Stanwood-Camano schools close as infections spread north

There were many other school closures, too. The city of Everett, meanwhile, canceled events and programs.

EVERETT — The city began canceling programs and more Snohomish County schools closed this week as the outbreak of the new coronavirus spread north to counties outside the Seattle metropolitan area.

Following an earlier emergency declaration, the city of Everett announced it “is assessing and canceling/postponing some large city-sponsored events, programs and gatherings,” including programs at the Everett Public Library and in park facilities through March 31. The cancelations include all board and commission meetings, according to the announcement, posted on the city website.

And anyone showing signs of illness is barred from entering courtrooms at Snohomish County Superior Court or the Denney Juvenile Justice Center in Everett. Presiding Superior Court Judge Bruce Weiss signed the emergency order Tuesday. Only matters of “an emergent nature” will be heard on judges’ civil motion calendar and the court commissioner calendar. Anyone barred from the courtroom, or anyone with a health issue that puts them at high risk if infected by COVID-19, should contact the judge’s law clerk to make arrangements.

In Snohomish County, the cumulative list of infection cases grew Tuesday to 60, with 55 other people awaiting test results. Another 60 people have tested negative since the outbreak began in January, the Snohomish Health District said.

Among 267 confirmed cases statewide as of Tuesday afternoon, infections were reported for the first time in Island, Jefferson, Skagit and Whatcom counties, according to the Washington State Department of Health. In all, 24 people have died in Washington. King County remains the hardest hit, with 190 confirmed cases and 22 deaths, most of them related to the Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland.

Gov. Jay Inslee was scheduled to appear Wednesday at a news conference in Seattle at which he was expected announce new restrictions on public gatherings.

More school closures

Among school closings, the Stanwood-Camano School District shut down for the rest of the week “so that we can assess the evolving situation in our community,” the district said in a news release Tuesday. Earlier in the day, three cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, were reported at the Josephine Caring Community in Stanwood. More tests of residents and staff there were pending.

“We know there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our community and that more individuals have been tested,” the school district said. “We have not received contact from the health districts notifying us of confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 by students or staff in the Stanwood-Camano School District.” the district wrote. But as a precaution, “All school activities and athletic practices and competitions are cancelled.” About 4,400 students are enrolled there.

Two schools in the Mukilteo district and one in Everett were closed Tuesday due to COVID-19 positive test results.

Mariner High School was closed Tuesday because a close contact of a staff member tested positive. It was the third time since last week that Mariner closed for that reason. The first case involved the parent of a Mariner student. The adult died March 2 and is the only known Snohomish County death from COVID-19.

“The Mariner close contact was not related to either of the other cases,” Mukilteo School District spokeswoman Diane Bradford said. The Mariner staff member has not been showing any symptoms, according to a letter sent by the district.

Challenger Elementary in south Everett was closed Tuesday and Wednesday after a staff member tested positive. The staff member has been absent due to illness since March 3.

“That gives us more time to clean, but also gives Snohomish Health District more time to investigate and contact with any close contacts of the person who tested positive,” Bradford said.

In the Everett School District, Woodside Elementary south of Mill Creek remained closed for a second day Tuesday after a student exhibited signs of coronavirus. The student has a parent who tested positive for the virus. The student did not attend school last week.

All Snohomish district schools were closed Tuesday after an employee who works in the transportation department tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, consensus seems to be growing that school closures are a good thing. More than 21,000 people have signed an online petition urging the Edmonds district to close all schools.

With no confirmed cases there, schools are staying open for now, spokeswoman Harmony Weinberg said last week. After-school events, though, have been cancelled until April 12.

Similar petitions for the Everett and Mukilteo districts have combined for nearly 10,000 signatures.

The Northshore School District, which serves areas of south Snohomish County, closed all schools Thursday and moved to online learning for two weeks.

Herald writers Andrea Brown, Chuck Taylor, Stephanie Davey, Joey Thompson and Caleb Hutton contributed.

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