Coronavirus: Up to Date News

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Samuel Ketchem

The homepage of the Snohomish Health District's COVID-19 resource center.

Sam Ketchem, Web Editor

April 6-8:57 P.M.

Today, Governor Jay Inslee officially ordered all schools closed until June. The state has said that instruction must continue through remote learning activities as planned.

State officials will continue to work with local districts to provide further guidance and aid, Inslee said.

Snohomish School District will begin remote learning initiatives on April 13th. The district is offering assistance to students who require a computer or internet access to engage in online instruction. As the situation develops, the district will continue to inform families about what may come next.

March 11-9:57 p.m.

After a long debate, and in a four to one vote, the Snohomish School District board decided to follow the guidance provided by local health officials and close all schools beginning Friday March 13. This closure will last April 24th but is subject to change as conditions evolve.

“We need to be concerned with the safety of our community. I think closing is the right thing to do. It may not be easy but it is right,” school board member Shaunna Ballas said.

Josh Seek, who voted against the closure, said that he wants to hear more from the state and from the governor before deciding to close the schools.

“I want to wait to for state and local officials. They have more of the data,” Seek said.

Although the district is waiting to see what state officials say about sports and other extracurriculars like musicals, they believe they may also have to be cancelled or postponed.

Plans to care for the needs of the district’s members are now being moved into place. On Friday, school administrators will be called in to discuss plans for remote learning. While the exact structure of this plan is still undecided, it may include distributing computers and internet hotspots to students who lack access so classrooms can be moved online through applications like Zoom. Superintendent Kent Kultgen said that they hope to rollout these procedures by the end of next week, but complications could arise.

“We need to stay nimble as the situation changes,” Kultgen said at the board meeting.

The district also wants to continue to provide school lunches to families in need. They will start by handing out food in sacks for students to take home, but they hope to eventually expand the program and follow their normal procedure to provide meals like they would in the summer. This will require approval from state officials, as will issues like the continuation of teacher pay and benefits. For now, temporary plans will be put in place and their effectiveness will be evaluated. Eventually, the district will be able to provide better and longer-lasting strategies for remote learning, food service, teacher compensation, and potentially childcare.

“We are going to start with basic plans and then build out from there with improved systems. This is really unprecedented and we’ll need to try to see what works and what doesn’t,” Kultgen said.

March 10-1:35 p.m.

School officials have just announced that all district facilities will open tomorrow and resume operations after the employee who tested positive for COVID-19 was moved into isolation and all equipment was disinfected. Health officials determined that no other members of Snohomish School District, whether that be students or faculty, had “close contact” with the individual who worked in the transportation office. Unless another situation develops, school operations will return to normal, the district said in an email.

March 9-6:45 p.m.

The district has announced that all facilities, including Glacier Peak, will be closed Tuesday March 10 after a district transportation employee tested positive for COVID-19. All sports practices and other activities are also cancelled. Officials are now working with Snohomish Health District officials to determine if the employee had any contact with others in the community, the school district said in an email.

March 9-9:32 a.m.

Snohomish School District officials have determined that all non-essential activities should immediately be cancelled or postponed. All field trips, large group gatherings, or events held by non-district organizations will be cancelled. Sporting practices are still being held but could be cancelled if the outbreak worsens.

March 6-8:43 a.m.

Today, the Department of Health will recommend that schools cancel all non-essential gatherings of people. School administrators have decided to follow these recommendations. This means that next week’s spring pep assembly will be canceled and hopefully rescheduled for before spring break. Other events will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Snohomish School District has still decided to remain open because there are no confirmed cases within the district. District officials say that they are closely monitoring the situation and are working with the Snohomish Health District and other partners to keep families safe.

“We will continue to support school officials in making the best decisions for their students and families,” a spokesperson said.

Because of the virus’ spread, Northshore School District announced on Wednesday that they were canceling all classes throughout the district for up to fourteen days. All students would attend online classes. Additionally, Everett Community College closed after a student tested positive for COVID-19.

March 3-9:46 a.m.

Yesterday Snohomish School District Superintendent Kent Kultgen announced that they would step up cleaning procedures at all district facilities. All salad bars and other open foods bars will be closed and replaced with pre-packaged foods. The district is also encouraging everyone to wash their hands, cover coughs and sneezes, and stay home if they feel sick. Kultgen stressed that these are only precautions and no community member involved with the district has test positive.

“We do this in an atmosphere of preparedness, best practices and partnership to minimize the impact of this outbreak,” Kultgen said.

March 2-9:30 a.m.

The COVID-19 situation is still developing. Today, Bothell High School reopened after a potentially infect person tested negative for the virus. But, on Tues. March 3, all Northshore School District schools will be closed to train teachers on online teaching methods should schools be closed for a prolonged amount of time. Additionally, Mariner High School is closed for cleaning today after a student’s family member was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Snohomish School District officials are still unsure what will happen as the situation develops. Any potential closures or activity cancellations will depend on how many, if any, students, faculty members, or community members contract the virus. As of now, schools will continue to operate as normal and sports and extracurricular activities will still be held. Rooter buses to the state basketball game in Tacoma are still scheduled to run. But, this is subject to change if the Novel Coronavirus continues to spread.

“It is really all up in the air depending on the conditions,”
school athletic director Kevin Judkins said.

For more information on the virus, how to reduce the likelihood of infection, or to view updates about its spread, click here.

February 29-6:56 p.m.

On Feb. 28, Snohomish County Health Department and Everett School District officials announced that a case of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, had been reported at Jackson High School. The student had reportedly had little contact with other students, but those who came in contact would immediately be quarantined. Based on this diagnosis, the school district announced that they would immediately close down Jackson High School for disinfecting until March 3.

“We are taking this seriously and will keep families and community updated as we get direction from the Department of Health and Snohomish Health District,” the school district said in a Facebook post.

The school district also took extra precautions and decided to disinfect Gateway Middle School, Heatherwood Middle School, and school buses. But, these schools will not be closed and the buses will soon be back in service.

Although there are no confirmed or pending cases reported in Snohomish School District, health officials have warned everyone to immediately look for signs of the virus and ensure that they are practicing good  hygiene. They say that the virus has most likely been circulating through the area over the past six weeks and that they are taking steps to implement a strong response plan.

“We are still evaluating the findings with our state and local partners and coordinating on next steps,” the Snohomish Health District said in a Facebook post.

For more information on the virus, how to reduce the likelihood of infection, or to view updates about its spread, click here.