Several schools in Seattle and around the Puget Sound either closed Friday or announced they are switching to distance learning as educators continue to struggle with staff shortages and student absences amid a spate of new coronavirus cases.
Public Schools in Seattle canceled classes at Chief Sealth International High School, Cleveland High School, Lincoln High School, and at all Interagency High School locations.
The neighborhood too announced that students from Aki Kurose Middle School, Mercer Middle School, Meany Middle School, Olympic Hills Elementary and South Shore PreK-8 will be taking remote classes until Jan. 21. The same is true for elementary school students at Broadview-Thompson K-8.
Classes at Franklin High School and Lowell Elementary will also be online until January 17 and 19, respectively.
When the extraordinarily contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus began to spread through Washington last month, the return to online learning seemed almost inevitable for some state school students. The state now has an average of nearly 16,000 new cases per day, an increase of a staggering 217% in the past two weeks.
Obviously, schools are not immune to the wave. Seattle Public Schools, those tracks the number of new cases in the district on a weekly basis, registered 803 new cases among students and staff between January 1 and January 7. The previous week-long high in new cases for the district’s school year was 139.
In the Lake Washington School District, the second-largest district in the state behind Seattle Public Schools, classes at Redmond Middle School were canceled Friday.
In a message to parents on Thursday, the district said 25% of the school’s staff would be absent on Friday. Administrators plan to meet Monday to decide whether the school will temporarily switch to distance learning.
Students from four district high schools — Lake Washington High School, Juanita High School, Redmond High School and Emerson High School — will take online classes through the end of next week.