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Why closing schools protects everybody’s health.

Director of Health Dr. Anthony Chen
by Anthony Chen03/12/2020 2:36 p.m.
Updated: 03/16/2020

On Thursday, Gov. Inslee announced schools in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties will close no later than March 17 for six weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Our top priority is to protect the health of every person and place in Pierce County. That includes you, your family and our most vulnerable residents. That is why we support the governor’s difficult decision.  

Time to act

COVID-19 transmission is widespread in our region. Decisive action is required. 

novel coronavirus infographic

“Our schools throughout Pierce County are amazing places and in many cases they are the absolute heart of a community,” said Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier.  

Viruses spread quickly and easily in places when people gather. It is important to use the right prevention measures at the right times. Halting large public gatherings was a good start. But schools, childcare facilities, workplaces and public buildings can become breeding grounds as well. 

Social distancing measures—like closing buildings—reduce opportunities for person-to-person transmission. That helps delay the spread. In turn, that can help our healthcare providers from becoming overwhelmed with ill people and ensure top-notch care for those who do get sick. 

We are here to support you

We know this is a challenging time. We feel it with you. We live here. We work here. Our children are in school with your children.  

“I believe that this decision was made with the utmost care for public health and safety in mind," said Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards. "At the same time, it will come with challenges for Tacoma’s children and families, childcare providers, and the businesses where these parents work.”

Our staff are working seven days a week to contain the spread of COVID-19 and help keep your family healthy. We are working closely with our partners to offer resources for you during this time. We will share more information soon. 

What you can do

You can continue to do your part by increasing social distance. Reduce interpersonal contact as much as you can. And continue to follow our basic guidance: 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. 
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, or the inside of your elbow. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Stay home when you are sick.

We will update regularly with guidance and resources.  You can also sign up for updates from our Your Reliable Source blog or on our social media channels

Turn to your local school district for updates on closures

  1. Updated: 03/19/2020
  2. Updated: 03/16/2020
  3. Updated: 03/13/2020
Director of Health Dr. Anthony Chen

by Anthony Chen

Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH, is the Director of Health at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and chief health strategist for Pierce County.


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