Return to Headlines

Coronavirus Safety Information


The Science of Masks

Washington State Department of Health


Jun 23 · 3 min read

Today, the Secretary of Health announced a statewide public health order requiring us to wear masks in public. So, how much do we really know about how much a cloth face covering can protect us from COVID-19? So much more than before!


Prior to this pandemic, there wasn’t a whole lot of research going on into the benefit of wearing cloth face coverings to prevent COVID-19, which, of course, we didn’t even know about until six months ago. Some researchers compared countries that promoted face masks as part of their early response to COVID-19 to countries, like the US, that did not. The countries that promoted face masks ended up with fewer cases than the countries that did not. Research is continuing, and we’re still learning more, but here’s what the science is telling us now:

  • COVID-19 be spread by people who do not know they have it (yet).
  • Having COVID-19 and not having any symptoms feels the same as feeling “healthy” or “normal.” The difference is, with COVID-19, you are contagious.
  • The virus that causes COVID-19 is principally spread by droplets that you exhale when you are normally breathing, as well as when you talking, singing, coughing or sneezing. These droplets can float in the air and infect people who are near you.
  • These droplets are more likely to reach other people if you are in an indoor space with poor ventilation, and within six feet of other people.
  • A cloth face covering helps you keep your breath, and those droplets, to yourself. You are even more likely to keep all those droplets to yourself if you are also standing six feet away from other people. And it works even better if the people around you are also wearing cloth face coverings.
  • Researchersreviewed the scientific literature looking at the effectiveness of surgical masks and cloth face coverings. They found that the masks and cloth face coverings were effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19 — if we wear them! The biggest limitation to their effectiveness was inconsistent mask use.

This means that people who feel healthy need to wear a cloth face covering in public places — especially indoors — and stay at least six feet away from other people.

And, no, wearing a cloth face covering is not at all likely to restrict your oxygen or make you breathe too much carbon dioxide or affect your immune system. If you feel dizzy or light headed, or have trouble breathing, sit down and remove your mask. If it continues, call 911.

Practice compassion. “Everyone shall wear a mask. Those who are not doing so are not showing their independence — they are only showing their indifference for the lives of others.” Sydney Morning Herald, February 3, 1919. Even before the modern research, people understood that wearing a mask is an act of compassion for others.

More information

Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

Information in this blog changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact our call center at
1–800–525–0127. Hours: 6 am-10 pm, seven days a week.

Department of Health call center: 1–800–525–0127, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m, seven days a week.

Please check our website for the most up-to-date info on Washington’s response to COVID-19 at



Myths and Facts about Cloth Face Coverings

Washington State Department of Health


Jun 24 · 4 min read

The Secretary of Health announced a public health order requiring us to wear face coverings in public. This requirement starts on Friday, June 26. The emerging science on face coverings indicates that they are effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19 if we wear them consistently. And “consistently” means that all of us — even if we feel healthy — need to wear a cloth face covering in public places.



We’re going to be covering our faces for a while. Gather up the good masks and make sure they are clean or put them in the washing machine. Throw away the ones that fall off your face or itch or you otherwise don’t like. Remember, in a pinch, a couple layers of any cloth will do. Now let’s sort through some myths and facts about cloth face coverings:

Myth: I feel great! I don’t need to wear a mask.

Fact: Do you know how it feels to have COVID-19 and not have any symptoms? It feels great! Having COVID-19 and having no symptoms feels the same as feeling “healthy” or “normal.” The difference is, with COVID-19, you feel great and can make other people very sick. The decision to wear a cloth face covering isn’t about how well you might feel — it’s about all of us working together to keep the whole community healthy.

Myth: If we wear masks, we don’t have to worry about social distance anymore!

Fact: We are wearing cloth face coverings to help us keep our breath, and the potentially infections droplets it contains, to ourselves. Face coverings are just one way to do that, and they work even better if you are also standing six feet away from other people. Physical distancing, hand washing, staying home if we are sick, and getting tested for COVID-19 even if we have just mild symptoms are all important basic things we still need to do, even if we cover our faces.

