SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — The East Valley School District announced Friday that students will transition to virtual learning starting Monday, Nov. 16 due to an increase in COVID-19 related absences within the district.
According to a note to families and staff, students will continue virtual learning for at least two weeks.
“When county COVID-19 cases improve and we are able to adequately staff for a safe and efficient operation of the district, we will then plan for a return to in-person instruction,” the note says.
The decision was made by Superintendent Kelly Shea and not the Spokane Regional Health District, according to the note.
“This decision is based on our inability to provide enough staff to operate due to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases in our district and the number of staff who have been placed in quarantine as a result of being exposed to someone who has tested positive,” the note reads. “Though our number of positive cases have significantly increased this week, we still have not found evidence of the virus being transmitted within our schools, though it remains a possibility.”
According to Shea, there's been 13 positive COVID-19 cases since Nov. 2. He said 53 staff and 217 students are in quarantine.
KREM 2’s Amanda Roley spoke with Shea following the decision.
"So because of the the sheer number of staff as well as students, because we have 217 students that are currently quarantined, they'll all be able to return to school on Nov. 30," Shea said. "So we're knowing that we'll be getting the bulk of our staff back, that will ensure that we'll be able to staff our schools appropriately. What we'll have to monitor, though, between now and then, is how many more people have to quarantine because they may have been exposed to someone will have to monitor how many people test positive."
Click here to watch the full interview.
Roley asked Shea earlier in the day if the district has an outbreak on its hands.
“Oh, we're very close,” Shea said. “We've been in conversations with the regional health district and, because of the number of cases that we have, some of our schools have been moved to a different level...”
Families will be receiving more information from their school principal as well as their child’s teacher giving details as to what they should expect during this transition.