Coronavirus closes Washington schools after positive student test

District closing buildings for cleaning and to train teachers on remote instruction, while other schools have reopened
By: | March 3, 2020

Positive coronavirus tests and training exercises closed several schools in Washington on Monday and Tuesday, with some reopening after crews disinfected buildings, according to published reports.

North of Seattle, Henry M. Jackson High School in Everett Public Schools reopened on Tuesday after three days of cleaning following a student’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis last week, KOMO News reported.

On its website, the district said anyone who had come in contact with the student has been quarantined.

The district, which has been providing updates on its website throughout the day, has received incredible support and guidance from the Washington governor’s office and the local health district, Superintendent Ian Saltzman told District Administration on Tuesday.

“The key to this whole thing is communication, this is about overcommunicating with your public,” Saltzman said. “You can plan for a hurricane or an earthquake or a tornado, but a virus is a little different. This has never happened before.”

While no other students had fallen ill as of Tuesday afternoon, custodians in the district have made cleaning touchpoints a high priority and been verifying that each classroom has a cleaner for wiping down surfaces such as desks and tables.

Superintendent Ian Saltzman

Hand sanitizing stations have been ordered for each cafeteria, school offices and other frequently visited locations.

“Everybody’s a little anxious,” said Saltzman, adding that the district would remain open on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued coronavirus guidance for K-12 school districts and childcare providers.

More coronavirus closures in Washington

The Colville School District near Spokane closed indefinitely Monday, with administrators saying schools wouldn’t reopen at least until results came back on a person being tested for COVID-19. Buildings will be disinfected in the mean time.

All schools in the Northshore School District, also north of Seattle, were closed Tuesday so teachers and staff could train to provide remote instruction should schools close for an extended period, the district said on its website.

Cleaning crews will disinfect each building in the district during the day.

The district was also preparing to loan computers and other devices to students who needed them, should classes be moved online.

More from DA: Coronavirus fears force schools to plan to move online

In the Kent School District, Kentwood High School and Covington Elementary School will be closed for cleaning on Tuesday, the district said on its website. KOMO News reported that a parent with children at both schools came down with flu-like symptoms last week.

Also in Everett, Mariner High and Discovery Elementary schools in thein the Mukilteo School District reopened Tuesday after a “thorough cleaning,” the district said on its website.

A parent of a student at the high school had tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, KOMO News reported.

COVID-19 closes schools in New York, Idaho

Three districts in northern Idaho, on the border of Washington, closed Monday for cleaning even though there confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, USA Today reported.

Students from these districts attended a jazz festival with musicians from Henry M. Jackson High School in Washington, where the student—who wasn’t at the festival—tested positive for the virus, according to USA Today.

In New York, two private schools in the Bronx were closed Tuesday because of a suspected case of COVID-19 in the community, CNBC reported.

This story will be updated throughout the day.