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

School COVID-19 cases jump as students return from break and omicron arrives

The Spokane Public Schools building downtown is shown.  (JESSE TINSLEY)

Schools across Spokane are reporting sharply higher COVID-19 numbers this week as students returned from Christmas break and the omicron variant washes into the region.

At Spokane Public Schools, the number of students and staff who had confirmed COVID cases and entered a school building stood at 58 from Monday through Thursday, according to its public dashboard posted Friday evening.

That dashboard showed 411 students and staff were in quarantine this week and not allowed to attend school.

That number is the highest since mid-November.

The district did not respond to requests Friday afternoon for student absentee numbers, which were much higher as many students stayed home Thursday and Friday because of the weather, triggering school administrators to delay the start of classes by two hours and cancel after-school activities.

Central Valley reported 204 confirmed cases of COVID among its students and staff in the previous 14 days; that’s up from 44 on Dec. 10.

At Mead School District, 235 students and staff have tested positive in the last 10 days, according to data posted Friday night. The district had 45 cases as of Dec. 10.

Of the 411 people reported in quarantine at Spokane Public Schools, 105 are at high schools, with 27 at Rogers and 22 at Ferris.

Seven elementary schools – Arlington, Holmes, Indian Trail, Moran Prairie, Regal, Whitman and Woodridge – each had at least 10 students in quarantine.

Most districts haven’t updated their dashboards since the holiday break. They include West Valley, East Valley, Deer Park, Riverside, Post Falls, Nine Mile Falls, Freeman and Liberty.

State Schools Superintendent Chris Reykdal said Friday that families should brace for the possibility of school closures as the wave of COVID-19 cases and quarantines is compounded with staff shortages and winter weather.

He said such closure decisions would be made at the local level rather than by state officials.