Updated August 27, 2021

The main menu of the district and building websites have a link titled COVID-19 INFO. The Whatcom County Health Department also hosts a Novel Coronavirus (COVID19) Information Page on their website.

Yes, we have planned for our regular daily schedules five days a week for the 2021-22 school year.We expect a full return to our classrooms for in-person learning. We are excited to have our students with us as we know it’s best for learning and socialization. We cannot know whether the conditions will change. We have followed the K12 Guidance and Department of Health guidelines and will continue to do so. Any reduction to in-person learning will be at the direction of the Health Department, OSPI, or the Governor’s Office. If the guidance changes, we will be sure to communicate those changes immediately.

An exposure or a close contact is someone who was within six feet of a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 cumulative minutes over a 24-hour period during the period of time when the person with COVID-19 was infectious. In the classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students who were at least three feet away from an infected student when (a) both students were wearing face coverings/masks and (b) other preventative strategies were in place. A close contact will be quarantined, stays home and away from others for the recommended period of time. Further details may be found at the K-12 COVID-19 Requirements for Summer 2021
and the 2021-2022 School Year
.

Quarantining

According to Washington State Department of Health guidance, found at the K-12 COVID-19 Requirements for Summer 2021 and the 2021-2022 School Year, quarantine is when someone who has been exposed to COVID-19 stays home and away from others for the recommended period of time in case they were infected and are contagious. People who may be exempt from quarantine:

  • Close contacts who are fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms do not need to quarantine but should be tested 3-5 days following known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and wear a mask in all public indoor spaces for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result. They should isolate and follow appropriate guidance if they test positive. If they develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19, they should isolate themselves from others, be clinically evaluated for COVID-19, and be tested for SARS-CoV-2 if indicated. The symptomatic fully vaccinated person should inform their healthcare provider of their vaccination status at the time of presentation to care.
  • Close contacts who had confirmed COVID-19 in the past three months, have recovered and do not have symptoms, do not need to quarantine but should watch for symptoms and get tested if symptoms develop. If a close contact is neither fully vaccinated nor recovered from confirmed COVID-19 in the past three months and does not have symptoms, the close contact must quarantine unless the school has chosen to adopt a “test to stay” protocol with approval from local public health. Close contacts following a test to stay protocol must still quarantine at home away from others except for attending school (e.g., the person may not participate in extra-curricular or after-school activities and should not attend social gatherings, etc.).
  • If 14 days is not possible, quarantine can last for 10 days after the last close contact, 12 without additional testing required. However, if any COVID-19 symptoms develop during the 10 days, remain in quarantine for the full 14 days and get tested. Continue monitoring for symptoms until day 14.

What is the Meridian School District using for Diagnostic testing?

Per the Washington State Department of Health K-12 COVID-19 Requirements for Summer 2021 and the 2021-2022 School Year, schools must ensure access to timely diagnostic testing among students with symptoms or who are close contacts of someone with COVID-19. This can be done at the school, at a centralized site for the district, and/or in partnership with a trusted and accessible community-based testing provider and local public health. Timely testing of symptomatic students and staff helps reduce days of in-person instruction lost. Additionally, symptomatic individuals with negative COVID-19 test results may be able to return to school earlier.

It is essential to limit potential disease transmission by ensuring prompt isolation of cases and quarantine of close contacts through effective case investigation and contact tracing. Reduced onward transmission can lessen the number of contacts who will need to quarantine and can prevent the closure of classrooms or a school.

Meridian is using DOH’s Learn to Return Testing program to help meet general diagnostic testing and high-contact sport screening testing requirements. During the 2020-2021 school year if students or staff were considered a close contact they were quarantined for the 14 days, which resulted in a dramatic loss of in-person instructional time.

What will this testing look like?

The Learn to Return program uses two different types of tests to keep students safe and in school. Both of these testing options are voluntary and students can opt-in with parent permission. Parents will be contacted prior to testing and a consent form will be available as well.

Screening

Meridian School District will utilize two types of testing. The first is a rapid antigen test for those students and staff who are determined to be close contacts but are not displaying any symptoms. This same rapid antigen test will also be used for Meridian School District’s High Contact sports (wrestling, basketball, and cheer). Close contacts will be administered a rapid antigen test (BinaxNow). Results from this test are obtained within fifteen (15) minutes. If the test is negative the close contact can remain in class.

Diagnostic

If a close contact receives a positive test result from the rapid antigen or is displaying symptoms, then a diagnostic test is administered. Meridian will use Curative PCR for these tests. The Curative test is sent to a lab for processing and typically results are back within 72 hours. The person who has been tested will follow the quarantine process until the results are returned and symptoms have improved; no fever for 24 hours while also not taking fever-reducing medication, and have two negative PCR tests collected at least 24 hours apart. When these students who are close contacts return to school, they continue twice weekly BinaxNow testing until day 10 after their exposure to the original case.

Shallow nasal swab tests: Both tests utilize painless shallow nasal swab test kits. With these kits, you collect your own sample under the observation of a trained test administrator. Meridian School District will train people designated by the school to hand out and collect the test kits.

