Archives

This section contains previous messages released on the COVID-HQ for easier accessing.


 

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

State Board of Health votes not to require COVID-19 vaccine for K-12 students

On Wednesday, April 13, the Washington State Board of Health (SBOH), the agency who determines immunization requirements for students in all K-12 schools, voted to not require Washington’s students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for school attendance.

The agency’s decision means that immunization requirements for our students will remain unchanged for the upcoming 2022-23 school year.

The SBOH overwhelmingly supports the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine and notes that vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself and those around you, particularly against severe illness.

Before making this decision, the State Board of Health organized a technical advisory group made up of doctors, public health officials, school partners, and other community members. Over a series of meetings, the group met to understand the benefits and challenges of requiring a COVID-19 vaccination for students.

In late February, the advisory group concluded their work and recommended to the State Board of Health that the vaccine not be required. In their meeting on April 13, the SBOH reviewed the recommendation and decided they agreed.

We are anticipating the current health and safety guidance from the state Department of Health will remain in place next fall. This includes regular cleaning and disinfecting, encouraging masks, sharing reminders of proper hand hygiene, and physical distancing to the extent possible while ensuring a full-time in-person opportunity for all students.

As a reminder, as we have learned throughout the pandemic, the situation with the virus can evolve and sometimes the guidance changes for us to continue providing the safest learning environment possible for our school community.

At this time, there have not been changes to Governor Inslee’s proclamation requiring school employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.

As always, we thank our wonderful Woodland community for your support as we navigate and implement changes resulting from state guidance.

 


 

Friday, March 4, 2022

Free rapid-tests are once again available for students and families exhibiting symptoms

As of Friday, March 4, 2022, the district once again has enough rapid tests to offer free testing to students and families who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. While we hope to eventually have enough supplies to provide tests for those who need clearance to attend events or travel, unfortunately, we do not have enough supplies at this time, so testing must be limited only to those exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. For more information and to schedule a test, please visit our Free COVID Testing webpage by clicking this link.

 

Masks will remain optional following lifting of mask mandate on March 12

Dear students, staff, families, and community members:

The lifting of the mask mandate on Saturday, March 12 marks a welcome sign that we are closer to the end of the pandemic, and, while masks will no longer be required in schools beginning Monday, March 14, we must continue to remain vigilant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as many medical professionals predict this illness will remain with us potentially for years into the future.

Accordingly, we have heard from many of our families who would like their students to continue wearing masks to continue helping in the prevention of COVID-19 following the end of the mask mandate and we will do our best to accommodate this request:

Families can opt-in to have their own students continue to wear masks in school.
For those families who would like their students to continue wearing masks, please reach out to the main offices of your students’ schools and let them know. Our staff will help ensure your student wears a mask throughout the school day. Additionally, as long as supplies last, all of our schools will continue to provide KN95 masks free-of-charge to any students who would like to wear them.

Bullying and/or harassment of mask-wearers will not be tolerated.
In accordance with the district’s existing anti-bullying policies, any harassment of students or staff who choose to continue wearing masks following the end of the mandate will not be tolerated. Consequences and punishments for bullying and harassment are outlined in school handbooks and the district’s policies.

Continue to visit the COVID-HQ website regularly for updates.
As we continue to make progress to ending the pandemic, we will continue to provide regular updates on the state of our fight to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on our COVID-HQ website located at www.woodlandschools.org/covid-hq. Please check regularly for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID and your community schools.

We want to thank all of the Woodland community for its ongoing support during these trying times. Woodland schools could not have succeeded without the dedicated support and ongoing efforts of our staff, students, and, most importantly, our family and community members.

Thank you all!

Sincerely,

Woodland Public Schools

 


 

Monday, February 28, 2022

Mask Mandate will now end Saturday, March 12

On Monday, February 28, 2022, the governors of Washington, Oregon, and California announced that, with declining COVID case rates and hospitalizations plus changes to CDC masking guidance, all three states will be adjusting the end date to their statewide indoor mask requirements.

The mask mandate – including schools and school buses – will now end at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 11, moved up from the initially announced date of March 21.

The first school day that masks will be optional at school and on school buses is Monday, March 14. Masks will remain optional for anyone who desires to wear them following the end of the mandate. Out of support and respect for our fellow community members, staff, and students, any harassment of those who choose to continue wearing masks will not be tolerated anywhere in Woodland Public Schools' facilities or on its campuses.

