Vol 3, Issue 6

21 March 2022


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

Omicron Updates

Washington Trends
Vendors’ Corner

spring break


Swab & Jab

Omicron updates

What to Know About BA.2

The omicron subvariant, BA.2, is contributing to recent swells in new cases and hospitalizations in several countries in Europe and Asia. Experts are monitoring these trends closely to gauge what this could mean for the United States. 

Here’s what to know:

  • The BA.2 strain, a subvariant of omicron, is more transmissible but no more severe than the original omicron variant, BA.1, that caused the latest surge in Washington.
  • BA.2 is now the dominant variant worldwide. As of March 16, according to the WHO, BA.2 makes up 75% of COVID-19 cases globally.
  • In the United Kingdom, where vaccination rates are higher than those in the United States, BA.2 is responsible for over 50% of new COVID-19 cases. 
  • A combination of factors, not just increased circulation of BA.2, may be driving upticks in other countries. These factors include: 
    • The highly transmissible BA.2 variant
    • The lifting of many COVID-19 restrictions
    • Waning immunity from vaccination or prior infection
  • Since it was first detected in the United States in January 2022, the percentage of new cases attributed to BA.2 has increased slowly. 
  • As of March 12, the BA.2 variant makes up 23% of all COVID-19 cases in the United States. This is an increase of almost 10% compared to the previous two-week reporting cycle
  • In Washington state, as of March 16, BA.2 makes up a little over 9% of all cases.  

COVID-19 cases among children and youth in Washington State

A Spanish language edition of this weekly report is available. Lea el informe aquí.

Cases and hospitalizations among children and youth continue to decline sharply. Here are the key findings from the DOH report on cases among those ages 0-19 from February 20, 2022 to March 06, 2022.

  • There were a total of 2,698 cases reported for this period (143.1 cases per 100,000). 
  • The total number of cases (2,698) decreased by almost 75% compared with the previous two-week reporting period (10,606). 
  • The highest case rates were in Educational Service District (ESD) 114.
  • The highest case rates were among 4 to 10-year-olds (156.3 cases per 100,000).
  • There were 36 hospitalizations for this reporting period (1.9 hospitalizations per 100,000). This is down from 96 hospitalizations over the reporting period February 6 to February 20, 2022.
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Washington Trends

Vaccination rates in school-aged kids

As of March 12, according to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), vaccination rates in children ages 5 to 11 are lagging behind other school-aged populations. Here are the most recent figures:

Ages 16-17:

  • 67.3% initiated vaccination
  • 61.7% fully vaccinated
  • 42.5% received a booster 

Ages 12-15:

  • 59.5% initiated vaccination
  • 54.2% fully vaccinated
  • 38.2% received a booster 

Ages 5-11:

  • 36% initiated vaccination
  • 30.9% fully vaccinated
  • This age group is not yet eligible for booster shots.
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Vendors’ Corner

New iHealth video!

Symbols, illustrations, and step-by-step visual instructions make this new video appropriate for anyone regardless of their preferred language or current literacy level. 

Watch the video here and share with your school communities.

School-Based Vaccination Events
In-person translation and interpretation services are now available!
Vaccination rates among school aged kids are lagging behind, especially in younger children ages 5-11. Schools can help drive vaccination uptake in the community, providing equal access for families, and safeguarding in-person learning and extracurriculars for students and staff. 

It’s never been easier to host an event! Our DOH-approved vendors provide:

  • Online registration and parental consent forms in English and Spanish
  • In-person translation and interpretation services for onsite vaccination events
  • Management of logistics including ordering of vaccines, storage, and handling
  • Specialized onsite staff for vaccination administration, support, and clinical monitoring 
  • Reporting to the Washington State Immunization Information System (WA IIS)

Reach out to your L2R Program Manager today to schedule an event. 

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L2R Labor Support Fund

Expanded roles for testing staff

Many districts participating in the L2R Labor Support program are experiencing a decrease in testing demand as COVID-19 case rates decline around the state. Some districts have asked if staff paid out of this fund can engage in other COVID-19 mitigation strategies during this period of decreased testing demand.

