Last updated September 22, 2021, 1:45 p.m.

The Bellevue School District has established closure protocols in accordance with guidelines from the Washington State Department of Health (PDF). When a positive case of COVID-19 is discovered in the school setting, BSD alerts Public Health – Seattle & King County and trained district staff members conduct contact tracing.

Members of the school learning community will be notified when someone who tested positive for COVID-19 was in person in a school setting during their infectious period.

Scroll down to learn more about:

  • Quarantine protocols
  • Class quarantine and school closure protocols
  • Instruction during quarantine
  • What is an ‘outbreak’ of COVID-19
  • Contact tracing

Quarantine Protocols:

Per current protocols from Public Health – Seattle & King County, fully vaccinated employees and students do not need to quarantine if they were found to be in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Public Health recommends that fully-vaccinated people who are close contacts:

  • Get tested for COVID-19 no sooner than three days after their exposure.
  • Wear a face covering in all indoor public spaces for 14 days after their exposure.
  • Monitor themselves for symptoms for the full 14 days – even if they test negative.
  • Get tested if they develop symptoms.

Elementary

If a person tests positive for COVID-19 in the school building, trained staff will lead contact tracing. All close contacts of someone who tests positive with COVID-19 will be informed and sent home to quarantine. Quarantine should last for 14 days after the last close contact with the COVID-19 positive person. This is the safest option. Monitor for symptoms during this time, and if any COVID-19 symptoms develop during the 14 days, get tested.

  • If 14 days is not possible, quarantine can last for 10 days after the last close contact, without additional testing required. However, if any COVID-19 symptoms develop during the 10 days, remain in quarantine the full 14 days and get tested. Continue monitoring for symptoms until day 14.
  • Quarantine can end after 7 full days beginning after the last close contact if no symptoms have developed and after receiving a negative test result. The test should occur no sooner than 48 hours (2 days) before ending quarantine. Continue monitoring for symptoms until day 14.

Secondary

If a person tests positive for COVID-19 in the school building, trained staff will lead contact tracing. All close contacts of someone who tests positive with COVID-19 will be informed and sent home to quarantine. Quarantine should last for 14 days after the last close contact with the COVID-19 positive person. This is the safest option. Monitor for symptoms during this time, and if any COVID-19 symptoms develop during the 14 days, get tested.

  • If 14 days is not possible, quarantine can last for 10 days after the last close contact, without additional testing required. However, if any COVID-19 symptoms develop during the 10 days, remain in quarantine the full 14 days and get tested. Continue monitoring for symptoms until day 14.
  • Quarantine can end after 7 full days beginning after the last close contact if no symptoms have developed and after receiving a negative test result. The test should occur no sooner than 48 hours (2 days) before ending quarantine. Continue monitoring for symptoms until day 14.

Class Quarantine and School Closure Protocols:

The BSD COVID-19 Coordinator will consult with Public Health – Seattle & King County to determine when classes or schools need to close for quarantine, using guidance from the Washington State Department of Health (PDF). They will review data including number of outbreaks in the school, the number of cases in the building, if the number of cases is increasing quickly, etc.

Instruction During Quarantine

Per DOH requirements, schools should “prepare for instructing students who are excluded from school due to illness and quarantine.” Students may be in quarantine for a few days to multiple weeks, depending on the circumstance. Isolation and quarantine guidelines for COVID-19 can be found above.

How will Bellevue School District provide instruction during quarantine?

Bellevue School District will follow existing practices to provide instruction and services for these individuals which may include, but is not limited to:

  • Small group/personalized virtual instruction
  • Independent learning and practice
  • Concurrent and/or recorded instruction

Appropriate supports will be provided as necessary.

Who will provide instruction?

Educators should provide meaningful instruction and connection with the educator and classmates. Educators should establish a clear schedule for students, including:

  • The times that students should be joining class, small groups, or checking in with the educator via Teams
  • Due dates for independent work completion and/or viewing recorded lessons
  • Times and dates students can expect recordings or materials to be posted to Teams/OneNote

What modes of instruction will be offered?

The educator should design the quarantine instruction based on the needs of the student. The educator may choose to use multiple modes of instruction. Five possible modes of instruction for students in quarantine include:

  • Recorded Lessons: pre-recorded lessons or recording in-class lessons and sending to the student later in the day
  • Independent Work: assigned work for the student to complete independently
  • Virtual/Concurrent Whole Group:
    • Student in quarantine joins the whole class via Teams
    • All students, both in-person and virtual, log into Teams simultaneously (which would support small groups/partner work between in-person and virtual students)
    • Educator displays Teams meeting on a Smart Board so students can see each other
  • Virtual/Concurrent Small Groups: student(s) in quarantine participate in virtual/concurrent small group instruction
    • Students in quarantine join a small group of in-person students live during class time via Teams
    • Multiple students in quarantine could be their own small group and meet with the educator while the in-person students are doing independent or small group work
  • Virtual Individual Instruction: educator meets one-on-one with a student who is in quarantine during a time that works for both the educator and the student/family

What is an ‘outbreak’ of COVID-19?

An outbreak is defined by the Washington State Department of Health (PDF) as when:

  • There are two or more COVID-19 cases among students or staff.
  • The cases have a symptom onset or positive test result within a 14-day period of each other.
  • The cases are epidemiologically linked.
  • The cases do not share a household.
  • The cases are not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during the investigation.

Contact Tracing

BSD implements contact tracing as one of the mitigating measures required by the Washington State Department of Health (WADOH) and Public Health – Seattle & King County in order to lower the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and community.

Our comprehensive contact tracing protocol is based on a seven-hour Johns Hopkins training program, weekly consultation with Public Health – Seattle & King County and follows the requirements of both WADOH and Public Health Seattle & King County. It is very rigorous and takes up to several days to complete in its entirety.