The DOH guidelines often change, and as such, our protocols also may change without prior notice. Meridian School District will update with page if the guidance changes. If you have any questions regarding testing or COVID protocols please contact our district nurse, Amber Erdmann at (360) 318-2176.

Volunteers included in this requirement include those who engage or are reasonably likely to engage in work near others while physically present at a school building or other districtfacilitated site for longer periods of time. The requirement does not apply to volunteers who are only physically present for short periods of time and any moments of close physical proximity to others on-site is fleeting. More information may be found here: COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for K12 School Employees: FAQ.

No. Such a policy would violate the Secretary of Health’s Order 20-03.4, and Governor Inslee’s Proclamations 20-25.14 and 20-09.4, each of which require the wearing of face coverings in schools, with limited exceptions that do not include philosophical disagreements with the mask mandates. The Order and Proclamations are binding law that the Board of Directors lacks legal authority to violate or ignore. Condoning or allowing violations of the mask mandates would have serious consequences for the District. In addition to increasing the spread of COVID-19 among students, staff, and the Meridian community, other consequences can include a loss of state funding, forced school closures, a likelihood of lawsuits against the District which would not be covered by the District’s insurance, liability for violations of the federal special education law arising from school closures, and criminal punishment.

All students who are at least five years old must wear a cloth face covering (or more protective face covering, such as an N95 mask), with limited exceptions for students with a medical condition, mental health condition, developmental or cognitive condition, or disability that prevents wearing a cloth face covering. In rare circumstances when those reasons prevent a student from wearing a cloth face covering, they may use a clear face covering or a face shield with a drape or wrap as an alternative to a cloth face covering. Please contact your school principal if you believe your student has a medical condition, mental health condition, developmental or cognitive condition, or disability that prevents them from wearing a cloth face covering.

 

The school district will be providing gender-neutral restrooms. Civil rights laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender expression and gender equity. According to Board Policy and Procedure 3211, and state and federal discrimination laws, students will be allowed to use the restroom that corresponds to the gender identity they assert at school. No student will be required to use a restroom that conflicts with their gender identity. Any student – regardless of gender identity – who requests greater privacy should be given access to an alternative restroom. However, schools may not require a student to use an alternative restroom because of their transgender or gender-expansive status.

In addition to a girl’s and boy’s restroom, each building has gender-neutral restrooms that are single occupancy and have the ability to lock when occupied. For safety reasons, special locks have been installed to allow access by administrators in an emergency situation. All students seeking greater privacy have access to these restrooms.

If a student attempts or uses the bathroom that does not correspond to their gender identity, disciplinary action may be taken by the building administration.

According to Board Policy 3211, based on state and federal discrimination laws, use of locker rooms by transgender or gender-expansive students will be assessed on a case by case basis, with the goal of maximizing transgender or gender-expansive student social integration, providing an equal opportunity to participate in physical education classes and athletic opportunities and ensuring that student’s safety. The district will take an approach that conforms with OSPI ‘s guidelines. In most cases, the district should provide the student access to the locker room that corresponds to the gender identity they assert at school. Reasonable alternatives to locker room conditions for any student who wants additional privacy include, but are not limited to:

  • Use of a private area (e.g., nearby restroom stall with a door, an area separated by a curtain, an office in the locker room, or a nearby health office restroom);
  • A separate changing schedule (i.e., utilizing the locker room before or after the other students).

The school will provide accommodations needed to allow the student to keep their transgender or gender-expansive status private. No student will be required to use a locker room that conflicts with his or her gender identity.

WIAA provides guidance regarding transgender or gender-expansive students participating in athletics. They have created the Gender Diverse Youth Sport Inclusivity Toolkit that provides best practices for supporting all student-athletes. According to this toolkit, “Gender diverse students are not typically offered immediate access to a locker room or team based on a single statement because optimizing the experience for that student often requires some level of preparation.” Meridian school district is working with the staff at each building to finalize a support plan for our transgender or gender-expansive students. A student who has questions regarding this process should reach out to their counselor or other trusted staff member.

We have no specific critical race theory curriculum for students. Teachers will be addressing Washington State’s learning standards. To learn more visit OSPI Learning Standards & Instructional Materials. We are committed to serving all kids and making sure everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed, be treated with dignity, and be valued.

Teachers should be teaching about historical and social issues from a balanced perspective. We will teach about race, racism, and history in a balanced manner. We will continue the work to make Meridian a place where every student feels a sense of belonging and sees themselves and people like them reflected in what they learn at school.

Senate Bill 5044 was signed into law in 2020. The bill requires teaching the adults in Washington school systems (teachers, paraprofessionals, classified staff, administrators, and board members) about cultural competency, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

These concepts are to help us increase our ability to ensure every student feels as though they belong and are treated with dignity. The bill provides legal definitions for these terms. ESSB 5044 Fact Sheet

Senate Bill 5395 was passed by the Washington State Legislature in 2020. Meridian School District will be working with Cardea to develop a needs assessment and facilitate a process for selecting a curriculum.

Cardea provides professional development for teachers who will teach the determined curriculum. We will engage in this process this fall – and ensure there are opportunities for community input. As required by SB 5395, there will be a clear, prescribed process for opting out of the sexual health education curriculum.