Puget Sound schools feel strain of omicron surge, as some mull return to remote learning

Jan 10, 2022, 12:09 PM
student vaccine mandate, Washington, Seattle schools, remote learning...
(Seattle Public Schools, Facebook)
(Seattle Public Schools, Facebook)

Puget Sound schools are already beginning to struggle with Washington’s recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, with two canceling all classes on Monday, and another shifting to remote learning.

Seattle schools on track to return in person after break, but will go remote ‘if necessary’

Both Kimball Elementary and Franklin High School in Seattle canceled classes on Monday, citing issues with student absences and staffing shortages, noting that “based on current staff and student attendance data, the normal flow of our students’ day will be drastically impacted.”

While classes are expected to resume at both schools on Tuesday, officials are still “working to determine” what form that will take — be it a return to in-person operations, moving back to virtual learning, or taking a hybrid approach moving forward.

“This decision will be based on a review of staff attendance data,” Seattle Public Schools said in a news release.

SPS offered COVID testing clinics for all students and staff prior to the resumption of classes last week, identifying 588 positive COVID-19 cases, comprising roughly 4% of those who were tested. Up-to-date data since then is not currently available on the district’s COVID dashboard.

Still a chance of school closures, but decision will fall to districts

One other local school has already opted to roll back to remote classes, with Kirkland’s Lake Washington High School announcing the temporary shift on Sunday night.

The Lake Washington School District said the decision was made due to the district’s inability to safely operate the school, resulting from “so many staff being absent and the number of unfilled sub positions.”

The district said it attempted to fill uncovered administrative, classroom, and supervisory positions over the past week but said there are more absences than it is able to cover.

“As I have said, our goal has been to keep our schools open for in-person learning with the knowledge that we may need to close a school. I greatly appreciate your understanding as we navigate the current situation,” Superintendent Dr. Jan Holmen said.

Meanwhile, several Washington colleges and universities started their winter terms remotely this month. That includes the University of Washington, Seattle University, Bellevue College, Seattle Pacific University, Washington State University, and Western Washington University.

KIRO 7 TV staff contributed to this report.

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Puget Sound schools feel strain of omicron surge, as some mull return to remote learning