Bellevue School District delays plans for in-classroom learning

Because of rising numbers of coronavirus cases in King County, the Bellevue School District is delaying in-person learning until January.

The district is abandoning earlier plans to bring its youngest students back into classrooms in a few weeks.

“Considering the current level of transmission and the steady increase we have observed over the last week, we do not feel that we can successfully mitigate risks to health and safety if we are to bring larger numbers of students back into our school buildings,” reads an announcement posted Thursday evening on the district’s website.

Earlier this month, when the district initially announced it would restart some in-person learning, King County’s infection rate was 53 cases per 100,000 people, within the 25 to 75 cases per 100,000 range that state guidelines say would indicate it’s safe to start reintroducing elementary school students to school buildings. On Thursday, the rate had spiked to 92 cases.

So far this fall, Bellevue, which enrolls 21,000 students, was the largest district in King County to set a date for moving to in-person learning. Issaquah had also planned to start educating kindergartners and first-grade students starting Thursday, but last week it, too, reversed course.

Other large districts such as Seattle have avoided making statements in response to infection rates. Seattle says it has no immediate plans to bring large groups of students back.