Myth: If you wear a mask for too long your oxygen levels will go down/you’ll breathe too much carbon dioxide.

Fact: Cloth face coverings are by no means air tight. Your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels will be fine. Your face covering may feel irritatingly hard to breathe through, though. You are most likely getting enough air, but switch to a different face covering if you find the one you are using physically hard to breathe through. If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, or have trouble breathing, sit down and remove your face covering. If it continues, call 911.

Myth: Wearing a mask can weaken your immune system.

Fact: The idea behind this myth is more or less that the mask will insulate you from all germs, and your immune system will get used to not having any germs to fight and get weaker. That’s not exactly how immune systems work, and it’s definitely not how masks work. A cloth face covering does a better job at helping you keep your germs to yourself than it does protecting you from other people’s germs. (Remember? My mask protects you. Your mask protects me.) We do think that wearing a mask will probably protect you a little bit from some respiratory germs that you might otherwise breathe in, but not any of the germs you get exposed to by eating or drinking or petting the dog, or playing outside, or going to the bathroom. Wear the mask. You will still get exposed to plenty of germs, and your immune system will be fine.

Myth: Wearing a mask can cause bacterial lung infections.

Fact: Your body has lots of ways to protect you if you breathe in bacteria, and there is no evidence that wearing a mask can make you sick. You could get a skin irritation or rash, so it’s certainly a good idea to keep your face covering clean and dry, and keep your face clean and well moisturized. If you have found a particular face covering irritating, consider whether you may react to the soap you used to wash it or the particular type of fabric. To prevent skin irritations or acne, you may want to avoid wearing makeup underneath your mask. Switch to a different face covering if the one you are wearing gets damp.

Get your information from credible sources like these:

Practice compassion. We cover our faces to protect other people. We could still have COVID-19 even if we feel well. It’s our responsibility to protect others from what we don’t know is in our breath.

More information

Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

Information in this blog changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact our call center at
1–800–525–0127. Hours: 6 am-10 pm, seven days a week.

Department of Health call center: 1–800–525–0127, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m, seven days a week.

Please check our website for the most up-to-date info on Washington’s response to COVID-19 at

Public Health Connection


From the Washington State Department of Health




Washington State Department of Health

Protecting and improving the health of people in Washington State.

Public Health Connection

From the Washington State Department of Health


Dear Families,


Because COVID-19 closed our schools, your children may be eligible for food assistance, called Pandemic EBT (P-EBT): Emergency School Meals Program.

P-EBT provides families with funds to make up for the cost of meals while school was closed. This benefit is for Washington children in grades k-12 who receive free or reduced-price school meals. These benefits will be on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which is used like a debit card to buy groceries.

If your family has lost income since schools closed, you may be eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.

Every eligible child may receive up to a maximum of $399 of P-EBTImmigration status does not matter for P-EBT – it is not Basic Food and will not count in a public charge test. P-EBT is intended to replace meals missed while schools closed due to COVID-19. Children are allowed to get free meals from school and community sites and get P-EBT at the same time – they are separate programs.

If your family does not receive Basic Food, you must apply for P-EBT if you want to receive the funds. The application will be open by June 30. There are two ways to apply:

  • Go to:, or
  • Call DSHS at 877-501-2233

See the attached flyer for more information about P-EBT.

We want to make sure all of our students stay healthy and grow strong.


Washtucna School District

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement   
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.


Flyer on PEBT 


Emergency School Meal

It's Never too Late to Apply

COVID 19 Letter






March 13, 2020

Dear Parent(s)/Guardian(s),

 Earlier this morning the school district superintendents and other school leaders in our ESD101 region met together to discuss a variety of issues related to COVID-19 and its impact in our state, nation and the world.  We also, of course, discussed its impact on, and implications for, K-12 education in Washington state.

As you are well aware, earlier this week our Governor, Jay Inslee, announced a proclamation that required the closure of all school districts in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties – to take effect as of midnight on Monday, March 16 and continuing through at least midnight on Friday, April 24.