As you can imagine, there are still many details that need to be understood and decided. The Washington State Department of Health will be releasing updated school guidelines next week, which should provide more information and clarification for schools. We will share this information when it is available.

 

Indoor mask mandate will end Saturday, March 12

 

You can read the full announcement about the end to indoor mask requirements here: https://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/governors-newsom-brown-and-inslee-announce-updated-health-guidance

 


 

Monday, February 28, 2022

Updated CDC Guidance: Masks still required until March 21

On Friday, February 25, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provided new guidance on masks. Under the new guidance, requirements for masks are based on a county-by-county risk level with Cowlitz County currently designated as a "high-risk."

The CDC's guidelines for masks are as follows:

  • High-Risk: The CDC advises all counties designated high risk to maintain mask mandates.
  • Medium-Risk: The CDC advises all counties designated medium risk to recommend masks for individuals who are immunocompromised (currently, Clark County is designated "medium-risk.").
  • Low-Risk: Masks are recommended according to personal choice in counties designated "low-risk."

Despite the new guidelines from the CDC, it is important to remember that the agency does not have regulatory jurisdiction over public health at the state or local level; their guidance is simply advisory.

As of Monday, February 28, the Washington State Department of Health have not made any changes to the March 21 date for ending the mask mandate. Governor Jay Inslee has scheduled a press conference for 1:00 p.m. today (2/28).

As always, we will keep the community updated as soon as we learn more.

 


 

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Mask Mandate will end on Monday, March 21, 2022

Dear Woodland Public Schools Staff and Families:

On Thursday, February 17, Governor Jay Inslee announced that the statewide indoor mask mandate will be lifted on Monday, March 21, 2022.

The Washington State Department of Health is expected to release updated guidance for schools in the coming weeks which will likely include revisions to other mitigation measures such as contact-tracing requirements. Woodland Public Schools’ board of directors and administrative team will review these guidelines when they are released and share information as soon as possible thereafter.

Until the Department of Health releases additional guidance, the state continues to require all staff and students wear masks within schools.

While we understand that staff and families may have questions and concerns about the announcement, we do not have any additional information about the governor’s announcement at this time. 

We appreciate your continued patience and support.

Sincerely,

Your Woodland Public Schools

 


 

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Mask Mandate Remains in Effect

We are letting our Woodland families know that Washington State still requires all students and staff to wear masks in school regardless of vaccination status.

We are all experiencing fatigue from the ongoing pandemic and everyone wants to return to normal as soon as possible, however, the state has determined masks are still required to ensure the health and safety of our school community.

In order to remain in compliance with state requirements, school offices will contact parents and guardians to pick up any student who refuses to follow the mask mandate.

We know that not everyone agrees with the mask mandate and we encourage community members to reach out to the appropriate state agencies and contact their local representatives to express their concerns. However, school districts do not have the power to ignore any mandate passed by federal, state, or local governments.

Once again, any student who refuses to follow the mask mandate will need to be picked up from school and will receive an unexcused absence.

We thank you for your patience and support during these trying times, and by working together we will get through this pandemic and return to normal as soon as possible.

 


 

Thursday, January 27, 2022

COVID Update: How Omicron has affected Woodland Public Schools

We want to keep the community informed about how the Omicron variant is affecting your schools. Despite the extremely contagious nature of the Omicron variant of COVID, your Woodland Public Schools will remain open with in-person learning as long as we have available staff to serve them and students and staff can be kept safe and healthy.

Since returning from winter break we have seen a significant rise in absenteeism among both students and staff, with many staff members having to stay home due to having contracted COVID. The rates of absenteeism appear to be dropping in recent days, but if the rate of staff absenteeism rises again to high levels we may have to change schedules or close schools temporarily due to lack of staffing.

Newly reported cases of COVID among staff and students have largely been identified as being contracted at gatherings outside of school and through athletics. Our on-campus layered mitigation practices which include mask-wearing, increased ventilation, physical distancing, and regular sanitization have proven effective in reducing the spread of COVID at school. In spite of this, infection rates remain very high.

In the event that we must change school schedules or close schools, we will inform families and in advance as much as possible to accommodate planning for childcare options. 

