Hundreds of students in a Snohomish County school will switch to remote learning Wednesday after 26 students tested positive for coronavirus in the last 10 days, forcing the school to shut down.  

Madrona K-8 School, in the Edmonds School District, was closed to students on Tuesday. Teachers were given one day to prep for the transition to remote learning, said Harmony Weinberg, a district spokesperson. 

Most employees were working at the school after the building was cleaned Tuesday morning, and teachers will be teaching students virtually out of their classrooms starting Wednesday, school officials said. There are about 90 employees.

The district is planning to reopen the school to in-person learning on Nov. 1. Madrona is the first school in the district to close due to the virus, Weinberg said. 

“We’ve done this before so families … are familiar with the process,” Weinberg said. “We’ve been preparing and knew that this could be a possibility as we started the school year. We have plans in place.”

Every student has a Chromebook and will be doing a mixture of live instruction through Zoom and independent learning, Weinberg said. Students have also been given work sheets, workbooks and projects.

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The Snohomish Health District recommended Madrona close because of “sustained COVID transmission” in the school, health officials said in an emailed statement. Officials won’t release any more information about the investigation citing “protected health information.”

There are four things to consider when deciding whether to shut down a school, according to guidance from the Washington State Department of Health: whether the school has a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, whether there is evidence of transmission in the classroom, whether the transmission occurring in the school is prolonged, and whether the school cannot function because of lack of teaching or support staff. 

Before the closure, 236 out of 591 enrolled students at the school were sent home because of classroom closures, according to its website. Out of the 236 students sent home, 135 were quarantined because they were in close contact with someone who tested positive. 

People considered close contacts should stay quarantined until instructed, and not go to child care, county health officials said. Those who aren’t quarantined should monitor for coronavirus symptoms and get tested.

From Oct. 3 to Oct. 9, there have been 77 COVID-19 outbreaks in K-12 schools across the state, according to an outbreak report by the Washington State Department of Health. There have been five outbreaks reported in child care and pre-K facilities. 

As of last week, 192 positive COVID-19 cases have been reported in the Edmonds School District since the beginning of the school year, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard

There’s no statewide dashboard summarizing the number of cases in the state’s nearly 300 school districts, but in the greater Seattle area, most districts have not reported a significant increase in cases since the school year started in early September. According to the dashboards kept by individual districts:

  • Seattle has had 127 cases over the last two weeks that ended Friday — 71 cases between Oct. 2 and Oct. 8, and 56 cases between Oct. 9 and Oct. 15. In general, its cases have remained steady since school opened. The highest case count was between Sept. 11 and Sept. 17, about two weeks after school started, when 90 cases were recorded.
  • Lake Washington has recorded 45 new positive student cases, and 12 positive staff cases in the last 14 days.
  • Northshore has had 54 positive cases in the last two weeks, and its numbers appear to be dropping after a spike in late September. As of Tuesday, it had 346 students and staff quarantined, down from a high on Sept. 30 when 507 were quarantined.
  • Bellevue’s dashboard shows two students with confirmed COVID-19 cases on Oct. 17. It has not seen any significant spikes in cases since school started.

Due to an editing error, this story originally gave an erroneous figure for the number of cases the Northshore School District reported on Oct. 19.