Masks again required at Renton school due to rise in COVID-19 cases

RENTON, Wash. — Masks are back for some students after a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Students and staff at Dimmitt Middle School in the Renton School District are once again required to wear face coverings indoors.

The Renton School District website said Dimmitt has reported 39 positive cases in the past two weeks — 34 students and five staff members.

There are about 645 students at the school.

Families will be notified when masks will be optional again.

The move comes as a rise in cases in King County has pushed the county from the “green” to the “yellow” zone — meaning the county is back in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s medium COVID-19 community level.

“All ages are trending up recently, but the highest rates continue to be in young adults,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, King County’s public health officer. “We should see these yellow traffic lights as a slow-down and use this opportunity to lower our risk,” he said during a remote meeting that was livestreamed over Facebook on Monday.

Duchin emphasized that hospitalizations and deaths are still holding steady at a low level, despite the spike in cases. He said that’s why there are no new mandates or formal recommendations.

However, he is urging people to consider wearing a mask in crowded indoor spaces.

Bremerton High School has also made the decision to switch to remote learning on Thursday and Friday because of a staff shortage.

School district officials said on Tuesday that 28 of 100 staff members were absent due to a variety of illnesses, including COVID-19.

With a third of the staff unavailable, students are again attending classes online.

In-person learning at Bremerton High is slated to resume on Monday, though a final decision will be made on Sunday night.