The Seattle Public School District will close for at least two weeks amid concerns over the spread of novel coronavirus.
The district announced the closure in a message sent to families.
"The decision to close the district was extremely difficult," the message said. "We know that closing our schools will impact our most vulnerable families and we recognize that working families depend on the consistency and predictability of supports and services our schools offer. We are working with partners and the city to determine how to best mitigate the impact closing schools will have on working families."
SPS is the largest school district in the state with more than 50,000 students. The closure will begin Thursday (March 12).
A public health spokesperson said in February that school districts haven't had comprehensive closures in this region since 1918 Spanish flu epidemic.
The announcement comes after a staff member at Aki Kurose Middle School was confirmed Tuesday to have the virus. Both Aki Kurose and Cleveland High closed Tuesday evening.
LAKE WASHINGTON SCHOOL DISTRICT
The Lake Washington School District, the state's second-largest school district, is closing all schools from March 12-March 27.
"We know that many people rely on our school district for their ability to continue providing services to our community through their employers," the school district said. "We play an important role in the ability of many organizations to continue running for the health and safety of our community. This is not an easy decision, and our plans moving forward require additional planning and preparation."
On Thursday and Friday, the district will be planning for an alternative model with the following services:
- Available childcare during school hours for families who are not able to remain home or serve in critical community roles such as healthcare and first responders.
- Available meals for children provided at school sites – details to follow.
- Available educational resources with supports for at-home learning.
"We strongly urge families to follow the updated guidance from King County Public Health for social distancing and other precautions in an effort to slow the spread of this virus," the district said.
Gov. Jay Inslee, joined by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and other leaders from King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, announced Wednesday morning that they would ban all gatherings of over 250 people, including sporting events and conventions. Governor Inslee said while he was not prepared to force schools to close or do remote learning, he asked schools and parents to start preparing for that possibility.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.