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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  K-12 education

West Valley High School forced to return to remote learning over uptick in COVID-19 cases

UPDATED: Wed., May 5, 2021

Because of a recent increase in COVID-19 cases, all of West Valley High School’s 900 students were back at home Wednesday and learning remotely.

Barring another spike, however, they expect to be back in school on May 17 – well before the end of the school year.

Other schools in the district are unaffected.

According to the latest dashboard posted Friday, the district had 23 positive cases in the previous 14 days. Additional cases were reported on Monday, forcing a consultation with the Spokane Regional Health District that led to an immediate retreat to distance learning.

West Valley High School accounted for most of the numbers – 13 positive cases and 168 people in quarantine.

It’s unclear why the school was hit so hard.

“The kids have been doing a great job wearing masks and walking on the right side of the hall,” said Vicky Leifer, assistant superintendent at West Valley School District. “But the community numbers are higher than they’ve been, and of course kids hang out with each other after school.

“I guess we’ve just been unlucky.”

In a letter sent Tuesday to families, the district said that “over the past two days, we had an additional 5 positive cases which would require us to close 30 classes resulting in the quarantine of roughly 500 students.”

The letter continued: “Working closely with the Spokane Regional Health District, we were advised to go into remote learning for 10 days at WVHS only.”

No in-person school activities will be allowed until May 15.

It’s unclear how many, if any, of the cases were the result of in-school transmission.

“We are continuing to work with Spokane Regional Health District as our data is reviewed to determine if in-school transmission occurred at West Valley High School,” Leifer said in an email.

Cheney High School has reported 16 positive cases in the past 14 days, resulting in 140 people in quarantine.

In a statement, Superintendent Robert Roettger said that “Cheney HS will remain open, but additional testing and quarantine measures are required in certain circumstances and when there are additional positive cases within a two-week period.”

COVID-19 numbers are also up sharply in the Mead School District, with 35 positive cases and 489 people quarantined in the past 10 days.

Central Valley has 62 cases and 209 quarantines in the past 14 days, while Spokane Public Schools’ dashboard from Friday showed 17 cases and 218 quarantined.

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