The Enumclaw School District closed Kibler Elementary for 10 days, taking precautions after five staff members tested positive for COVID-19. Photo by Kevin Hanson

The Enumclaw School District closed Kibler Elementary for 10 days, taking precautions after five staff members tested positive for COVID-19. Photo by Kevin Hanson

Kibler Elementary closed due to COVID cases, district watching case counts

The school won’t reopen until Feb. 1 due to five staff members coming down with COVID-19.

With five staff members having tested positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day window, the Enumclaw School District has deemed Kibler Elementary School temporarily off-limits.

The single-story, brick building had been hosting students in kindergarten through second grade on a hybrid model, but those youngsters have returned to 100 percent remote learning. Kids will be at home until Feb. 1, giving the district the opportunity to deep-clean Kibler and oversee necessary contact tracing.

Details were spelled out in a letter that was distributed to Kibler parents and guardians last Friday, Jan. 22. The text of that letter also spells out the planned return of elementary students in third through fifth grades who had anticipated returning to Kibler this week. The complete text of the letter immediately follows (capitalization is the district’s).

“Dear Kibler Elementary Families,

“Byron Kibler Elementary currently has five staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period.

“AT THIS TIME ZERO ‘CLOSE CONTACTS’ DUE TO CONTACT WITHIN THE BUILDING HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED AND THE SOURCE OF THESE CASES REMAINS INCONCLUSIVE. POSITIVE INDIVIDUALS HAVE BEEN CONTACTED AND PROVIDED INFORMATION AND RECOMMENDATIONS RELATED TO THEIR QUARANTINE PERIOD.

“You generally need to be in close contact with a sick person to get infected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definition of close contact is ‘someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection).’

“IN COLLABORATION WITH OUR LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT, AND OUT OF AN ABUNDANCE OF CAUTION, THE DISTRICT WILL CLOSE KIBLER ELEMENTARY, STARTING JANUARY 22, 2021, FOR A TEN-DAY PERIOD. KIBLER WILL RESUME IN-PERSON LEARNING ON FEBRUARY 1, 2021. GRADES 3-5 AT KIBLER ELEMENTARY WILL BEGIN IN-PERSON LEARNING IN THE HYBRID MODEL ON FEBRUARY 1, 2021. THIS CLOSURE WILL ALLOW US TIME TO PROPERLY DISINFECT THE BUILDING AND MAKE CERTAIN WE HAVE CORRECTLY CONTACT-TRACED ALL CASES AND IDENTIFY THE POTENTIAL SOURCE OF TRANSMISSION. DURING THIS TIME, REMOTE LEARNING WILL CONTINUE.

“If your student attends the Kibler campus for special services or other small group instruction they will not be allowed on campus during the closure and may receive services via zoom or by other remote methods. Teachers and/or Specialists will reach out to families with more detailed information.

“Affected areas will be closed off, cleaned and disinfected following CDC and Washington State Department of Health guidance.

“Closure decisions such as these are made based on individual situations and in partnership with our local health authorities after following proper protocols and contact tracing.

“What you can do: Continue to physical distance, wear facial coverings, and wash hands.

“We will continue to monitor this situation closely and provide updates as needed. If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (cough, fever, shortness of breath) please isolate yourselves and contact your healthcare provider immediately. If you have any questions, please contact your school principal.

“For more information, you may refer to our website: https://www.enumclaw.wednet.edu/district-departments/health-services/covid-19-updates or the Washington State Department of Health “What to do if you were potentially exposed to someone with confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19)” document, available online at: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/COVIDexposed.pdf

DISTRICT IS WATCHING ITS NUMBERS

With more students about to return to classrooms, the Enumclaw School District continues to keep a close eye on its COVID-19 numbers.

Currently, the district has youngsters attending the Birth To Five Center for in-person instruction while students in kindergarten through second grade are in a hybrid model, splitting time between schools buildings and at-home learning.

About to transition from remote learning are the district’s secondary students, those at Enumclaw Middle School, Thunder Mountain Middle School and at Enumclaw High. They will be heading back to school buildings Feb. 1.

The plan for returning students to school buildings – on a part-time basis, at least – comes as a Pierce County study notes there is little connection between in-school learning and the spread of the coronavirus. (See separate story in this edition on page 11.)

According to the most recent posting on the Enumclaw School District website, there had been nine confirmed COVID cases involving district students and staff during a two-week window that closed Jan. 21. Of the three students, two were at Sunrise Elementary and one was at the high school; of the six staff members, five were at Kibler Elementary and one was a Westwood Elementary.

The district also keeps tabs on “anyone who has been within 6 feet of a person infected with COVID-19 for a combined total of 15 minutes or more within a 24-hour period.” Those are defined as “close contacts” who are now in quarantine. Information posted on the 21st showed seven from Sunrise Elementary and one from Black Diamond; among staff members in quarantine, there was one from Kibler and two from Westwood.

Here’s some additional information posted by the district.

WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT MYSELF AND MY FAMILY?

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, with 60 percent alcohol, if soap and water are not available.

Cough into a tissue or your elbow (not your hand), then throw tissue away and wash your hands.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid contact with people who are sick.

Stay home when you are sick.

Keep students home if they are running a temperature or they report not feeling well or appear weak or ill.

Consult your health care provider if you or your child has health conditions that put you at increased risk.

HOW SHOULD I STAY INFORMED?

For the most up-to-date information, visit the Public Health Seattle & King County website and sign up for email alerts from their agency. The District continues to follow the guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Public Health Seattle & King County in our response to COVID-19, including decisions to close schools and whether students or staff would need to be quarantined.

Enumclaw School District will provide updates on any changes directed from King County Public Health. Updates will be communicated below and via email. Please ensure that email contact information is up-to-date on your Family Access Account in Skyward at http://eaplus.enumclaw.wa-k12.net/. Please contact Jamie Franz at 360-802-7121 if you are having difficulty updating your information.

For the most up-to-date information, visit the Public Health Seattle & King County website and sign up for email alerts from their agency.

GENERAL INFORMATION FROM PUBLIC HEALTH

If you are in King County and believe you were exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, contact the King County Novel Coronavirus Call Center: 206-477-3977.

The call center will be open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (Pacific Time)

For general concerns and questions about COVID-19, please call the Washington State Novel Coronavirus Call Center at 800-525-0127

WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL EVALUATION AND ADVICE

If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, call your health care provider. Do not go to the emergency room. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs.

If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

HOW THE PUBLIC CAN HELP

Do not go to the emergency room unless essential. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs. If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, contact your regular doctor first.

Stay home when sick.

Practice excellent personal hygiene habits, including handwashing, coughing into tissue or elbow, avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth.

Here are tips on good handwashing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vs6yH64cVVc&feature=youtu.be

Stay away from people who are ill, especially if you are 60 and older or have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or a weakened immune system.


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