Northshore schools to close for up to 2 weeks amid coronavirus concerns

BOTHELL, Wash. -- The Northshore School District says all schools will be closed for up to two weeks beginning Thursday, March 5 due to ongoing coronavirus concerns.

Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid made the announcement in a letter to Northshore families, citing the "rapidly changing situation" with COVID-19.  Reid said earlier Wednesday that a parent volunteer at the district's Woodmoor Elementary tested "presumptive positive" for coronavirus.

That school and Northshore's Frank Love Elementary, which is awaiting COVID-19 test results for a staff member, were both previously scheduled to be closed on Thursday. The Frank Love Elementary employee had been directed to self-quarantine, Reid said.

The closures include 33 schools and impact roughly 23,000 students in the cities of Bothell, Kenmore and Woodinville. One of the district's elementary schools is in Redmond.

Reid said that over the next day the district will "communicate plans to transition instruction from classroom to cloud (online learning) beginning Monday, March 9." She also said the district was developing plans to help provide meals for students in need as well as "student support centers" for families who don't have daycare options during the extended closure.

"We are shifting our education from the classroom with four walls to the cloud," Reid's letter to families reads. "We are taking this strategic approach not because we think by doing so, we will stop an epidemic; we are simply trying to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19."

Northshore closed all schools on Tuesday to train staff for the possibility of remote learning. Reid said that on Wednesday there was a districtwide absentee rate of 20 percent.

Last week, Northshore's Bothell High School was closed for two days after the family member of a school employee was quarantined and tested for the virus after recent international travel. The employee's family member tested negative.

COVID-19 has killed at least 10 people in Washington state, according to health officials. More than 3,200 have died globally from the outbreak. There are now over 94,000 global cases, with infections in more than 70 countries and territories.