Ocean Shores Elementary closed after wave of illnesses reported


Illnesses have ranged from simple colds to RSV, stomach flu, strep throat, COVID-19 and influenza, according to the school district.

OCEAN SHORES, Wash — Ocean Shores Elementary closed Tuesday for deep cleaning amid a large number of illnesses, according to the North Beach School District

“The winter illnesses are something our school and families deal with every year,” a statement from the school district reads. “This year is no exception.”

Illnesses have ranged from simple colds to RSV, stomach flu, strep throat, COVID-19 and influenza, according to the statement. Multiple staff and students have tested positive for COVID, with “almost all grades affected.”

“Unfortunately, it appears to be COVID’s turn to have the highest activity,” the district’s statement reads.

According to the most recent data from the Washington State Department of Health, there is a COVID-19 case rate of 43 per 100,000 people in Grays Harbor County. Statewide, the Department of Health is reporting 71 cases per 100,000 people.

Before the state of the school year, the Department of Health released updated guidance for how schools and childcare centers handle COVID. 

The guidance, which applies to kindergarten through 12th grade as well as child care, includes four main points:

  • When someone tests positive: Students and employees who test positive for COVID-19 are required to isolate for five days, regardless of vaccination status. They may return after the five-day isolation period if they don’t have symptoms and have had no fever for the previous 24 hours. Those who test positive after the five-day isolation period must extend their isolation another five days. Those with symptoms are also required to stay at home.

  • When someone returns from isolation: After returning from the five-day isolation, both students and staff should wear a “well-fitted” mask for five more days. DOH also encourages students and staff to test again before returning.

  • What notifications are required: Schools and childcare facilities are required to notify students, staff, and families of cases and of an outbreak. These notifications can be made through newsletters, dashboards, or group messages, for example. Schools are encouraged to include details such as the number of cases and locations where students may have been exposed.

  • Reporting to public health officials: They are still required to report outbreaks to local health authorities and to have a response system in place. An outbreak is described as three or more cases within a group or at least 10% of students and staff testing positive within a group. 

Masking is not mandatory as of the publication of this article, but it is recommended by the CDC, especially when community transmission is high. The DOH recommends masking when a school or facility is experiencing an outbreak of cases among a core group.

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