Private Schools in Pierce County to reopen despite spike in coronavirus cases

VIDEO: Private Schools in Pierce County to reopen despite spike in coronavirus cases

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — Three large private schools in Pierce County will be open in the fall.

The websites of Charles Wright Academy in University Place, and Annie Wright Schools and Life Christian Academy in Tacoma let parents know in-person classes will be offered even as Pierce County sees an increase in the spread of the coronavirus.

“Based on today’s conditions there’s widespread infections,” said Tacoma Pierce County Health Director Dr. Anthony Chen. “It’s going to get into the schools, it’s going to spread among the students.”

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Chen is opposed to in-person, in-class learning saying it poses serious health threats, despite the importance of getting kids back in school.

“But what’s the price of that? Are you willing to take the death of one teacher?” said Chen. “Do we want to preserve life? Do we want to let anyone get really sick and die? And everyone would say, oh absolutely we want to prevent everyone from getting sick and dying.”

Parents and students visiting Charles Wright Wednesday were greeted with a banner reading, “ready to reopen, ready to learn.” Their website says, “With regard to classrooms, we are moving towards clarity about the spacing of furniture, movement and grouping of students in classrooms, as well as the need for cleaning of shared materials.”

Annie Wright’s website says, “We plan to begin the 2021 school year with five full days of on-campus education.” Adding, “In this scenario we will implement daily temperature checks, health questionnaires, and significant physical distancing structures to help maintain the health of our families, faculty and staff.”

Life Christian Academy’s website states, “LCA will be open five days a week for live and in-person classes in the Fall. We will also be providing an eLearning option for those students who are not on campus.”

The state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction doesn’t oversee private schools and OSPI has left the decision to reopen public schools to local districts but acknowledged in a Facebook video that many parents and teachers are scared.

“Increasingly parents and staff are saying they don’t feel safe coming back because cases are on the rise, hospitalizations are on the rise, likely deaths are on the rise,” State Superintendent Chris Reykdal said in the post.

In an email statement to KIRO 7 Charles Wright Academy Head of School Susan Rice said, “Charles Wright Academy is committed first and foremost to the health and safety of our community. Our plan for the fall adheres to, and exceeds, the recommended protocols and guidelines for Washington school reopening plans.”

Annie Wright Schools and Life Christian Academy did not respond to calls and emails. KIRO 7 also contacted the Seattle Archdiocese about plans for Catholic schools in Pierce County but the call was not returned.