When a positive case of COVID-19 is discovered in the school setting, trained BSD staff will conduct contact tracing within the school community.

How do staff conduct contact tracing?

Contact tracing within BSD involves speaking with the person who tested positive for COVID-19 about who they were in contact with while they were in our buildings or participating in in-person activities during their infectious period. For students who test positive who are unable to describe who they were in contact with, contact tracers work with school staff who supervise the student to determine close contacts.

Contact tracers will call all BSD staff and students who were close contacts to let them know they were in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, and advise them to quarantine at home and away from others.

BSD staff will make every effort to get in touch with all close contacts within 48-72 hours after we are alerted there was a positive case of COVID. By answering the phone when we call, you can help us conduct contact tracing more quickly.

What is the step-by-step contact tracing process?

When BSD is alerted that there is a report of a positive case of COVID-19 in its trained staff:

  1. Determine the onset of symptoms to determine the infectious period. Usually, this conversation happens with a parent/guardian if the person who tested positive is a student.
  2. Collect information from the adult who tests positive, or a parent/guardian if the person who tests positive is a student, about contacts the person had with friends or other people who work or learn in the district while the person was infectious and gather any information they can share with us about the person’s school day and habits.
  3. Reach out to the classroom teacher [if the person is a student] and do a minute-by-minute review of the school day to determine where the person was at any given time during each day they were in their infectious period.
  4. Collaborate with the teacher and principal to determine who else came into the classroom to support, or where else the person who tested positive went in the school during the day.
    1. This includes any special services (special education, ELL, Title/LAP, etc.), recess, snack, lunch, small group work and specialist interactions.
    2. We interview the employees who would have worked with or supervised the person in these settings to determine close contacts, by conducting a minute-by-minute review of these blocks of time.
    3. Sometimes, we review recess video to determine who the person interacted with outside.
    4. If the person who tested positive is a bus rider, we may interview the bus driver and can review bus video to determine who they sat with. Student bus tags help us find out how long each student was on the bus to and from school.
  5. Call the close contacts individually to provide guidance and next steps. The contact tracer will follow up with an email reviewing the information shared over the phone.
  6. Send a letter to the school community to let them know there was a case in the building, that the person was in the building during their infectious period, and that contact tracing has been completed.

How does BSD know when someone tests positive for COVID-19?

There are a few different ways we may find out that someone tested positive for COVID-19:

  • If it is a student:
    • The family may contact the attendance office to let them know their student will be missing school due to testing positive.
    • The student may email their teacher to let them know they are sick at home with COVID.
    • The student or family may email the school nurse or principal.
    • Public Health may contact our district COVID-19 coordinator to let them know they found someone who tested positive during their community contact tracing.
  • If it is an employee:
    • An employee may report their illness to their supervisor.
    • Public Health may contact our district COVID-19 coordinator to let them know they found someone who tested positive during their community contact tracing.

The person who is alerted that someone tested positive then reaches out to either the school nurse, or our district contact tracing team.

Who do we notify when someone tests positive for COVID-19?

Members of the school learning community will be notified when someone who tested positive for COVID-19 was in person in a school setting during their infectious period following the completion of the contact tracing process. It is important to protect the confidentiality of the personal health information of our students and employees. For this reason, we cannot provide specifics about who the person who tested positive is in order to protect their individual health and privacy rights.

We update the COVID-19 Schools Dashboard at least weekly with the number of COVID-19 infections and close contacts in each school location over the last 14 days.

BSD also alerts Public Health – Seattle & King County about each positive case and close contact. Our staff discusses the contact tracing, mitigating measures, and reviews decision-making with the public health team. Public Health – Seattle & King County contact tracers also contact the BSD COVID-19 Coordinator when they find a case of COVID in our school community who was participating in in-person learning or activities so we can conduct contact tracing in the school.

For more information about contact tracing, please visit the Public Health – Seattle & King County contact tracing website.

What does “close contact” mean?

Per the Washington State Department of Health (PDF): Generally, a close contact is someone who was within six feet of a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 cumulative minutes over a 24-hour period during the period of time when the person with COVID-19 was infectious. The infectious period of someone with COVID-19 starts two days before the onset of symptoms or is estimated as two days before the positive test collection date if someone with COVID-19 is asymptomatic. This definition applies regardless of whether the case or contact was wearing a mask. If identified as a close contact, a person may need to quarantine.

  • In a K-12 indoor classroom, the close contact definition excludes students who were at least three feet away from an infected student when (a) both students were wearing face coverings/masks and (b) other prevention strategies were in place. This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting.
  • For K-12 students in settings outside the classroom, close contact is defined as being within six feet from an infected person for at least cumulative 15 minutes over a 24-hour period during the period of time when the person with COVID-19 was infectious.
  • In adults, close contact is defined as being within six feet from an infected person for at least 15 cumulative minutes over a 24-hour period during the period of time when the person with COVID-19 was infectious.

The definition of a close contact may vary in some situations (e.g., less time spent in close proximity to an unmasked person who is coughing, direct cough/sneeze spray, or other contact that is more intense like sharing drinks, eating utensils, etc.). The ultimate determination of close contact is made by the local health jurisdiction during its investigation; it may delegate this determination if appropriate.

What is the “infectious period?”

The infectious period (or ‘contagious period’) starts two days before the start of symptoms, or two days before a positive test for someone who does not have symptoms. It lasts until 10 days after the start of symptoms, or 10 days after the positive test for someone who does not have symptoms.

What can I do?

It is important for everyone to answer the call if BSD staff reach out while conducting the contact tracing.


The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.