LOCAL NEWS

‘Outdoors is safer than indoors’ for school lunch, says local health officer

Aug 27, 2021, 2:58 PM | Updated: 3:04 pm
school lunch...
A masked student walks past the cafeteria door after eating a socially distanced lunch at Medora Elementary School on March 17, 2021, in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

Students in King County — and across Washington — are starting to return to school in the coming days and weeks. With the more contagious delta variant widespread in the community, King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin warns that return will be more challenging than ever.

Virologist says it’s ‘not abusive or cruel’ for kids to wear masks at school

Dr. Duchin emphasized the importance of a layered approach with multiple precautions to reduce the risk of transmission at schools.

“First and foremost, the layered approach starts with vaccination. Everyone 12 and older should get vaccinated — students who are 12 and older, school faculty, staff, and family members. Community members as well can do their part in protecting our children by getting vaccinated,” he said.

Duchin also mentioned that he’s hopeful a vaccine for children ages 5-11 could be available by the end of the year, and for younger children after that, “but that is not established at this point.”

For school and child care facilities, the state Department of Health has developed requirements to help reduce the risk for COVID-19 transmission, which includes maintaining 3 feet of distance or more when possible and maximizing that distance during high-risk activities like meals, singing, and sports.

“The state reminds us that when it is not possible to maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance in classrooms, it is essential that schools layer additional prevention strategies to reduce the risk of disease transmission. This includes things like improving ventilation — and that is critical — and conducting screening testing of students and staff to identify infections early on before spread occurs,” Duchin said.

Additionally, in Washington, all students and staff 5 years and older are required to wear a mask and stay as distanced as possible.

But there’s one question a lot of parents have been concerned about: What happens at lunch?

Dr. Duchin says “outdoors is safer than indoors.”

“Whenever possible, when students are unmasked, they should be outdoors. Or if that’s absolutely not possible, they should be in an indoor location, adequately distanced, with appropriate ventilation measures in place or air filtration to maximally reduce that risk,” he said.

Seattle parents push for schools to move student lunches outdoors

As far as mandates, Duchin says the governor and the state develop the requirements for schools and he is not aware that they’re considering a mandate for outdoor lunch or eating.

“But it is a recommendation,” he added.

Aside from ensuring that high-risk activities, like school lunch, are outdoors when possible, distancing is in place, indoor air quality is improved, and kids have a quality mask, it’s also hopefully quick.

“If there’s an option for the child to eat quickly and get out to another place that’s considered to be safer or put the mask back on quickly afterward, I think that would be a potential option as well,” Duchin noted.

Public Health — Seattle & King County offers more back-to-school guidance and information on the best masks for children here.

Local News

Sammamish...
MyNorthwest Staff

Sammamish scores top spot on list of best small US cities to live in

A new list has crowned Sammamish, Washington, the nation's best small city to live in, marking the latest in a string of recent accolades.
13 hours ago
world cup...
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

Seattle among cities competing for hosting duties in 2026 World Cup

Starting Thursday, World Cup officials will tour cities across the United States, including Seattle, to determine which venues will host games in 2026.
13 hours ago
Seattle fundraising...
Nick Bowman

Seattle mayoral race fundraising hits highest total in nearly two decades of available data

With just a few weeks to go until ballots are due, Seattle's two mayoral candidates have reached record fundraising heights.
13 hours ago
Seattle council debate...
MyNorthwest Staff

Seattle council candidates get chance to question each other in Wednesday debate

Candidates for Seattle's Position 9 City Council seat squared off in a debate hosted by Rainier Avenue Radio and Converge Media on Wednesday.
13 hours ago
Seattle vaccine mandate, firefighters...
Nick Bowman

Seattle firefighter union reports 5 members facing termination over vaccine mandate

A statement from the Seattle Fire Fighters Union Local 27 indicates that five of its members are facing termination as a result of the vaccine mandate.
13 hours ago
Snohomish mosque...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Police investigating hateful act at Snohomish County mosque

A 50-year-old man has been arrested and another person is still at large after Mountlake Terrace Police said they made their way into a mosque and threw away religious artifacts.
13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
...
Comcast

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
‘Outdoors is safer than indoors’ for school lunch, says local health officer