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Some Eastern Washington, North Idaho schools moving to virtual learning due to high COVID-19 cases

Currently, 30% of Gonzaga Prep students are absent due to COVID-19 infection and other illnesses.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Gonzaga Preparatory School will move to online learning due to COVID-19 cases starting on Wednesday.

According to an email sent to families, school officials expect to return to in-person learning on Monday, Jan. 24.  In the email, they said that currently 30% of students are absent due to COVID-19 infections or other illnesses. 

Other school districts around Eastern Washington and North Idaho are making plans to move to virtual learning, but some only want to move as a last resort. These plans come from rising COVID-19 case numbers in the region. 

In addition to Gonzaga Prep, three other schools have officially made the move in just the first two weeks of the year.

Great Northern Schools were online for the first week of January, Wellpinit Schools are online through Jan. 18 and East Valley schools returned to classes on Tuesday after cancelling on Monday.

Freeman schools also shared information with students on how to prepare for a switch to virtual learning. 

Eastern Washington Superintendent Dr. Michael Dunn said schools are doing their best to continue to provide a safe learning environment, as long as they have staff to do so.

Schools across the region are facing staffing shortages in addition to COVID-19 issues.

The Mead School District Board has discussed adding incentives for substitute teachers including more money, waiving vaccination requirements and providing more paid time off. 

Even the East Valley superintendent was out of the office today because he was in schools filling in for missing staff.

Also, the Great Northern schools transportation director told KREM 2 he used to serve as a substitute bus driver on a team of four. Now, he's the only driver for the district. 

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