March 20, 2024

ROSSEY Community Brief

Kenzie Lock

The ReOpening Schools Safely and Educating Youth (ROSSEY) project is a partnership between the Yakima School District (YSD), the Center for Community Health Promotion, and the University of Washington. The partnership began in 2020 to provide information about COVID-19 to help students continue to stay safe at school. We appreciate the partnership and support of the Community Advisory Board and the Yakima School District on this project. We are now three years into the project and would like to share what we have learned!

What happened in 2023?

Student Health Behaviors

In 2023, we asked parents about their students’ health behaviors related to stopping the spread of respiratory viruses like COVID-19. We found that among 688 students: 98% washed their hands with soap or used hand sanitizer, 65% covered their cough/sneeze when they were around others, and 61% wore a mask

Most students are still taking preventive steps to help keep themselves and their communities safe. The high percentage of students washing their hands and covering their cough/sneeze around others in 2022 remained nearly unchanged in 2023. However, the number of students wearing a mask decreased by 34% from the previous year. This decrease could be due to easing of mask mandates at schools and in the community. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends hand washing for 20 seconds with water and soap, or with a hand sanitizer that is 60% alcohol. Research has shown that doing so can: 

  • Hel prevent 20% of respiratory infections in children
  • Reduce school absences from flu or flu-like illness by 20-50%

Parent Beliefs About COVID-19 Vaccines

In 2023, many (57%) parents believe the following: it was important for their child to receive the COVID-19 vaccine; their families are safer when they receive a COVID-19 vaccine; and that the vaccine does a good job of preventing COVID-19. 58% of parents also believed the vaccine is safe. 

The percent of parents who agreed with each of the vaccine beliefs decreased slightly from 2022 to 2023. However, the percent decrease was small. We will continue to monitor the community’s sentiment towards the COVID-19 vaccines. 

The COVID-19 vaccines have been proven safe and effective in children 6 months or older. The Washington State Department of Health recommends vaccinating children 6 months or older to help:

  • reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection
  • reduce severity of the disease and death if children do get infected
  • reduce community spread of COVID-19
  • reduce school absence days due to illness

Parent Beliefs About COVID-19 Testing

In 2023, we asked parents about their beliefs around testing their students for COVID-19. We found that parents believed testing a child when sick helps to keep their child (79%), family (82%), and community (84%) safe. Responses remained nearly unchanged from 2022. Parents also believed that testing their child weekly when healthy helped to keep their child (72%), family (72%), and community (71%) safe. 

COVID-19 testing remains an important part of preventing the spread of COVID-19. Yakima School District is still offering COVID-19 testing from 1-4 pm on school days at the Health and Wellness Education Center. Testing is available for staff, students, and household family members of YSD staff or students.

This research was, in part, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) agreement number 1 OT2 HD107544-01. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the NIH. 

Suggested Citation: Pascoe, K.M., Bishop, S.K., Duran, M., Byers, J., Perez, G., Segal, N., Garza, L., Linde, S., Ibarra, G., Ramirez, M., Garrison, M., Shaw, P., Ko, L.K. (2023). Assessing Changes in Student Healthy Behaviors and Parent COVID- 19 Vaccination and Testing Beliefs. Seattle: Health Promotion Research Center. 

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