To ward off COVID-19, Auburn School District cancels community and parent activities, school events

Superintendent: ‘I believe the governor will order schools to close, potentially for several weeks. We encourage you to be prepared’

Alan Spicciati

Alan Spicciati

Acting on the governor’s directive that prohibits gatherings of more than 250 people in King County, the Auburn School District has cancelled all community and parent activities, school and district events, effectively immediately.

Until further notice, the cancellations will include performances, competitions, parent conferences, meetings and all facility rentals. The district will continue before- and after-school care, student rehearsals, clubs, athletic practices and other student activities until school closures are implemented by the governor.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced the order Wednesday as public health officials issued guidance to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We must do our part,” ASD Superintendent Alan Spicciati said in a letter addressed to families. “… This is an evolving situation and there will be more communication coming on a variety of topics. Thank you for your patience during this unprecedented situation.

“The actions we are being asked to take are to slow the spread of the virus in our community and save lives. We will get through this together,” Spicciati said.

Classes remain open, for now.

After participating in a video meeting with Inslee and superintendents from King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, the governor said he “is strongly advocating” that school districts design plans for closing schools to slow the spread of the virus, Spicciati updated families in a letter late Wednesday.

Some districts in the area are closing for reasons that vary from having active COVID-19 cases in their community, staffing shortages and an agreement that increasing social distancing measures will support the community in the process, Spicciati wrote.

“That said, I believe the governor will order schools to close, potentially for several weeks. We encourage you to be prepared,” Spicciati said.

In the meantime, Spicciati said, the school district is:

• Providing access to breakfast/lunch for all students who reside in the district.

• Reviewing what services it is able to continue providing students during the school closure.

• Working on plans to support continued learning while schools are closed. Schools will not be able to replicate instruction in an online format. Students will continue to have access to online resources.

• Because the district doesn’t know how long the closure is going to be, it is preparing to insure technology is accessible. Grades 1-5: The district will check out Chromebooks and wireless access devices, if needed for access at home. Interested families should complete a form with the district. Students also can access district resources on a family computer. Grades 6-12: Students may check out wireless access devices in their school library, if needed for internet access at home.

• Seeking clarity from the state regarding course credit and state testing.

In addition, Inslee has asked schools to consider ways in which the community can support child care services for healthcare workers and first responders who cannot arrange such care.

Earlier developments

Until this week, the school district had adhered closely to recommendations from Public Health-Seattle and King County and the Center for Disease Control against school closures because of the virus.

But the district ordered its janitors and bus drivers to got busy Monday cleaning to contain the spread of the coronavirus, and kids got the day off.

Spicciati informed parents about the one-day closure before hand in an email, a posting on ASD’s Facebook page and on the district’s website, in which he also detailed what would be happening instead of classes:

• At all schools, custodians were to spend the day doing additional cleaning of high-contact surfaces;

• Bus drivers would clean all bus seats, hand railings and contact points on ASD buses; and

• All ASD administrators would meet to about the district’s current response, to listen to feedback and develop more systems to support the health and safety of our students and staff.

Along with all the guidance the ASD has put out about calling for increased handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, and maintaining excellent hygiene, Spicciati said, it was recommending that staff and students discontinue hand-shaking and high-fives, and that everyone should limit physical contact.

School resumed on Tuesday with the full contingent of events, and all students participated in instructional activities around hand-washing and respiratory hygiene.

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