NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

COVID-19 Update: All Seattle Public Schools to be closed starting March 12th, 2020

What a busy news day! With so much chang­ing so fast, It’s already once again time for a anoth­er install­ment of of our spe­cial series COVID-19 Update, bring­ing you the lat­est devel­op­ments on the nov­el coro­n­avirus out­break that pub­lic health author­i­ties in the Pacif­ic North­west are work­ing dili­gent­ly to mit­i­gate.

Unlike some of the non­sense that is unfor­tu­nate­ly cir­cu­lat­ing on social media, all the infor­ma­tion you’ll find here is accu­rate and based on sound sci­ence.

A very short time ago, Seat­tle Pub­lic Schools announced it’s clos­ing down for two weeks in an effort to com­bat the nov­el coro­n­avirus. Said the dis­trict:

Dear Fam­i­lies:

Togeth­er, we are fac­ing an unprece­dent­ed health cri­sis in our com­mu­ni­ty. In our response to COVID-19, we must depend on the wis­dom of our health experts and elect­ed offi­cials and lean on the resolve of our strong com­mu­ni­ty.

We have been fol­low­ing the guid­ance of Pub­lic Health Seat­tle and King Coun­ty and imple­ment­ing pre­ven­tive and respon­sive strate­gies, but in light of Gov­er­nor Inslee’s request that all cit­i­zens prac­tice mea­sures to slow the spread of COVID-19, it is now time for the dis­trict to act swift­ly.

Start­ing Thurs­day, March 12th, Super­in­ten­dent Denise Juneau and the Seat­tle School Board will close Seat­tle Pub­lic Schools for a min­i­mum of 14 days as the Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) cur­rent­ly guides. This nec­es­sary action is an effec­tive way to dis­rupt wide­spread infec­tion.

Begin­ning Thurs­day, March 12, all school build­ing activ­i­ties includ­ing school day instruc­tion, child­care, health ser­vices, enrich­ment, etc. are can­celed until fur­ther notice. Wednes­day, March 11th, child­care and extend­ed day sup­ports will con­tin­ue as planned. We have an emer­gency food plan which will be put into place on Mon­day, March 16th. More infor­ma­tion will be pro­vid­ed by Fri­day, March 13th.

The deci­sion to close the dis­trict was extreme­ly dif­fi­cult. We know that clos­ing our schools will impact our most vul­ner­a­ble fam­i­lies and we rec­og­nize that work­ing fam­i­lies depend on the con­sis­ten­cy and pre­dictabil­i­ty of sup­ports and ser­vices our schools offer. We are work­ing with part­ners and the city to deter­mine how to best mit­i­gate the impact clos­ing schools will have on work­ing fam­i­lies.

We also rec­og­nize there are still a lot of unknowns about this dis­ease and just how preva­lent it is in our com­mu­ni­ty.

Yes­ter­day, we had our first staff mem­ber con­firmed with COVID-19. As test­ing becomes more read­i­ly avail­able, these cas­es will increase. While chil­dren appear to be more pro­tect­ed from extreme symp­toms, adults, includ­ing our edu­ca­tors and employ­ees, need sup­port and pro­tec­tion as well.

As we have shared many times, our goal has been to keep our doors open as long as pos­si­ble in order to sup­port our stu­dents and the entire com­mu­ni­ty. Our incred­i­ble school staff, school lead­ers, and cen­tral sup­port staff have been unwa­ver­ing in this com­mit­ment. We appre­ci­ate their ser­vice to our com­mu­ni­ty, chil­dren, and fam­i­lies.

It is in times like these that our com­mu­ni­ty val­ues become vis­i­ble. Please take care of each oth­er.

Reach out to neigh­bors and lend a hand to those in need. We will get through this, but it will take all of us think­ing cre­ative­ly and con­tin­u­ing to sup­port our community’s chil­dren.

The super­in­ten­dent will con­tin­ue to stay in con­ver­sa­tion with the city, state, and local offi­cials, and part­ners as our entire region responds to new guid­ance and a call to take an active role com­bat­ing COVID-19. More infor­ma­tion will be com­mu­ni­cat­ed Thurs­day, March 12th, to all fam­i­lies. Please check the Coro­n­avirus 2019 Update web­page for new infor­ma­tion.

Northshore, in the Both­ell-Wood­inville area, has already closed its schools for sev­er­al weeks and more dis­tricts could be about to fol­low suit.

Lake Wash­ing­ton, the state’s sec­ond largest, has stayed open, but a peti­tion with over 60,000 sig­na­tures is call­ing for LWSD to close its facil­i­ties and switch to a remote learn­ing set­up like Northshore has done.

UPDATE: Lake Wash­ing­ton now says it’s clos­ing its schools start­ing tomor­row.

The Lake Wash­ing­ton School Dis­trict has been fol­low­ing guid­ance from Pub­lic Health in an effort to stay open as long as pos­si­ble.

In light of the cur­rent infor­ma­tion shared today by our elect­ed offi­cials, we believe it is time to plan for alter­na­tive ways to serve our com­mu­ni­ty and fam­i­lies.

In col­lab­o­ra­tion with our School Board of Direc­tors and our Lake Wash­ing­ton Edu­ca­tion Asso­ci­a­tion, we have made the deci­sion to close all schools from March 12th through March 27th, and re-eval­u­ate any fur­ther clo­sures dur­ing that time.

We know that many peo­ple rely on our school dis­trict for their abil­i­ty to con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing ser­vices to our com­mu­ni­ty through their employ­ers. We play an impor­tant role in the abil­i­ty of many orga­ni­za­tions to con­tin­ue run­ning for the health and safe­ty of our com­mu­ni­ty. This is not an easy deci­sion, and our plans mov­ing for­ward require addi­tion­al plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion.

On Thurs­day and Fri­day, we will be plan­ning for an alter­na­tive mod­el with the fol­low­ing ser­vices:

  • Avail­able child­care dur­ing school hours for fam­i­lies who are not able to remain home or serve in crit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ty roles such as health­care and first respon­ders.
  • Avail­able meals for chil­dren pro­vid­ed at school sites – details to fol­low.
  • Avail­able edu­ca­tion­al resources with sup­ports for at-home learn­ing.

We rec­og­nize this clo­sure cre­ates many dif­fer­ent chal­lenges, and our goal is to pro­vide basic ser­vices to con­tin­ue sup­port­ing our fam­i­lies and our com­mu­ni­ties.

We will con­tin­ue to pro­vide updat­ed infor­ma­tion over the next two days, and we would ask for your patience in sub­mit­ting any ques­tions or con­cerns to allow our staff to focus on their work and plan­ning for the next two weeks.

We strong­ly urge fam­i­lies to fol­low the updat­ed guid­ance from King Coun­ty Pub­lic Health for social dis­tanc­ing and oth­er pre­cau­tions in an effort to slow the spread of this virus.

Thank you for your ongo­ing part­ner­ship as we work togeth­er to con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing vital ser­vices while also tak­ing new pre­cau­tions.

Dr. Jane Stavem, Super­in­ten­dent
Lake Wash­ing­ton School Dis­trict

We will post a link to a com­plete list of school clos­ings in a sub­se­quent update.

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One Ping

  1. […] Sev­er­al large school dis­tricts have announced that their build­ings and facil­i­ties will be closed and all class­es can­celed for the next few weeks, includ­ing Seat­tle, Lake Wash­ing­ton, Shore­line, and Belle­vue. Learn more about the clo­sures. […]

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