Surge in COVID-19 cases prompts recommendation for continued virtual learning

Sophia Kobernusz-Gibbs, Staff Writer

Thurston County Superintendents and Heads of Schools received a recent letter from Thurston County Health Officer Dr. Dimayana Abdelmalek, regarding a recent surge in COVID-19 cases. In this letter, Dr. Abdelmalek remarked that on Oct. 23rd, Thurston County crossed into the high COVID-19 transmission range with a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases. If the county stayed in this high transmission rate range for two weeks, Dr. Abdelmalek said that she “would recommend a return to remote learning with the exception of small cohorts, prioritizing students with the greatest needs as per the K-12 decision tree guidelines,” based on the rubric from the Governor’s Risk Assessment Dashboard, partnered with the Safe Start plan that Gov. Inslee and state public health leaders built. 

In the letter, Dr. Abdelmalek stated that “as of November 4, 2020, the transmission rate for Thurston County is 95.9 cases per 100,000 people over 14 days.” This is referring to community transmission, just being out in the community, and an increase in outbreaks in educational settings, long-term care facilities, and places of employment. Hospitals are feeling the increase in COVID-19 cases, while they are doing their best to accommodate, hospitals cannot take adequate care of a massive outbreak of COVID-19. 

On Nov. 6th, Dr. Abdelmalek made her recommendation that all K-12 learning programs, with the exception of high-need students in cohorts of six, continue meeting virtually through January 2021. 

Dr. Abdelmalek wrote a “Health Officer Letters to the Community” update on Nov. 5, 2020, this one a general address to the Thurston community. Dr. Dimayana answered questions about public and carpool transport in COVID-19 times and about mask protocol outdoors. With regards to public transportation, Dr. Dimayana said to follow the CDC guidelines, wash hands before and after riding the transit, maintain six feet, and avoid touching commonly used surfaces.

As a campus, Saint Martin’s University has done well. However, we cannot let up. Keep wearing masks, limit social gatherings, and maintain social distancing.

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