Dean of Students Jeff Latta (center) helps a student through their online health questionnaire while Athletic Director Cassie Snell (left) checks a student’s temperature before the start of class at Archbishop Murphy on Tuesday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Dean of Students Jeff Latta (center) helps a student through their online health questionnaire while Athletic Director Cassie Snell (left) checks a student’s temperature before the start of class at Archbishop Murphy on Tuesday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Purchase Photo

Everett-area high school starts bringing some students back

Archbishop Murphy High School has welcomed freshmen and sophomores back to campus, in small numbers.

EVERETT — A private high school in Everett is slowly bringing some students back for in-person classes.

Administrators at Archbishop Murphy High School are breaking up each grade into four cohorts, which each spend one day on campus per week, Monday through Thursday.

On Sept. 28, about 20 freshman arrived for in-person instruction. The next day, another cohort got to experience classroom learning for the first time as high schoolers. Starting this week, groups of sophomores will spend a day in class for the first time since March.

“It went really well,” Principal Alicia Mitchell said. “We’re following all the guidelines.”

Before students can get inside, they must fill out an online health screening form and pass a temperature check. Once in the classroom, they wear masks and sit six feet apart from other students, following instruction on laptops.

Administrators started with freshman and the sophomore class — which includes a number of transfer students — to get them better acquainted with the campus, Mitchell said.

It’s unclear when cohorts of juniors and seniors will resume in-person learning.

“We would love to have them back,” she said. “But we also want to do it safely.”

Local health officer Dr. Chris Spitters talks with county school leaders every two weeks. Although COVID case counts have started to rise, after a long period of decline, his guidelines for schools haven’t changed.

Snohomish County is still in the moderate-risk category for school reopenings, according to the state. Under state guidelines, that designation advises phasing elementary students back to school with a hybrid schedule.

Some public school districts — Monroe, Stanwood-Camano, Sultan and Arlington — have either brought, or plan to bring elementary students back for in-person learning.

But private schools have repeatedly said their smaller student populations make it easier for them to safely resume in-person instruction.

In total, Archbishop Murphy has about 460 students — far fewer than any of the nearby public high schools.

Mitchell, who used to teach at the public Lake Washington High School, said issues like hallway crowding would be a major hurdle for larger schools.

“I don’t know how they’d pull it off,” she said.

High schoolers also pose a greater risk of transmission because they tend to have larger social circles than younger students.

“We try to talk about that to them all the time,” Mitchell said. “Just because we’re starting to come back in some capacity doesn’t mean there still isn’t a virus out there.”

Public health experts have long said that as schools reopen, COVID cases on campus are inevitable.

At Archbishop Murphy, students who become symptomatic will be sent to an isolation room where they can be safely sent home.

“That’s adjacent to my office so I can supervise,” Mitchell said. “We also have additional (personal protective equipment) for anyone who may need to interact with a potentially sick student or staff member.”

Students also have the option of continuing with remote learning. Mitchell estimated that about 88% of students have opted to come back to class.

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Paul McElhany points out how far the new building will extend past the current building at Northwest Fisheries Science Center's Mukilteo Research Station on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 in Mukilteo, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Oh, crab! NOAA’s Mukilteo waterfront fish lab won’t be rebuilt

Bids for a new Northwest Fisheries Science Center research station are too high. Are condos next?

Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney during an interview at the sheriff’s department June 17, 2020. (Sue Misao / The Herald)
Auditor denies Fortney recall group the extra time it seeks

He said he could extend the deadline for signature gathering if ordered by a court or the Governor.

Austin Johnson, 26 years-old, trains on the Centennial Trail in Lake Stevens and is planning to do a 24-hour run to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
24 hours, 80 miles, $23k raised for mental health

Austin Johnson completes a 24-hour run along the Centennial Trail to raise money for suicide prevention.

A pre-loaded syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine sits on the table for the next person in line during a vaccine clinic as South Pointe Assisted Living on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish County to receive its largest shipment of vaccines

Even as case counts drop, researchers are finding a growing number of COVID variants in the state.

Everett man identified after being found dead in creek

The cause of death for Renee Baltazar Romero remained under investigation Thursday.

Everett man found dead in creek near Lake Stevens

The man, 28, was reported missing Thursday. A neighbor found his body in Little Pilchuck Creek.

Autopsy shows Lake Stevens woman, 20, drowned Saturday

Anna M. Lopez was swimming when witnesses noticed she was not responsive, according to officials.

Joe Hempel swims off of the shore of Seawall Park on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021 in Langley, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Scantily clad is the dress code for these cold rush swimmers

Immersed for 30 minutes in frigid water would kill most of us. It energizes these swimmers.

Missing Lynnwood girl found, man she was with arrested

The man, 32, is being investigated for harboring a minor and second-degree child molestation.

Most Read