SRHD Recommendations for Large School Events & Gatherings - Updated Feb. 1, 2022
Media Contact: Kelli Hawkins | firstname.lastname@example.org | (509) 324-1539, c (509) 994-8968
-- Updated Feb. 1, 2022: Additional clarification on guidance for school events being held at off-campus event venues. --
Spokane, Wash. - While the decision to hold in-person school events and gatherings remains with each district’s administrators, Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) does work closely with school administration to provide guidance, support and contingency planning.
Currently, Spokane County is experiencing extremely high COVID-19 transmission rates. The Omicron variant has become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in Washington and is known to be highly infectious. Large events and gatherings provide an opportunity for multiple people to become infected. In this environment, large school events could result in a surge of cases concentrated in K-12 schools within a single community or district resulting in:
- A huge strain on school testing resources, contact tracing and school nurse activities
- Increased student absences
- Staffing shortages
- School closures
Case rates in Spokane County continue to increase and have yet to stabilize. Additionally, large outbreaks of the virus could place an additional strain on hospitals and healthcare facilities. Due to these concerns and possible outcomes, SRHD asks schools to consider the following actions to help mitigate the current surge of COVID-19 cases in our community:
- Cancel or postpone large school events until case rates become stable, preferably in mid to late February
- Require attendees to show proof of vaccination and/or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours
- Close food concessions to keep further close contact at a minimum
- (Added Feb. 1, 2022) Follow the protocols and processes put in place by an off-campus venue where a school event is taking place, which may include adherence to Gov. Inslee’s proclamation requiring vaccination verification for large events or proof of having received a negative COVID-19 test conducted within 72 hours of the event.
SRHD will continue to monitor multiple factors, including cases per capita, case rates within schools, hospitalizations, ability to contract trace, test positivity rates, and mortality rates, when considering guidance for school events or when making recommendations to our school districts. Watching a two-week or monthly trend of multiple metrics and seeing the success of response efforts gives us the full context to base our guidance on. We are thankful for the excellent communication and collaboration with the school districts as we work together to keep our community healthy.