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Eatonville Middle School switches to remote learning after COVID-19 outbreak

Students will return to remote learning starting Monday, Sept. 27. A tentative reopening date for the school is Oct. 11.

EATONVILLE, Wash. — Eatonville Middle School will switch to remote learning starting Monday, Sept. 27 due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the school, according to the Eatonville School District. 

The school was closed Friday and all after-school athletics and activities were canceled.

The tentative date for students to return is Oct. 11, but the district will consult with the health department on reopening.

An Eatonville School District spokesperson told KING 5 Friday the criteria for closing schools, according to the county's health department, include a rapid increase of cases, COVID-related absenteeism greater than 10% of the student population, or multiple cases that are "epidemiologically" linked.

The spokesperson said at Eatonville Middle School, more than 10% of the 394 students were impacted, either with positive COVID-19 tests or by having to quarantine. The spokesperson also said there was a rapid increase in cases in several classrooms. 

The situation was enough to bring Ashley Boman, mother of eighth grader Alyssa, to tears when they picked up Alyssa's supplies on Friday.

"My eyes welled up," said Boman, "I feel like the kids are going to fail."

Boman said she agreed with the district's decision to shut down the campus, but felt like the move was going to put additional stress on the students and the staff.

"Hats off to the teachers," said Boman.

Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal said parents should not be surprised if their districts shut down schools or send large numbers of students home due to COVID-19.

Reykdal said most districts are taking steps to avoid full closures. However, he said schools are identifying cases in students and staff returning from summer vacation.

Reykdal thought the number of cases and quarantines will drop once more people, especially the youngest students, get vaccinated later this fall. Until then, parents should have plans in place for their students to return to online learning.

"This isn't the long duration thing we saw last year, but it is going to keep popping up in communities that maybe a whole classroom, maybe a whole building might have to quarantine," said Reykdal.

RELATED: Back-to-school resource guide: How districts will handle COVID-19 safety

According to the Washington State Department of Health, similar to county health departments, a COVID-19 outbreak is considered when the following have been met: 

  • There are two or more cases among students or staff
  • The cases have a symptom onset or positive test result within a 14-day period of each other
  • The cases are epidemiologically linked
  • The cases do not share a household
  • The cases are not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during the investigation

Parents are asked to monitor their children for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, cough, headaches, body aches, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.