Updated March 28, 2021

Total number of confirmed cases in our schools since Nov. 2, 2020 requiring contact tracing notification (per health department guidance): 31

Estimated number of students in-person: 9,190

Estimated number of staff working on site in-person: 1,600

Current Reported Cases Among In-Person Students/Staff

Dashboard shows current confirmed positive cases of Bellingham Public Schools students or staff engaged in in-person learning or work at a district site. In order to keep the dashboard up-to-date and relevant, cases where contacts have returned to in-person learning or work are archived at Past Cases Dashboard below. If a case is determined to have no contacts and no closures are required in a small in-person learning community it may not be possible to share data and also protect confidential health information. The Washington State Department of Health small numbers reporting guidelines provides more information about data reporting and protecting confidential health information.
Past Cases Dashboard


Notification Protocol

We work closely with the health department when there is a confirmed case associated with our schools. Here are the steps we follow for confirmed cases of COVID-19.

  1. When we learn of a case of COVID-19, we first confirm with the health department that the confirmed case is associated with our schools.
  2. Our schools each have COVID site safety teams who help initiate contact tracing. If there are close contacts of a confirmed case, we work with the health department to notify staff and parents/guardians that there has been contact with a confirmed case.
  3. Next steps are determined by the health department, which may include recommendations for COVID testing, isolation and/or quarantine. We communicate directly to impacted staff and families and share resources according to the guidance of the health department.
  4. In some cases, a group of students will shift to remote learning for a period of time designated by the health department.
Who is receiving in-person instruction in our schools?

Sample Notification Letters

Draft template for confirmed exposure email used for contact tracing.

Dear families,

The Whatcom County Health Department is asking us to send the following message to you regarding the recent confirmed case of COVID-19 at ____.

Please read the following message carefully and contact your health care provider if you have questions. Please expect school for ____’s classroom to be remote until ___.

A Message from the Whatcom County Health Department

Dear family,

An individual at the school has tested positive for COVID-19. Your child has been identified as a close contact.

The Whatcom County Health Department asks that you quarantine your child for 14 days after the day of last exposure which was on _____________. Please stay home, avoid going out, and stay away from other people. Your child’s siblings and other household members do not have to quarantine unless your child develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19.

A person who tests positive with COVID-19, is considered contagious 2 days prior to symptom onset and for 10 days afterwards OR 2 days prior to a positive test if tested when they weren’t having any symptoms and for 10 days after the date of the positive test. It can take 2-14 days to develop symptoms after exposure to a person contagious with COVID-19.

The Whatcom County Health Department will contact you. They will ask about symptoms, arrange for testing 48 hours or more after the exposure, and give you information about COVID-19 and quarantine. If your child tests negative, please know that a negative test does not release your child early from quarantine. A person could turn positive later within the 14-day quarantine.

During quarantine stay home and watch for symptoms. COVID-19 illness can be mild to severe. Symptoms can appear anytime between 2 and 14 days after exposure. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, headache, body aches, congestion, sore throat, diarrhea, and loss of smell or taste. If your child develops symptoms or if anyone in your household is experiencing symptoms, we advise them to get tested.

Call the Whatcom County Health Department to report symptoms and arrange testing. Health Nurse Line: 360-778-6128.

For testing: www.Testdirectly.com

Please do not return to school until you have received a release letter from the Whatcom County Health Department.

Please know that the school is working closely with the Whatcom County Health Department to ensure schools are following all the current best practices for preventing COVID-19. For more information: https://www.whatcomcounty.us/3329/Novel-Coronavirus-COVID-19  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html  

https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/COVIDexposed.pdf

 

Draft template for confirmed case at a school. Message goes to all families at a school beyond close contacts.

Dear families,

I am writing to inform you that there has been a confirmed positive COVID–19 case at our school.  The person with a positive diagnosis is currently not in contact with students or staff. Because this is private health information, we will not share details about which class or grade level the positive case occurred in. We are working with the Whatcom County Health Department and have contacted students or staff members who are considered close contacts.

Thanks to our partnership with the health department, we have good plans in place including guidance for communication with our families. We will follow their recommendations to share information with the appropriate set of people. Additionally, our school nurse and staff work closely with local health officials to maintain safety protocols to mitigate risk, which includes checking students for symptoms every day, mask-wearing, frequent hand-washing, and maintaining distance and small groups.  Please see this webpage to see our district resources, which includes our FAQ and safety agreement for families.

Thank you. Feel free to reach out with questions. I’ll do my best to answer questions, but again, due to confidentiality, I may be limited in what I can share.

Terminology
  • Exposure or contact is usually defined as being within six feet or more and spending 15 minutes or longer with someone who has tested positive for COVID.
  • Quarantine is when someone is asked to stay home due to ​exposure to someone who is infected, because they could become contagious.
  • ​Isolation is when some is asked to stay home because of illness or possible illness, ​and they are contagious.
  • One confirmed case is not an outbreak. An outbreak is defined as two or more cases with transmission occurring between them.
Why might we not report a confirmed case that doesn’t require contact tracing?

There is a legal requirement to keep protected health information confidential. If no contact tracing and no closures are required in a small in-person learning community it may not be possible to share data and also protect confidential health information. The Washington State Department of Health small numbers reporting guidelines provides more information about data reporting and protecting confidential health information.

What is considered a confirmed case that requires contact tracing?

An individual with a positive COVID-19 test result who may have had contact with individuals in our schools is considered a confirmed case that requires contact tracing. We collaborate with the health department to complete “contact tracing” to determine if any individuals are close contacts and need to take required next steps per health department recommendations.