We continue to encourage all community members to take the necessary steps to help prevent the spread of COVID by wearing masks when in public and not holding social gatherings at least while the omicron variant works through our region. Together, we will beat this pandemic once and for all.

 


 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Middle School Athletics suspended due to COVID-19 test shortage

Due to complications from COVID-19 affecting supplies of rapid tests for the virus nationwide, Woodland Public Schools must suspend middle school athletics starting Friday, January 14, 2022. The shortage of available tests prevents the district from remaining in compliance with the testing requirements of the WIAA which requires student athletes to be tested three times a week.

The district has several unfulfilled orders placed weeks ago still being processed by suppliers, currently waiting for new shipments of tests from the manufacturers. Due to the contagious nature of the omicron variant, manufacturers have fallen behind in their shipments of rapid tests as factories have been closed due to virus caseloads increasing across the country.

“We know our student athletes and their families are disappointed, and we will continue doing everything in our power to obtain supplies of the required tests,” said Superintendent Michael Green. “We will restart suspended athletics once we have enough supply to meet the WIAA testing requirements.”

Currently, test manufacturers have been unable to provide dates for when shipments of tests will restart.

 


 

Monday, January 10, 2022

DOH RELEASES UPDATED COVID-19 REQUIREMENTS FOR K-12

On Friday, January 7, the Washington State Department of Health released new school requirements and supplemental considerations for K-12 staff and students. The major changes are summarized below, however you can review the school requirements and supplemental considerations by clicking the respective highlighted links.

  • Quarantine and isolation timelines have been reduced to five (5) FULL days with two negative tests within five (5) days following exposure which actually works out to six days as day of exposure is considered "day zero." 

  • Test-to-Stay has been expanded to include staff, including exposures that occur outside of school to both students and staff. This change will help us avoid closure due to lack of staffing and also help keep kids in school.

  • Identified new cases of COVID-19 have been exploding. We encourage staff and students to consider surgical masks or KN95/KF94 masks rather than using cloth masks as cloth is less effective at preventing the spread of viruses.

 


 

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

COVID Advisory: Woodland Public Schools to remain in-person unless mandated

In the first few days of the new year, we are seeing a substantial increase in illness and positive COVID case counts along with significantly increased testing volume due to the more contagious omicron variant.

We want to assure families that Woodland Public Schools does not plan to return to district-wide remote learning unless mandated to do so. We know how important in-person learning is to our staff, students, and families, and will do everything in our power to keep kids in school while still prioritizing the health and safety of our students and staff.

However, Washington State’s Department of Health does use metrics which may require school districts to move individual classrooms or schools to remote instruction for short periods of time if COVID outbreaks are found in those classrooms or buildings. We will remain in close contact with you should such a situation arise.

In the meantime, we can all help prevent the spread of COVID by following the existing health and safety guidelines including social distancing, mask-wearing, and keeping social gatherings to a minimum.

 


 

Monday, January 3, 2022

UPDATED: COVID Community Feedback Survey Results

Throughout December 2021, Woodland Public Schools released a survey for households with children attending Woodland Public Schools covering COVID-19 prevention and mitigation procedures at our schools. The results of the survey have been compiled into a report which you can download from this link:

Click here to download the COVID Community Feedback Survey Report -January 3, 2022

 


Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Letter from the Board of Directors

To the Families we serve in Woodland Public Schools and to all Concerned Citizens,

Hello from your Woodland School Board! First, we would like to tell you that it’s been an honor to be able to serve our community in this capacity. Each of us shares a passion for our schools and have felt their impact in our own families as we personally have, or are currently working on, ushering a cumulative total of 16 children through to graduation in the hopes that they grow into adults who are ready for whatever their future endeavors might be. We have high hopes and big dreams, not only for our own children, but for each child who enters through the doors of our schools.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been incredibly difficult on everyone. We are not immune to the realities: fatigue over restrictions, concern over what it means for our loved ones, loneliness in isolation, sadness over our divided nation, apprehension over the future, and so many other aspects. We are with you, doing our best to remain positive, stay healthy (both physically and mentally), and remaining hopeful for a better tomorrow.

