Student health and safety is of the utmost importance to the Ridgefield School District. With COVID activity still at elevated levels in Clark County, the district has implemented health and safety measures to help safeguard the health of students and staff.
Tara Arter, the district's Health and Wellness Coordinator, explains that the multi-faceted approach helps protect students and prevent virus spread. Ongoing safety measures include indoor masking, teaching and encouraging good personal hygiene habits, maintaining social distancing, improved ventilation indoors, setting up lunch tents to allow for more outdoor dining, tracking and reporting cases in schools, and raising awareness of symptoms.
Masks are required for all students, staff, and volunteers while indoors at Ridgefield schools, as well as on school buses. Arter says that parents and guardians can help ensure proper masking by sending an extra mask with their student each day as a backup.
Students, teachers, and staff are also practicing social distancing. In the classrooms, a distance of at least three feet should be maintained. The number of visitors to the school is also minimized whenever possible. Parents and guardians are asked to wait by their cars when picking students up rather than coming into the building.
Improving ventilation is another important COVID prevention measure. All site-based ventilation system air filters in Ridgefield schools now have MERV13 filters to provide a higher level of protection. In addition, HVAC systems are now programmed to complete a full air exchange at the beginning and end of each day, and air circulation has been increased throughout the day at all district schools. This year, the district also purchased large tents for all school campuses so that students can eat meals outdoors without having to worry about weather conditions.
Recently, Governor Inslee announced that all school staff and volunteers will be required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18. While students are not required to be vaccinated, parents and guardians can send a picture of vaccination cards to the school district’s health and wellness staff if they wish to update their student’s records.
The Ridgefield School District has also launched a COVID Case Dashboard to help keep track of cases. Each Tuesday, the dashboard is updated to report the number of students and staff in the district who tested positive and were confirmed to be on campus during the time they were contagious. The Dashboard can be viewed at https://www.ridgefieldsd.org/o/district/page/covid-19-dashboard--45.
Arter asks that parents and guardians help prevent the spread of COVID by keeping students home if they are experiencing any symptoms that could be COVID related. These symptoms include cough, fever, headache, fatigue, loss of taste/smell, nasal congestion, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle/body aches.
Before returning to school, students with any of those symptoms must be tested for COVID with a molecular test. If students experience any of these symptoms during the school day, the Washington Department of Health guidelines mandate that the student be sent home. To help avoid any confusion, the district has symptom flowcharts for both students and staff to know when to stay home, when to seek testing, and when to quarantine, if necessary. These flowcharts are posted on the district’s Health and Safety webpage at www.ridgefieldsd.org/o/district/page/covid19-health-safety.
These ongoing health and safety measures are intended to be an easy way to help prevent the spread of COVID in our schools and in the wider Ridgefield community.
“Implementing these measures helps keep Ridgefield students safe and healthy so their focus can be on learning,” Arter said. “We appreciate all of the family and community support as we work together to fight COVID.”