Gov. Jay Inslee has directed the closure of all public and private K-12 schools for the next six weeks in hard-hit King, Snohomish and Pierce counties to help minimize COVID-19 exposure.
This decision, which Inslee announced Thursday afternoon at a press conference in Olympia, affects 43 school districts throughout the three counties, including the Auburn School District, which will close its schools after classes on Friday, March 13.
“We do not take these decisions lightly and I am fully aware of the various impacts this has on families and communities,” Inslee said. “Today’s decision has a full range of implications from learning plans and childcare, to free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch, just to name a few. I anticipate this will cause ripple effects throughout our state. But we can’t afford not to do it. We must ensure that we slow the spread of this virus.”
Shortly after Inslee spoke, Auburn School District Superintent Alan Spicciati broke the news to parents in a posting on the district’s website.
“We have kept our schools open as long as possible, as recommended by state and local public health authorities,” Spicciati began. “We know that in addition to education, schools provide vital support to our communities and that closure will have a major impact on our families. We understand that this plan will create hardship for many families and we appreciate your patience and cooperation.
“Students will bring home some learning materials and all personal items while schools are closed,” Spicciati continued. “Our educators will speak with students tomorrow about this closure. We will be offering educational resources that are not meant to be a substitute for classroom instruction but will help students practice their skills and learn independently during the closure. We are still designing these options and will send you an update next week.”
Spicciati said the district is finalizing plans to support families during this closure in the following ways:
• By providing meals to students starting Monday, March 16;
• By providing resources for continued learning while schools are closed.
“The Governor has asked all school districts to strategize options for childcare for healthcare workers and first responders during our closure,” Spicciati wrote. “School and district staff will work Monday and Tuesday to finalize plans during the closure. We know there will be many questions – we will give you more information in the coming days.
“I want to express my appreciation for the support of the Auburn community as we work through the daily challenges the coronavirus has presented us,” Spicciati said.
The ASD will continue to send updates with information and resources via email, text messages, phone calls, the website and social media channels.
Also, all Muckleshoot Tribal Education programs will be closed March 13th through April 24th, with the exception of the Muckleshoot Child Development Center, which will operate with a modified closure, according to a statement released by the tribe late Thursday afternoon.