 Quickly on the heels of that proclamation, school districts in numerous other counties in the state (Skagit, Whatcom, Clark, Thurston) reached the same decision to close.  These decisions are made out of an abundance of caution, and are based on scientific recommendations that indicate the reduction of social interactions – or said another way, increasing social distancing – can ultimately have a beneficial impact on slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

 During the time the superintendents and leaders were together, we had communication with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and, through OSPI, with the Governor’s office.  With the number of counties in which school districts are now set to close – which, combined, include almost 70% of Washington’s K-12 enrollment – the Governor is being pressured to do what a neighboring state has done, which is to close ALL school districts in the state.

 As of the time I am sharing this with you, I do not have specific details as to when that decision might be finalized nor when it will go into effect, but you deserve to be aware of this strong possibility.  When and if our school district is required to close (the authority to make such broad decisions rests with both the Governor’s emergency powers and with the local regional health district), we will work closely with all of you as we chart a path forward.

 As superintendents, we did request that we be given some amount of lead time to prepare for an extended closure, and we are committed to working together to the extent possible to determine how we can best attend to the nutritional needs of students; to child care needs for students and families who will need that; and whether we will be able to provide any continued educational opportunities in a way that is equitable for all the students and families we serve.

 As COVID-19 evolves, it affects all of us.  We are all learning about it, and we appreciate that we all come together to do that in collaborative and respectful ways – respecting that disruptions that may occur in the short term will have a beneficial effect in the longer term – for everyone. I will assuredly keep you updated with all relevant information and, while I recognize that many questions will occur, we are committed to addressing each of those to the best of our ability and resources.

 In advance, thank you for always giving one another grace – and especially for doing so during an unprecedented challenge such as this public health issue.


Vance Alan Wing




                       108 W Main Ritzville, WA  99169   Phone: (509)659-3315

              425 E Main-Suite 700, Othello, WA 99344 Phone: (509) 488-2031



Public Health Recommendations for COVID-19

March 12, 2020

At least 12 of Washington State’s 39 counties are now reporting COVID-19 cases, including nearby Grant County. There is significant spread in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. As of 10 a.m. on March 12 there have been 29 deaths. There are almost certainly cases already in our communities, though they may be mild or non-symptomatic cases that are invisible yet still able to infect others. We do not yet have lab-confirmed cases in Adams County.

Almost all of us will get through this just fine, but there will be a significant number of deaths among the elderly and other high risk groups. The time to get serious about every available preventive measure is right now, today. Failure to do so will result in more death among neighbors and relatives, even though most of us will come through OK. To save as many precious lives as we can, WE NEED EACH OTHER.

On March 11, 2020, Governor Inslee issued a Proclamation to minimize COVID-19 (Coronavirus) exposure, particularly in counties hit hardest by the virus.  Starting March 11, 2020, events that take place in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties with more than 250 people are prohibited by the state. This order applies to gathering for social, spiritual, and recreational activities.  This includes but is not limited to: community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based, or sporting events; parades; concerts; festivals; conventions; fundraisers and similar activities.

“This is an unprecedented public health situation and we can’t wait until we’re in the middle of it to slow it down. We’ve got to get ahead of the curve. One main defense is to reduce the interaction of people in our lives.” – Governor Inslee


Today, Adams County Health Department is encouraging residents of our county to voluntarily follow these urgent recommendations to minimize exposure to COVID-19 for our residents and to lessen the impact it has on our communities.


  • People over age 60, those with major chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease or respiratory problems, and pregnant women are urged to stay home as much as possible in the coming weeks to minimize exposure to the


  • Your local health department firmly urges the cancellation of in-person group events of any size, and especially the larger ones with over 20 participants, for the foreseeable


  • If you absolutely must hold a group event of any size, contrary to the advice of public health experts everywhere, do all you can to minimize participation by high risk people and minimize contact among participants by maintaining a separation of at least 6 feet among them so far as People with fever of 100.4 degrees or higher and with a cough should be asked to stay home.


  • Anyone staying home from work, cancelling events, or modifying business operations to minimize this epidemic is doing their civic duty and should be sustained as well as possible by the rest of us. Employers should consider continued compensation when possible, along with all other measures to sustain those temporarily laid off. We urge all community groups – including social service organizations, faith-based organizations, schools and PTOs, and others – to take the initiative right now to organize efforts to sustain high risk and laid-off people with whom you are associated, with food and household supplies. Financial institutions should implement all possible policies easing debt, mortgage deadlines, and related obligations for the duration of this pandemic.


