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Lake Washington High School temporarily shifts to remote learning due to staffing shortages

Staffing shortages are linked to COVID-19-related quarantines, general illness and a lack of substitute teachers.

KIRKLAND, Wash. — "Substantial" staffing shortages have led to Lake Washington High School students temporarily shifting to remote learning.

The staffing shortages are the results of COVID-19-related quarantines, general illness and "other absences," according to Lake Washington School District Superintendent Jon Holmen. 

Students will be remote learning from Jan. 10-18. 

Students return to the classroom Jan. 19.

The decision was not dictated by the health department, according to Holmen. It was made by the district due to "our inability to safely operate school as a result of so many staff being absent and the number of unfilled sub positions," a message from Holmen reads. 

The move to remote learning will allow the school to continue daily instruction while staff complete quarantine requirements, according to the message.

"Over the last week, both Lake Washington High School and Central Office staff have gone above and beyond to fill uncovered administrative, classroom and supervisory positions," the message states. "We are at a point where there are more absences than we can cover which has caused us to make this decision. As I have said, our goal has been to keep our schools open for in-person learning with the knowledge that we may need to close a school. I greatly appreciate your understanding as we navigate the current situation."

Washington is seeing a sharp rise in daily COVID case counts. As of Jan. 1, the state is reporting a seven-day average of 6,483 daily COVID-19 cases and a seven-day average of 141 daily COVID-19 hospitalizations. 62.8% of the state's population is considered fully vaccinated, also as of Jan. 1.

King County is seeing record daily cases, with a seven-day average of 2,477 cases as of Jan. 1. Hospitalizations in the county have also been on a steep rise with a seven-day average of more than 26 daily COVID-19 admissions as of Dec. 31.

Meanwhile, school districts across western Washington continue to deal with an educator shortage. The impacts of a lack of substitute teachers have already been felt this school year, with some districts offering better pay.

In November, ahead of Veterans Day, the Lake Washington School District reassigned certified staff from programs and support divisions to classrooms to make up for a shortage of substitutes. Some central office administrators also helped provide coverage to schools. Schools in Bellevue, Kent and Seattle were closed due to a large number of staff on leave during the extended weekend.