All Northshore schools closed for up to 14 days

BOTHELL, Wash. — Officials with the Northshore School District announced all schools will close again beginning March 5, for up to 14 days to monitor the coronavirus situation and health department recommendations. School officials said they will communicate plans Wednesday and Thursday to transition instruction from classroom to online learning, set to begin March 9.

In a letter to families, district Superintendent Michelle Reid, said the decision was made “thoughtfully” and with the support of various district and community leaders.

The decision also comes as the superintendent said there was a student absentee rate of 20% districtwide.

“In addition, 26 of our schools have been affected via direct or indirect exposure to the COVID-19 virus. We are receiving numerous calls and emails from parents and staff who are self-quarantining or are choosing to keep their students home,” the letter stated.

The letter on Wednesday also stated: “While we are working to minimize exposure of our students by making sure the education continues online, we are also concerned about the health of our staff. Dr. Jeff Duchin from Public Health - Seattle & King County said today that children are not believed to be at serious risk for the disease, but we must be mindful of the population that is at higher risk. The new public health recommendations to slow the spread of coronavirus we received following today’s press conference indicate that those people at higher risk should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible.”

District officials said this about continuing student education online:

“After Tuesday’s training, we are now prepared to transition from the classroom to the cloud, to move teaching and learning beyond the four walls of the classroom for all of our students. Our instructional staff have and will continue to develop their skills for providing instruction to our students within an online environment. The team worked with students today to make sure they are acquainted with the online platform(s) they will be using and that students are equipped with a device and Wi-Fi to engage in virtual learning. This Northshore Learns webpage provides classroom to cloud information and instructions for students and parents/guardians.”

All schools in the Northshore School District were closed Tuesday so staff could prepare for the possibility of a coronavirus outbreak.

The closure affected 33 schools and more than 23,000 students in Bothell, Kenmore, Woodinville and parts of unincorporated King and Snohomish counties.

Staff trained to teach classes remotely in case the spread of COVID-19 keeps students from physically coming to school.

It was part of a contingency plan they’re developing in response to coronavirus.

“It’s about pausing our normal practice and routine and making space to plan and prepare, should that become a possibility,” said Northshore School District Superintendent Michelle Reid.

In addition to training, support services completed a districtwide disinfection of each school campus.

Many parents KIRO 7 spoke with believed the plan was a good idea.

“It makes sense to close down schools. That’s what they did in Hong Kong and they have had only 100 cases in the entire area. So, keep the kids away from each other, and you might prevent a lot of spreading,” said Northshore parent Summer Wilson.

Northshore's Frank Love Elementary School was closed Monday because a staff member at the school had flu-like symptoms and was being tested for the virus.

Last week, Northshore’s Bothell High School was closed for two days while an employee’s family member was quarantined and tested. Test results in that case came back negative.