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These Eastern Washington, North Idaho schools have closed, canceled events due to COVID

Several schools throughout the region have canceled school due to staffing shortages, while others have canceled events due to a high transmission rate of COVID-19.

SPOKANE, Wash. — As COVID-19 cases continue to climb across the Inland Northwest, schools and school districts are adapting to the most recent surge and dealing with the impact the virus continues to have.

Several schools throughout the region have canceled school due to staffing shortages, including Spokane Public Schools. Other districts have canceled events due to a high transmission rate of COVID-19 among staff and students.

Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) issued new recommendations for large events at schools on Jan. 11, which include canceling or postponing events until COVID-19 cases stabilize, requiring attendees to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, and closing food concessions to limit close contact. 

While the decision to hold in-person events at schools remains up to each district's administration, SRHD works closely with school administrations to provide guidance and support, according to the health district's website.

Here is what local schools and school districts are doing amid the latest COVID-19 surge in the Inland Northwest:

Spokane Public Schools

Schools closed on Jan. 24

Spokane Public Schools canceled classes for Monday, Jan. 24 Tuesday, because of staffing shortages brought on by COVID-19.

SPS will not offer morning or afternoon childcare on Jan. 24. Sports and other extracurricular activities are being adjusted as well.

In an email sent to SPS parents, the district said they are "using every means available" to keep students in the classroom and are following guidance from health officials.

Students will not be in school on Jan. 24 and will be released early on Friday, Jan. 28. Students were already set to not have school on Monday, Jan. 31 for semester break.

In addition to announcing the closure, SPS also announced a new interactive contact tracing tool that will be available on the district website on Friday. The new contact tracing form will "increase the efficiency of providing guidance to staff and schools regarding quarantine timelines."

Coeur d'Alene School District

Preparing for remote learning

The Coeur d’Alene School District announced the possibility of temporary closures due to staff shortages from COVID-19 and other illnesses, as reported by our news partner, Coeur d'Alene Press.

In an email sent to parents, Superintendent Shon Hocker said staff absences due to the high rate of illness in the community have placed a strain on the district’s ability to adequately staff some schools and programs.

One in six teachers requested a substitute last week. 104 of the district’s 600 teachers were absent, and only 60% were covered by a substitute on Jan. 13. It was also the fifth consecutive day with more than 80 teacher absences.

Fight for the Fish canceled

Lake City High School's Athletic Director confirmed that Fight for the Fish, the annual spirit competition between Lake City High School and Coeur d'Alene High School, has been canceled.

The event was canceled due to high COVID-19 numbers, according to school officials.

While the spirit competition has been canceled, the boy's and girl's basketball teams will still play their games as scheduled.

Read more here.

Woodland Middle School 

Moving classes online (temporarily)

The school announced on Thursday that due to a high rate of staff absences from COVID-19 and other illnesses, Woodland Middle School is temporarily moving to remote learning.

The switch to remote learning will start Friday, Jan. 21, and will continue through Monday, Jan. 24. The school administrators said the school is continuously evaluating the situation and will announce on Monday if they need to continue in a remote learning format.  

Read more here.

Centennial Middle School

Centennial Middle School in Spokane will be remote from Jan. 20-Jan. 24 due to a high rate of students out sick. The school said on its website that there have been 89 positive cases of COVID-19 in the last 2 weeks with over 400 students absent on Wednesday. 

Students may need to test negative for COVID before returning to class on January 25. Here is guidance from the school:

In-person learning will resume on Tuesday, January 25th for students who choose to participate in the “Test to Stay” protocol. This protocol requires students to be symptom-free and test negative on a COVID-19 test before returning to school. 

Testing will be provided at CMS on Monday, January 24th and Tuesday, January 25th. A follow-up communication will be sent with testing times and location.

If your student has tested positive for COVID in the last 90 days and is symptom-free, they can return to school without testing on Tuesday, January 25th.

If you do not want your student to participate in the testing protocol to return on Tuesday, January 25th, your student will need to quarantine at home for a total of 10 days starting Thursday, January 20th, with a return on Monday, January 31st. 

Read more here.

Creston School District

Creston School District closed schools on Jan. 20 and 21 because of the high number of staff out sick. The two missed days will be made up on June 14 and 15.

The district said there is adequate staffing to continue extracurricular activities, practices and games as scheduled.

Freeman School District

Preparing for remote learning

Freeman School District's (FSD) leadership team announced their remote learning plan on Jan. 10.

The announcement came as FSD reported that COVID-19 cases among students and staff "are at their highest level for the 2021-22 school year."

According to a Facebook post from FSD, the Freeman School Leadership Team is hoping to continue offering in-person learning for the rest of the school year. However, the school is also preparing in case the number of COVID-19 cases increases and classes have to move to in-person learning. 

FSD faculty and staff are working to set up Google Classroom and to provide a Chromebook device to every student in the district. The Facebook post from FSD said if the school needs to check out Chromebooks, they will communicate the process via SchoolMessenger and or by email.

Read more here.

Gonzaga Prep

Moving classes online (temporarily)

Gonzaga Preparatory School will move to online learning due to COVID-19 cases starting on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022.

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.

Mead School District

Sporting events, practices canceled

The Mead School District (MSD) is canceling high-risk sports and practices due to a shortage of COVID-19 tests, according to a voicemail from the district.

MSD currently does not have enough tests to continue with their athletic testing and 'Test-to-Stay' programs, a program that allows students who come in close contact with a COVID-positive person to remain in the classroom if they test negative.

Beginning Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, high-risk sporting events and practices throughout MSD will be canceled until testing supplies arrive. High-risk sporting events include all contact sports like basketball and wrestling.

Read more here.

RELATED: Rivalry high school basketball games held at Spokane Arena rescheduled due to COVID-19

Omak School District

Moving some grades to remote learning

The Omak School District is moving some of its grades to remote learning due to staff shortages related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Omak SD said on Facebook, grades six through twelve will go to remote learning on Tuesday, January 18. Kindergarten through 5th grade will remain in-person learning.

Rearden-Edwall School District

Moving classes online (temporarily)

Rearden-Edwall School District in Rearden, Wash. is transitioning to remote learning for the week of Jan. 17 due to staffing shortages, according to a voicemail from the district.

Classes are not in session on Jan. 17 because of the holiday, but beginning Tuesday, Jan. 18, classes will be held remotely for the rest of the week.