COVID outbreak shuts down in-person classes at Whatcom County district

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — A COVID outbreak has shut down in-person classes at an entire private school district in Whatcom County for two weeks.

Officials at Lynden Christian Schools say they decided to move to remote learning before the health department ordered it.

Whatcom County health officials say the schools reported 48 COVID cases, and more than 100 students were absent with COVID-like symptoms, a rate six times higher than the average for county schools.

“We’re deeply concerned about this number of cases in school,” said superintendent Paul Bootsma.

A health department statement referenced “limited adherence” to COVID safety rules.

Bootsma told KIRO 7 there’s been a problem this school year getting some students at all grade levels to wear masks.

“There were issues across the system,” he said.

In a statement, Whatcom County co-health officer Dr. Greg Thompson confirmed “masking compliance among students was a significant concern.”

The superintendent said none of the students are seriously ill with COVID, but there is one case he calls “concerning.”

Lynden Christian Schools has about 1,300 students.