As coronavirus cases mount across the state, Seattle Public Schools is postponing its Jan. 3 return after its winter break to allow students and staff to get tested for the virus.
School will resume on Tuesday, January 4.
In an online announcement, the district said it received 60,000 rapid antigen tests from the state health ministry. It will distribute those tests for free to several of its schools on Jan. 3. A list of locations, along with their opening times, can be found on the district page website.
While there will be no classes on January 3, all school buildings will be open during normal hours for students who require access to meals. All schools will serve takeout lunches between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
No appointments are necessary for testing. However, a consent form signed by a parent or guardian is required for any student under the age of 18. Consent forms are available here.
The district will also hold a testing clinic at the South Shore PreK-8 School on January 2 – Sunday – for students living in the Southeast and Central regions of the district. You can sign up online for an appointment at that clinic here. Consent forms signed by a parent or guardian are also required for any student under the age of 18.
The district — the largest in the state — said the delay is the result of a recent spike in COVID-19 cases caused by the novel Omicron strain of the coronavirus. Although infections are usually milder, the variant is considered extremely contagious.
In fact, Washington recently broke its record for the number of new infections registered in a single day — a record set at a time when vaccines were just beginning to become available in the US. In King County, the number of new cases is up 195% from the previous week.