COVID Update- 2/17

Dear Families,

These first seven weeks of 2022, have been challenging on the COVID front. We recognize the fatigue that has built up over the last two years as we have navigated this pandemic as a St. John community. The purpose of this communication is three-fold: to express our gratitude to you, to re-outline established COVID-related travel protocols and recommendations prior to the upcoming holiday, and to address state-wide discussions around masking. 

To the first end: thank you – to all students, families, caregivers, and staff – for all you’ve been doing to keep our community safe and classrooms open during these first weeks of 2022. Your efforts have resulted in a low case count in the St. John community during a time of a highly transmissible variant.  

We are aware families may be traveling during this holiday weekend, and want to send the current CDC travel and quarantine guidance for your planning purposes, along with St. John’s recommendation regarding return to school next week.  

St. John Recommendation 

If you are traveling and/or gathering with other households during the upcoming holiday, we recommend rapid antigen testing the morning your student(s) returns to school. The school has a supply of rapid antigen tests available; tests can be picked up with Mrs. Q at the school office during school hours between now and Friday at noon. 

CDC Travel / Quarantine Guidelines 

Guidance pertains to commercial air, train, or long-distance bus travel: 

  • For Fully Vaccinated Students (2 doses received and it has been 2 weeks since 2nd dose) 
    • No need for quarantine after travel  
    • We recommend rapid testing as above  
  • Unvaccinated or Partially Vaccinated Students  
    • Quarantine for 5 days, beginning the first full day after returning home 
    • Monitor for any symptoms 
    • Take a rapid antigen test the morning of planned return to school (test sooner if symptoms develop) 

Regardless of vaccination status, all travelers should carefully monitor symptoms during travel and for 14 days after arriving home. If your child develops COVID-like symptoms (regardless of travel), testing is recommended to determine if symptoms are due to COVID before your child returns to school. St. John has rapid tests available and can also do a PCR test at school (with turnaround times between 18-48 hours).  

Our COVID response team is available to answer questions about symptoms, testing, return to school, or anything else:

Masking Guidance 

The school has been closely following state and local discussions regarding masking mandates and guidance. Governor Inslee’s lifting of the outdoor mask mandate, effective 2/18, and the announcement today to lift the indoor mask mandate on 3/21, are of particular focus. Given this announcement and the forthcoming guidance at the state level, we’d like to clarify for you how St. John School will make its decisions regarding masking. 

Schools, including St. John, are required to follow the Washington State Department of Health Guidance for K-12 schools. In addition, St. John operates under the guidance of the Office for Catholic Schools (OCS), which follows the recommendations of Public Health Seattle King County (PHSKC). Regarding outdoor masking, these entities have asked schools to take under consideration the manner in which their students play, interact, and distance during recess when making decisions about masking outdoors. 

Furthermore, with today’s announcement, State Department of Health officials will release updated guidance for K-12 schools during the week of March 6. This will help schools prepare for when Washington’s COVID-19 mask requirements lifts on March 21.

Today’s news brings great optimism. As such, when state-wide mask mandates are lifted, this does not mean all schools will automatically and/or immediately follow. It may take time for the more local entities (PHSKC and OCS) to review state-wide mandates and determine how to safely incorporate new, local guidelines. Please know our administration is in close contact with the OCS and is ready to make changes to our policies that are deemed by PHSKC and OCS to be safe and reasonable for our community. When mask mandates are lifted at school, we are committed to supporting families and staff who make the choice to continue mask-wearing. The school, like you, is eager to strike the right balance between safety and normalcy for our students and staff. We will communicate any changes in guidance with our school community as promptly as possible.  

Please refer to the Covid Response Page on the school website for additional information.  

We hope you enjoy a healthy, restful break with loved ones.

St. John School Administration

-updated 2/17/22