We have carefully weighed the risks and benefits of this recommendation. These actions are the most effective tools we have available to help prevent the spread of the virus in our communities and protect our vulnerable residents.


If you are planning an event or gathering, please consider the following alternatives:

  • Utilize available technology options (e.g. livestreaming, virtual meetings), or
  • Cancel or postpone the event until these recommendations have been lifted

If you have plans to attend an upcoming event or gathering, we encourage you not attend to protect yourself, your family, and the people you come in contact with on a daily basis.

Any size gathering that does occur should ensure the following:

  • Older adults and individuals with chronic medical conditions are strongly encouraged not to attend
  • Recommendations for social distancing and limiting close contact are met
  • Employees or volunteers leading an event are screened for symptoms each day
  • Proper hand washing, sanitation, and cleaning is readily available
  • Environmental cleaning guidelines are followed (e.g., clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily or more frequently)


There is a lot of speculation about school closures. Experts at our State Department of Health are working with local and national experts along with CDC to use the best available models to predict the many effects and problems from school closures. One thing that is clear is that closures are less effective when taken too early in an outbreak, and when delayed until it peaks.

That is why school closures have not been widely ordered by public officials so far. We may get there, but we are not there yet. Any school officials who make the decision to close in the meantime, after considering the unique circumstances of each school district, should be supported for doing everything possible to help protect our community. However, schools should take steps now to prepare for the possibility of prolonged mandatory closures. 

In particular, schools should plan for how to continue to provide non-educational supports for their students such as providing food, developmental disability supports, and school-based healthcare.


Collective action can save lives

We all have people in our lives who are high-risk. We all are one mishap away from needing access to a functioning hospital. We all have a lot at stake.

Giving up social events will not be easy, and the impacts on businesses and jobs may be significant. But this is our best chance to save lives. It is in support of the most vulnerable in our community, and a protection for everyone.

The more united we can be in preventing the spread – be in this together – the greater the benefit for the whole community.

Community Wide Measures


This is becoming a community crisis and we are all in it together. Please do your part, because it will make a difference in the number of cases and deaths we ultimately have in our communities. Anything we can do to delay cases will also help our health care providers care for us by making it more feasible to manage the severe demands they will face.


There are five basic community-wide actions that can be taken by everyone to prevent disease spread. They should be done now – as broadly and consistently as possible. These interventions include:


  • Increase handwashing and use of alcohol-based sanitizer
  • Improved respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette
  • Enhanced social distancing (keep at least 6 feet distance between yourself and others)
  • Frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch and common surfaces
  • Stay home when you are sick and stay away from others who are sick

COVID-19 Resources:


(509) 488-2031 OR (509) 659-3315




March 7, 2020

Vance Wing


Washtucna Schools

Re:  Caronavirus/Flu-Influenza

Dear Parents:

At a meeting of the Whitman County Superintendents this past week with the Whitman County Health Department officials, we were asked to make changes to our practice of allowing our district students to return to school after 24 hours of being “fever free”.  “Fever free” is the time from when the fever breaks and 24 hours after that time frame.

The health officials would now like us to change that time frame to 72 hours after the fever breaks or the student is “Fever Free”.   We will begin following the 72 hour time frame beginning Tuesday, March 10th, or tomorrow.

Washtucna School District is currently addressing sanitizing our school by adding some custodial help to help in the sanitizing of areas, equipment and frequently touched facility items.  We’ve also been able to place new sanitizer dispensers in the elementary and secondary hallways as well as the cafeteria.

Our teaching and support staff have been more active in assuring that their students as well as themselves, have been washing their hands regularly for an extended period of time as well as cleaning/sanitizing desks and sink areas frequently throughout the day.

If you have any questions, please contact us at your convenience.

Thank you for all you do for our students;)

Mr. Wing

Vance Alan Wing





COVID Share Facts

School Closure