FAQ’s – COVID Public Health

COVID Public Health Requirements

Frequently Asked Questions

Public Health Guidelines and Information

Has the school district communicated with public health officials about the COVID case rates and metrics that may be used to determine if the mask mandates and other mitigation requirements may be removed?

Yes, the superintendent has asked both local and state health officials about the future metrics that may be used. Health officials have been asked, what metrics (COVID case rates, hospitalization rates, vaccination rates or other factors) will be used to inform local health jurisdictions and state health department in deciding to remove masking or mitigation requirements? No information has been provided.

What is the purpose of the Learn-to-Return program?

Learn-to-Return is a COVID-19 testing program available to schools.  It provides free, accessible testing offered at the school site.  The goal is to maximize student and staff time for learning, athletics, and all extracurricular activities.  The testing program is designed to make testing readily available to staff and students.  It also allows parents to opt into a “test to stay” program if their student is identified as a close contact at school. 

When do Washington Department of Health guidelines require student-athletes to take a COVID test?
Screening testing is required for all high-risk indoor sports. For Lynden, this applies to basketball, wrestling and indoor cheer. All unvaccinated middle school and high school students participating in basketball, wrestling, or cheerleading will be required to participate in screening testing twice weekly. In addition, unvaccinated coaches, trainers and other personnel who work with basketball, wrestling, and cheerleading must also participate in screening testing. Screening testing is also available in specified performing arts activities (e.g., theatrical productions like plays and musicals, speech/debate) before the unvaccinated participant can remove their mask to rehearse or perform indoors.

ESSER Funding to Support School Districts

How much Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding will the district receive between 2020 and 2023 (three school years)?

The school district will be receiving a total of $3,887,329 over a period of three school years (20-21, 21-22 and 22-23)

What may the ESSER funds be used by school districts?

The American Recovery Act (ARP) ESSER funds, per OSPI, “provide funding to school districts to support sustained safe building reopening’s and operations while meeting the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of students resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

How is the school district using ESSER funds to support and respond to the needs of students, staff, and school operations during the pandemic?

School districts have flexibility in how they use the ESSER funds. The ESSER funds are being used by the Lynden School District in the following areas:

Addressing learning loss among students

Added 3 Learning Support Specialists (Interventionists); 1 in each elementary school

Added 2 instructors to serve families in full remote model at Lynden Academy

Provided capacity to add Multilingual Coordinator in grades 6-12

Committed funds to extended day programs and potential summer school

Committed funds to purchased assessment and curricular materials

Providing health services and supports

Added nursing and health room assistant services across each school

Provided capacity to add full time District Mental Health Coordinator

Purchased personal protective equipment, cleaning & sanitation supplies, and completed air filtration upgrades to meet health & safety operation guidelines

Other activities and purchases necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services

Purchased instructional technology, hardware, and software, to support remote learning

Added classroom space (portables) and furniture to support in person learning model

Responding to State Requirements – Washington Law

What is statute (law) called in Washington State?

Revised Code of Washington (RCW) is the collection of all permanent laws now in force in Washington State.

What authority does the Governor have to require the wearing of masks?

RCW 43.06.220 provides the Governor of Washington state of emergency powers that can be put in place by proclamation.

(1) The governor after proclaiming a state of emergency and prior to terminating such, may, in the areas described by the proclamation issue an order prohibiting:

(h) Such other activities as he or she reasonably believes should be prohibited to help reserve and maintain life, health, property, or the public peace.

Proclamation by the Governor: 20-25.14 – Proclamation 20-25.14

Now, Therefore….do hereby proclaim and order that a State of Emergency continues to exist in all counties in Washington State, that Proclamation 20-05 – Proclamation 20-05

What authority does the state and local health department have to require the wearing of masks?

RCW 43.70.130 states the State Secretary of Health will:

(5) Investigate outbreaks and epidemics of disease that may occur and advise local health officers as to measures to be taken to prevent and control the same:

Order of the Secretary of Health-Amending Order 20-03 – Proclamation 20-03

20-03.6 Face Coverings – Statewide – Proclamation 20-03.6

What authority does the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction have to withhold school funding (apportionment)?

The state Superintendent has constitutional authority under RCW 28A.300.040, “to have supervision over all matters pertaining to public schools of the state.” Per the attached communication:
Letter to Superintendent/Boards
dated July 29, 2021, to local School Directors and Superintendents, state Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chris Reykdal stated,

“apportionment amounts and timing are shaped by additional law, but let me be clear: Boards or districts that intentionally disobey, dismiss, or shun an explicit law, including a Governor’s executive order, which has the power of law, will see an immediate halt to their basic education apportionment, and their federal funds that come through OSPI.”

Additionally, superintendent Reykdal indicated,

“These critical public health actions, including masking now, are not at the discretion of local boards or local superintendents.”

Will the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction withhold funds from local school districts who willfully fail to comply with health and safety measures required by Governor Inslee?

The state Superintendent, per the attached communication:
Letter to District Leaders
dated August 25, 2021, to local School Directors and Superintendents, shared that he filed an emergency rule defining the process for districts who willfully fail to comply with the requirements. The emergency rule is in Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 392-117-080.

How much state funding would the school district not receive if the Board and superintendent “intentionally disobey, dismiss, or shun an explicit law, including a Governor’s executive order?”

The school district state basic education apportionment and federal funds that come through OSPI would be withheld. The total amount withheld would be approximately 75-80% of the school district’s monthly funding.

What would the consequences be if the school district did not receive the state and federal funding?

The school district would not be able to meet its monthly financial obligations for expenses such as salaries, benefits, utilities, contractual agreements, and facilities maintenance.

What authority does a school district board of directors have regarding the requiring of students and staff to wear masks?

RCW 28A.320.015 states:

(1) The board of directors of each school district may exercise the following:
(a) The broad discretionary power to determine and adopt written policies
not in conflict with other law that provide for the development and implementation of programs, activities, services, or practices….

Local school boards have discretion to establish local policy. They do not have the authority to adopt rules or policy that is “in conflict with other law.” Therefore, local school boards cannot write rules or policy that override the statutory authority of the Governor, Secretary of Health, or Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Are school district facilities used by the Whatcom County Health Department to operate a vaccine clinic?

Yes, the Whatcom County Health Department has hosted a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for the community since June of 2021. The clinic is staffed by county health officials and is available for community members of all ages who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. The clinic has utilized district space (old gymnasium and old middle school on Main St.) through a facilities use rental agreement.

Has the school district previously allowed government agencies to utilize district facilities through community use rental agreements?

Yes, the school district has historically worked with “School or Child Related Groups or Other Government Agencies” (ex., city, county, police dept., fire dept.) through facilities use rental agreements. The school district does not receive funds (rent) from Whatcom County Health Department or other agencies when they use district facilities.

Per Lynden School District Policy 4260, Use of School Facilities, “School or Child Related Groups or Other Government Agencies include those organizations whose main purpose is to promote the welfare of students, or to provide members of the community access to government programs or opportunities for civic participation.”

Does the Lynden School District vaccinate students?

The Lynden School District is not administering vaccines of any kind to students. Vaccinations are provided by licensed medical providers (ex., public health clinics, medical offices).

Has the Washington Department of Health (WDOH) or Whatcom County Health Department provided direction to school districts regarding students receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?

No, Washington state and local health departments have not provided direction to or placed requirements upon the Lynden School District regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.