The answer is yes

If the district continues to offer COVID-19 testing to students and staff, and if testing and testing-related work continue to be a primary intent of day-to-day duties for testing staff, they can engage in other COVID-19 mitigation strategies and activities during periods of low testing demand.

Reach out to your L2R Program Manager to learn more. Requests for support may be backdated to January 1, 2022.

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Prepare for Spring Break

After two years of the pandemic and unprecedented stress to students and staff, no one deserves Spring Break more than Washington school communities. But how do we safeguard against increased transmission once students return to the classroom after break?

Spring Break means increased social activity, travel, mingling indoors and outdoors, and is arriving just as we relax many precautions such as the indoor mask mandate. As we see in a growing number of countries, this combination of factors can create an uptick in cases, especially as the BA.2 subvariant continues to circulate. 

Here are some ideas to consider as students and staff return from Spring Break to help guard against increased transmission in schools:

  • Send students and staff home with take-home rapid antigen tests before they leave for spring break.
    • Email/text families and staff (set automated reminders) over the break to remind them to test within 24 hours of returning to school. Include guidance on isolation requirements when testing positive.
    • Work with your ESD Coordinator to procure the necessary inventory of take-home tests.
  • Empower families and staff to use take-home rapid antigen tests at home before returning to school after Spring Break.
    • Email/text families and staff (set automated reminders) before Spring Break and over the break to remind them to test within 24 hours of returning to school. Include guidance on isolation requirements when testing positive. 
    • Encourage families to order take-home tests free-of-charge through the DOH Say Yes! COVID Test program a week before Spring Break starts. (Families can now order up to ten tests per household!)
  • Organize a back-to-school testing event.
    • Contact your L2R Program Manager to discuss options for testing events.

Reach out to your L2R Program Manager to discuss how best to prepare for a return to the classroom after Spring Break.

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covid-19 News

What rising Covid-19 infections in the UK and Europe could mean for the US

CNN – March 15, 2022

In the UK, 86% of eligible people are fully vaccinated, and 67% are boosted, compared with 69% of those eligible vaccinated and 50% boosted in the US.


Two years ago schools shut down around the world. These are the biggest impacts

NPR – March 15, 2022

In New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, schools were closed for a few months, and student learning recovered to its previous trajectory after two full school years – and then improved from there. Post-COVID recovery could take even longer.

Washington health leaders look to prepare for possible next wave in COVID-19 pandemic

King – March 16, 2022

The prevention element looks to address ongoing outreach through things like vaccine caravans and clinics to close vaccine equity gaps and maintain the high rates of vaccination across the state. It also involves maintaining robust testing operations so that residents can stay as informed as possible about their own health.

Should parents be worried about vaccine effectiveness for 5- to 11-year-olds? An expert weighs in

CNN – March 15, 2022

“First, I want to urge everyone to keep these data in perspective. The vaccines in younger children still appear to protect against severe illness, and that’s the most important reason we get vaccinated: to prevent hospitalization and death,” Dr. Leana Wen, emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.


Pfizer-BioNTech seek U.S. OK for second COVID booster for 65 and older

Reuters – March 15, 2022 

Israel in late January said a fourth dose doubled protection against infection and increased protection against severe disease by 3 to 5 times compared to those who had received three shots, based on health ministry data.

What We Can Learn From America's Most Recent COVID-19 Vaccine Converts

Time  – March 16, 2022

One of the greatest predictors of a person’s vaccination status is whether those they love and trust are vaccinated. More than 90% of people who report having many vaccinated friends and family also say they are vaccinated, themselves. But among people who only have a few vaccinated family and friends, the rate drops to 55%, according to TIME’s analysis.

A covid surge in Western Europe has U.S. bracing for another wave

The Washington Post – March 16, 2022 

In all, about a dozen nations are seeing spikes in coronavirus infections caused by BA.2, a cousin of the BA.1 form of the virus that tore through the United States over the past three months.


Do masks in school affect kids' speech and social skills?

NPR – March 15, 2022 

Amid the debate, a small but growing body of research is offering hints that masks do not have a significant impact on speech or social skills.

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The Gang Teaches Us About Viruses!

You can find and download more Swab and Jab activity pages on the L2R Toolbox!