Bothell High School closed over COVID-19 concerns
Update, 7:30 a.m., 7/28/2020: Bothell High School was closed Thursday and Friday over fears of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19.
In a letter sent to parents Wednesday, Northshore School District Superintendent Michelle Reid said a school staff member returned to work on Monday after a week of international travel. A family member traveling with them then became sick Tuesday and was taken to an unidentified hospital. Reid said testing for the disease could take five to seven days.
“The Department of Health indicates the risk to students and staff is minimal and they do not believe the current situation warrants closing Bothell High School,” the letter said. “However, as we await the aforementioned test results, it is out of an abundance of caution that I have decided that Bothell High School will be closed on Thursday.”
Reid said the school was being deep cleaned. Later Thursday, district officials said the school would remain closed Friday.
County health officials sent out a statement emphasizing that coronavirus had not been confirmed.
“Closing schools when there has not been a confirmed case in a student or staff member is not currently recommended by Public Health — Seattle & King County or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the statement said. “Though this closure is not necessary from a public health point of view, we know that school districts act out of extra special caution when they are protecting children.”
Reid said the district is contacting families of students and employees who may have come in contact with the staff member. She noted the staffer was not the person who became sick.
She said the district acted “out of an abundance of caution” given the uncertainties over the disease. She also said she was concerned about how speculation might be spread on social media.
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The incident shows the difficulties that school officials face in trying to keep students safe, while not disrupting learning unnecessarily.
In press conferences this week, federal health officials and President Donald Trump have said the school, universities and other places where large numbers of people congregate should review plans for dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19.
So far, there has been only one confirmed case in Washington state – a Snohomish County man who traveled to China and returned in January. He was hospitalized but has since fully recovered.
Nationwide, there have been at least 60 cases, according to federal officials. One of those, confirmed Wednesday, was in a person in California who didn’t have a connection to international travel. That has worried health officials that the disease may be spreading in other ways in the United States.
Statement from Public Health – Seattle & King County:
“We understand that the Northshore School District is choosing to close Bothell High School on February 27, 2020 to clean the building because they are concerned about novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Closing schools when there has not been a confirmed case in a student or staff member is not currently recommended by Public Health — Seattle & King County or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though this closure is not necessary from a public health point of view, we know that school districts act out of extra special caution when they are protecting children. And the school knows its community best and is in charge of making decisions about the school.
Public Health will continue to provide guidance to the Northshore School District and will provide any support that we can.
There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Washington state or King County. Furthermore, no staff or students are suspected of being infected with this virus in the Northshore School District. There has been only one confirmed case in Washington state, in January 2020, and that person has fully recovered. The situation with coronavirus is rapidly evolving outside of the United States. Local, state and federal officials are monitoring, investigating, tracking down and isolating any suspected cases. We will continue to communicate with King County residents about their risk for coronavirus as the situation evolves. Currently, the health risk for COVID-19 in the United States is considered low to the general public and to Washingtonians.”