Heading into the summer, we, as a board, were so hopeful that this school year would look much more normal. Then, the Delta variant hit our community hard. It didn’t take long before the subsequent mandates and directives came down from the governing authorities above us. Some of these mandates seemed fairly reasonable given the contagious nature of the Delta variant. Some of them we didn’t like and, quite frankly, didn’t even necessarily agree with. This is where we find ourselves now – desperate to spend our time solely doing the good work behind teaching kids to read, do math, and explore the world side-by-side with their peers.

As a board, we collectively have two main priorities as they pertain to this pandemic. First, we need to keep kids and their families safe. Second, we need to do our best to keep kids in school. We have never, nor do we plan to, operate outside the advice of experts in healthcare. We recognize that there are many people who have opinions on how we move forward and we value these opinions! Each of us comes to this place in time with our own perspective, and these various perspectives give us insight into how the pandemic is affecting the families in our community. That being said, the COVID-19 pandemic is a health crisis and any decisions we make will be made solely at the recommendation of experts in the field of healthcare. Our school district is in weekly communication with the Clark and Cowlitz Departments of Health, and we are also speaking to pediatricians and other medical doctors who live and work in SW Washington to see if there is alignment between them and our local health departments.

We hear from some in our community who desire for us, your school board, to defy these mandates, making decisions on our own that reflect their wishes. We cannot do this for three reasons. First, we’ve each sworn an oath of office that states we will follow the Constitution and laws of the state, an oath we take very seriously. Second, defying mandates would put the funding we receive from the state at great risk, cutting our funding by about 87%. Third, as mentioned above and of primary importance, we are committed to listening to and following the learned advice of health experts.

You might wonder why we require all students and staff to follow state requirements when the risk is low for many. The reason behind this can be found in our vision statement, which says:

Woodland Public Schools, in partnership with families and the community, will create a PreK-12 system that serves and supports ALL children and ensures that EACH child has FULL access to, is engaged in, and obtains an excellent education that prepares them for responsible citizenship and a future of adaptability and success in life and their chosen endeavors. 

Highlighted in our vision are the words “ALL” and “EACH.” As a public school district, we need to make absolutely certain that our schools are accessible to ALL families; to EACH child who should choose to receive their education in WPS. Within our Woodland community are many, including children, parents, and guardians, who have health challenges that put them at greater risk for illness. It is our duty and our privilege to do our very best to make a safe environment for each of these children.

Please remember that we are regular citizens like you. Each of us has experienced loss these past two years. We are continually evaluating and re-evaluating our systems in an effort to respond to the pandemic and minimize its impact. We fully recognize that this has had a huge impact on students, their families, and our staff. For that, we are saddened.

Thank you to those who have graciously shared how we can do better. It’s important to us to fulfill our role to the best of our ability and with integrity. 

Sincerely,

The Board of Directors for Woodland Public Schools

Click here to download a PDF of the Board Letter in Spanish

 


 

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Woodland Public Schools is dedicated to returning kids to normalcy as quickly and safely as possibleWoodland Public Schools is dedicated to returning kids to normalcy as quickly and safely as possible

 

While the Woodland community may be aware of some of the changes made by the dedicated administrators and staff of your Woodland Public Schools, we want to share with you the hard work and dedicated efforts made by your schools to make Woodland a leader in the return to normalcy for our students.

Woodland Public Schools was the first area district to return elementary students to full-time, in-person school
We understand the importance of in-person learning both to the academic achievement of our students but also to their mental health and well-being. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of our administrators, teachers, classified staff, and more, Woodland Public Schools was the first school district in our area to return all of our elementary students to full-time, in-person school.

Our team worked closely with the Department of Health to demonstrate how students could return to in-person learning, and to show how schools could operate in a pandemic environment using social distancing, mask-wearing, and contact-tracing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Less social-distancing, more social-experiencing
By collaborating with other school districts, we were able to demonstrate to the Department of Health that the social distancing rules of six feet of distance between students could be reduced to three feet and still effectively prevent the spread of the virus. 

This reduction in social distancing helped our staff more efficiently organize learning spaces, and, perhaps more importantly, also let our students sit closer together for better social experiences that are such an important part of school for our children.

 

Woodland Public Schools collaborated to ensure high school students could celebrate homecomingWoodland Public Schools collaborated to ensure high school students could celebrate homecoming

 

At Woodland High School, our staff collaborated with other school districts in our area and the Department of Health to make the school’s first Homecoming Dance in two years a reality. Thanks to big 40-foot-by-40-foot tents and space heaters generously provided by the community, our students celebrated homecoming in style.

