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Kirkland students' petition urges school district to cancel classes amid coronavirus concerns

King Co. health officials said schools should only close if a student or employee tests positive for coronavirus.

KIRKLAND, Wash. — Students in Kirkland want to know why their district is not canceling classes, as others are. They started a petition, which had more than 17,000 signatures on Wednesday, urging the Lake Washington School District to close temporarily.

“I was like, wow, people really do care about this, and they don't just want to get out of school,” said Michael Finlayson, an 8th grader at Kamiakin Middle School, who started the petition.

“We do not write this petition to get out of our schoolwork,” the petition reads. “We expect our teacher to provide us with assignments at home, and we resolve to work hard to complete those assignments while school is closed.”

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Finlayson said he and his classmates are concerned they might spread the virus and carry it home to family members, some of whom are in fragile health.

Finlayson’s mom, Tania, has cerebral palsy, and her son said he worries she is especially vulnerable.

“I am so proud of Michael and his friends for trying so hard to prevent a terrible situation from becoming increasingly worse,” Tania Finlayson said.

Lake Washington School District declined an opportunity to comment on-camera. The district said there have been no confirmed coronavirus cases in its schools.

"We are working closely with the Department of Health. At this time, they are not recommending our schools for closure,” the district said in a statement.

King County health officials said schools should only close if a student or employee tests positive for coronavirus.

“Children have not been shown to be a high-risk group,” said Patty Hayes, director of Public Health — Seattle and King County.

With an outbreak centered so close to home, Finlayson said he doesn’t want to take any chances.

“I know that people are concerned about it, and I want to help ease that concern among our community,” he said.

Lake Washington School District said it plans to share more information on Thursday about possibly suspending volunteer and extracurricular activities.

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