Federal Way Public Schools says dozens of students, teachers have COVID

Not even a full week into the school year, many districts are already dealing with COVID cases. 

Federal Way Public Schools has a dashboard on their website that captures confirmed cases. As of Wednesday, the data available covered Aug. 19 to Sept 2. During that time span, they had 46 students reporting to the district that they had COVID and at least 20 teachers doing the same thing. 

Around 22 schools are impacted, including Thomas Jefferson High School, Decatur High School and Meredith Hill Elementary School. 

Many of these reports came in weeks before school started on Sept. 1.

"It’s ridiculous. It's scary, honestly," said district mother Katie McCann. She is a mom of three with one child at Thomas Jefferson High School in Auburn.  

The district says none of the cases so far have been traced back to in-school transmission, instead, the transmission happened outside of schools.

"The community transmission in South King County has been higher for the duration of the pandemic," said Shannon McCann, the President of the Federal Way Education Association. She says the cases are a reflection of community transmission. 

Speaking on behalf of teachers, McCann says it is still concerning and disruptive to have so many cases just days into the school year.

"As educators, we are very thankful to be vaccinated but we are still very worried about our students some of whom are not old enough to be vaccinated," McCann said.

The union says more space, social distancing and ventilation are all important. McCann says contact tracing in a situation like this is also complex and educators are doing the best they can.

RELATED: Positive COVID case at Kirkland middle school determined to have 53 close contacts in King County

As for Katie McCann, she is keeping her fingers crossed that her family won’t catch COVID or get a call to quarantine due to potential exposure during the school year.

"I would have no income coming in. I wouldn’t go to work, I would tell my work to quarantine," Katie said.

Due to all the cases at Federal Way Public Schools, 96 families were told to quarantine due to potential exposure in the first few days of school. 

But the district emphasized that the cases are not outbreaks because they do not fit the health department’s parameters as outbreaks.

On Tuesday, Lake Washington School District announced that dozens of families had to go into quarantine due to COVID.

Puyallup School District on Wednesday confirmed that there are 5 COVID cases causing 5 different classrooms to go into quarantine. The schools impacted are Meeker Elementary, Firgrove and Wildwood Elementary. 

Spokesperson Sarah Gillispie says the goal of Puyallup schools is to avoid a disruption to learning when students and classrooms are in quarantine.  The district also says seating charts will be followed for the purpose of reliable contact tracing.

"Classroom teachers will partner with students and families to make sure a disruption to learning is minimized," Gillispie said.

Q13 News asked Federal Way Public Schools a number of questions including how long families would have to quarantine for, as well as if those students would have access to live remote learning.

The district did not answer those questions except to say they are following all health department guidelines.

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