Additionally, the tents will remain set up all year so students can enjoy the outdoors mask-free during lunch and breaks without concern of potential inclement weather.

Teamwork is key. Our staff works closely together with each other, with other districts, and with state agencies to find new ways to re-introduce normalcy to our students’ lives. As we fight the spread of COVID-19 together, finding ways to keep our students mentally healthy by providing social experiences remains a top priority while also preventing the spread of the virus.

Woodland Public Schools ushered in the return of extracurricular activities including music and athletics
We were among the first to bring back music classes and athletics. Additionally, by collaborating with the Department of Health, we have also seen the return of spectator-attended events including sports games and band concerts. 

Our band and choir students wear specially-designed protective equipment and maintain social distancing in order to keep our music classes in session. Our staff deeply understands the importance of extracurricular activities and has dedicated a great deal of effort to ensure our students can participate in these important parts of the school experience.

How you can help
While still respecting the mandates and guidelines presented by both the Federal and State governments, we continue to affect change as a district to ensure our students can feel as normal as possible in these unprecedented times. 

However, we can always use your help. We encourage community members to share feedback, ideas and suggestions with the Department of Health as well as our local state legislators.

While we are experts in education, we are not experts in health and safety. We cannot ignore or modify the mandates passed down by Washington State. In order to make change, our state legislature needs to hear from you – the citizens of our great state – so they know how to make the changes that will make a difference in our students’ lives.

We continue to make efforts not to just keep our students in school by closely following health and safety guidelines, but we continue to work hard to find ways to return our learning environments to normalcy as soon as reasonably possible.

Thank you, as always, to our amazing community for your ongoing support of your schools. Together we will make profound differences in our students’ lives!

 


 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Why school districts must follow the state mask-wearing and COVID-19 vaccine mandates

A few community members have reached out to inquire why the staff and students of Woodland Public Schools must follow the state-issued mandates on mask-wearing and COVID-19 vaccinations. While individuals have the right to possess a particular political viewpoint, public agencies such as local school districts serve all members of the community, regardless of political affiliation or perspective.

Accordingly, school districts must remain non-political as we serve everyone in our communities. We serve all without regard to each community member’s personal political perspectives and opinions. In reference to school districts, public agencies must abide by the laws, guidelines, and mandates passed down by State and Federal governments. That duty is especially important when those mandates directly affect the health and safety of students and staff in school districts.

Woodland Public Schools follows the state mandate that all staff and students must wear masks inside school buildings at all times. While many find mask-wearing uncomfortable or unattractive, studies repeatedly show that the act of wearing masks reduces the risk of contracting and/or spreading contagious viruses such as COVID-19. 

As new cases of COVID-19 become fewer, the decision makers in Olympia may choose to eliminate or modify the mandate. Woodland Public Schools will follow new health and safety requirements as directed. For community members who disagree with any requirement or mandate, we encourage them to reach out to their local state representatives as those are the individuals who have influence in the political arena. 

The staff of Woodland Public Schools will always seek to protect the health and safety of our students as our top priority so we can keep our schools open and our students learning in-person. 

 


 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

How is the vaccine mandate impacting staffing at Woodland Public Schools?

We have heard concerns from some members of the community that Woodland Public Schools is firing a large number of staff due to the impact from the Washington State Vaccine Mandate.

In August, Governor Jay Inslee and the state legislature required all K-12 staff throughout Washington to receive the COVID-19 vaccination or have an approved exemption by October 18. All staff were informed of this requirement on August 18, 2021 to ensure enough time to fulfill the requirements of the mandate.

In Woodland Public Schools, NO teachers will be terminated – all have been immunized against COVID-19 and/or have been approved for an exemption prior to the deadline. Out of the 447 staff members Woodland Public Schools employs, only seven (7) did not provide proof-of-vaccination or receive an exemption.

“Our top priorities at Woodland Public Schools are to keep kids in school with in-person learning while ensuring we do everything to keep our community’s children safe and healthy.” said Superintendent Michael Green. “The goal of the mandate is to slow the spread of a deadly pandemic; the reality of the mandate is that we are losing valued members of our school family.  I wish there were options to retain them.”