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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Schools across Spokane County report dozens of COVID-19 cases while working to keep kids in class

The Spokane Public Schools administration building is pictured.  (JESSE TINSLEY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

COVID-19 followed more than 160 students and staff back to dozens of schools during the first days of classes this year across Spokane County.

In its first report of the new year issued Friday, Spokane Public Schools recorded 50 positive cases of coronavirus, resulting in the quarantining of 296 students and staff.

None of the cases was the result of in-school contact, Superintendent Adam Swinyard said during a Zoom news conference Friday afternoon.

The overall numbers are “reflective of what we’re seeing around the community,” he said, noting that the district has about 30,000 students and 5,000 staff.

Masking and social distancing are required at schools as teachers, nurses, parents, students and staff work to lessen the spread of disease and keep their schools open and as safe as possible.

Meanwhile, a major spike in COVID cases forced Medical Lake High School to go online only. The district of 1,750 students has reported 27 positive tests in the past two weeks.

Central Valley School District reported 61 cases in the past two weeks.

Mead School District has had 26 since school began Tuesday.

The smaller school districts in Spokane County have not posted COVID-19 numbers.

In Coeur d’Alene, the school district reported 33 new cases this week.

Cases and quarantines in Spokane were spread across the city in about 25 schools.

At Bemiss Elementary School, for example, one positive case resulted in 13 people being quarantined. At Hutton Elementary, six cases led to 12 people quarantined. At Shadle Park High School, five people tested positive and 11 were quarantined.

While some districts update their dashboards daily, Swinyard said that Spokane’s size makes that impractical.

“It’s important to have accurate information,” Swinyard said.

In letters sent to families this week, the district repeated its pledge from last year to follow “all safety precautions and requirements outlined by the Department of Health and the Spokane Regional Health District.”

“When there is a confirmed positive COVID-19 case, our contact tracing team immediately conducts an investigation to compile a list of close contacts,” the emails said.