommendations.

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