17 December 2021

The latest updates on COVID-19, testing, and vaccines curated for L2R school districts.

COVID-19 Outbreaks

New safety guidance for indoor sports

In the wake of a multi-school, multi-county outbreak of COVID-19 including confirmed omicron cases, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has updated requirements for all indoor, high-contact sports and activities including basketball, wrestling, water polo, and competitive cheer.

The following health and safety measures go into effect immediately:

    • Required testing of all athletes, coaches, trainers, and support personnel, regardless of vaccination status.
    • Increased testing frequency to three times per week with at least one test conducted within 24 hours of competition, ideally the day of the competition whenever possible.

In addition, DOH wants to remind people of existing requirements for all K-12 sporting events that help keep athletes, staff, and families safer when attending these events:

    • All indoor event spectators must wear masks and should distance from other families or households to the degree possible.
    • Mask wearing is required among all athletes except when actively competing.
    • Coaches, trainers, and support personnel must wear face coverings at all times in indoor public spaces.
    • Referees must wear masks except when actively officiating.

Don’t hesitate to get your booster! Vaccines and boosters increase protection against infection and severe disease caused by COVID-19, including new variants.

“Vaccinations, in addition to testing and masking, will help keep our athletes healthy and allow everyone to continue to enjoy sporting events while also limiting the spread of disease. Getting a booster will make protection against the omicron variant even stronger. The booster vaccine is now available for everyone 16 years and older.”

Dr. Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, Chief Science Officer, Washington State Department of Health

    Read the full press release from DOH and review the K-12 COVID-19 Requirements for the 2021-2022 School Year for more details about these changes.

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    New Variant of Concern

    Omicron Update

    We are keeping track of news about the new variant as it develops. Here’s what to know as we head into the winter break:

    Here’s what to know:

      • Studies suggest that omicron is more transmissible than previous variants due to a high level of unique mutations.
      • Although high transmissibility is likely, early reports indicate that omicron may cause less severe disease as compared with previous variants such as delta.
      • Vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalization, and death caused by omicron, but breakthrough infections are likely to occur.
      • Boosters increase protection against infection, including from new variants.
      • Delta is still the predominant variant in the United States and is driving COVID-19 related hospitalizations and deaths.
      • Most hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 are among unvaccinated people.
      • As of Tuesday, December 14th, 9 omicron cases have been confirmed in Washington state.
      • Vaccines remain the best public health measure to protect people from COVID-19, slow transmission, and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging.
      • Evidence shows that wearing a mask reduces an infected person’s chance of spreading the infection to others.

    The bottom line as we approach the holidays: Get vaccinated. Get boosted.

    “Washington adults should not delay receiving their booster until more is known about omicron. Vaccination and boosters are the best weapons we have to fight coronavirus now – preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death.”

    Dr. Umair A. Shah, Washington State Secretary of Health

      Learn more about the pediatric vaccine authorized for children ages 5 to 11 on our Vaccine FAQs page.

      Use the Washington State Department of Health vaccine locator to schedule your vaccines and boosters.

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      Vendor’s Corner

      What’s new in the L2R Toolbox?

      Check out the new and improved BD Veritor Implementation Guide! This tool provides the information you need to launch or scale your testing program with the BD Veritor rapid antigen tests.

      Quickly learn how to:

        • Order testing kits
        • Train test observers
        • Conduct quality control
        • Report results

      Download the full guide here.

      Translated rapid antigen consent form

      A general consent form that can be used for ALL rapid antigen testing technologies is available in dozens of languages. Download the forms.

      Peruse the L2R Toolbox for additional implementation guides, forms, one-pagers, and more.

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      L2R Impact Fund

      Equitable engagement in COVID-19 Services

      The L2R Impact Fund supports new and existing programs that increase equitable engagement in COVID-19 testing and vaccination services for priority K-12 populations.

        • Who is eligible?
        • What type of programs are supported?
        • What are “priority K-12 populations?”
        • What is the application process like?

      Visit the L2R Impact Fund page for answers to these questions, a link to the application form, and a recording of the recent Informational Meeting and Q&A.

      Funding must be implemented by the end of June 2022! Don’t wait to get in touch with us about your proposal.

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      Extended Deadline

      COVID-19 FEMA Reimbursements

      Funding is available for schools to cover COVID-19 costs directly related to keeping schools safe and open. The deadline to apply for FEMA reimbursement has been extended to March 31, 2022.

      Eligible expenses include:

      • Air filtration system updates
      • CLIA waiver application fees
      • Temporary equipment for testing sites (i.e., tents)

      Download the Fact Sheet to learn more about this program and how to apply.


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      Omicron News

      Pediatric vaccine safety, omicron, and more.


      With nearly 5 million children getting COVID vaccines, no safety problems have been seen, CDC director says

      ABC News – December 10, 2021

      Crucially, the CDC hasn’t identified any concerns with the temporary heart inflammation known as myocarditis, a potential side effect of mRNA vaccines seen in rare circumstances in teenagers and young adults.


      Omicron variant surging rapidly in Washington state

      Seattle Times – December 14, 2021

      Researchers at the University of Washington found that 13% of 217 positive coronavirus case specimens collected Wednesday had the mutation. That was up from about 7% of samples they had tested from the day before, and 3% from the day before that — in a region that had its first identified cases only two weeks ago.

      What Has Omicron Changed?

      The New Yorker – December 12, 2021

      The damage a virus causes is the product of its virulence and its transmissibility: a small reduction in the former coupled with a sharp rise in the latter can be more devastating than the reverse.


      The WHO gives an update as Omicron variant spreads

      Reuters – December 14, 2021

      The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) gives an update on the COVID-19 pandemic as Omicron variant spreads.


      Omicron now makes up almost 3% of U.S. Covid cases, according to the CDC

      CNBC News  – December 14, 2021

      The CDC on Friday said one vaccinated person has been hospitalized with omicron, but no deaths have been reported among the 43 patients that have been followed up on.


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      Washington State Department of Health logo in white.

      The Washington State Department of Health and Heath Commons periodically reviews the contents of learntoreturn.org to keep information content of learntoreturn.org as up to date as possible during guidance changes and program expansion. The content of learntoreturn.org does not necessarily represent the official views of WA State Department of Health.

      Learn to Return is supported by the CDC ELC Reopening Schools through American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $229,356,843 with 100 percent funded by the ELC/CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ELC/CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit ELC Reopening Schools: Support for COVID-19 Screening Testing to Reopen and Keep Schools Operating Safely | DPEI | CDC.