By Steve Powell
Parents are in a panic – not necessarily over the coronavirus, but because their kids will be off of school starting Friday the 13th for six weeks – until April 24.
Marysville, Arlington and Lakewood, along with all other schools in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, will close for a mandatory six weeks, per Gov. Jay Inslee’s instructions Thursday afternoon.
Lakewood already had planned to close that long, but Marysville had decided on four weeks, and Arlington was planning to meet Thursday night to decide.
Inslee, responding to the public health emergency, said Wednesday that school closures could come soon. School districts didn’t wait. Once Seattle schools said they were closing for two weeks others followed.
Inslee banned sporting events, concerts, festivals and other gatherings of 250 or more in the three counties
Marysville superintendent Jason Thompson says in a letter to parents that schools need to close to slow the spread of COVID-19. Schools were open Thursday to give families a little time to plan for child care.
The closures includes all all school building activities, instruction, preschool, health services, enrichment and athletic programs. Employees will still be paid.
The district plans to offer food service, much like what is done during summer months.
As for graduation, state testing, instructional hours, etc., Thompson’s letter says Inslee has the power to change such expectations in such an emergency.
Thompson assured the community the decision was not made lightly.
“Schools in our community serve a dual function. We are an educational service certainly, but we are also a fundamental social service providing care and comfort in uncertain times. Our work is important, and this decision weighs heavy on all of us,” his letter says.
In a letter to the Lakewood community, superintendent Scott Peacock says that district is following Snohomish County Health District and Department of Health recommendations.
Staff should treat the next few days like snow days, Peacock says.
“We know closing our schools will impact our most vulnerable families,” he says in the letter. “We recognize that working families depend on the consistency and predictability of support and services our schools offer. We are finalizing plans to support our families during the closure and will communicate those over the next several days.”
Marysville Getchell High School, and Pinewood and Sunnyside elementary schools were closed March 6 due to coronavirus fears. A community member reported positive for the COVID-19 virus. The person may have come into contact with students from those three schools.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we will be closing the schools for disinfecting” March 6, Thompson says in a letter sent out last Thursday night. District crews disinfected the campuses, which reopened Monday. Attendance was down at some schools much of the week.