Whidbey Island preschool quarantines after COVID-19 outbreak

Across the school district, 26 students and eight staff have tested positive for the virus this year.

OAK HARBOR — Oak Harbor’s Hand-in-Hand Early Learning Center will be closed for the next 14 days following an outbreak of COVID-19 among students and staff, the school district announced Monday.

In an email sent to families Monday afternoon, the school district explained that “several staff members and a couple of students” had tested positive for COVID at the Hand-in-Hand Early Learning Center and that there were “several parents” who reported that their children were displaying symptoms of the virus.

The Hand-in-Hand Early Learning Center is a public preschool for children who are 3-5 years old and qualify for special education services.

Under the guidance of Island County Public Health, the school district decided to quarantine and close the school until Oct. 12. Students in HomeConnection, the school district’s home school cooperative that shares a campus with Hand-in-Hand, will not need to quarantine.

There have been other recent cases of the virus elsewhere in the school district, according to the email. The school district has received reports that a staff member at Hillcrest Elementary, two students at Broad View Elementary and one student at Oak Harbor Elementary have all tested positive. Those considered close contacts have been notified already.

The Boys & Girls Club reported a positive case on Friday, according to the school district. The organization provides after-school programs for students and has told 20 families to quarantine.

Twenty-six students and eight staff have tested positive for the virus across the school district this school year, according to the district’s COVID dashboard. Of those, there are 14 students and six staff members who are listed as current cases. Nine classrooms, all at Hand-in-Hand, have been asked to quarantine.

Hand-in-Hand Early Learning Center has been the only reported outbreak.

Island County Public Health reports an increase in COVID cases among children. The two-week case rate for people over 18 years old is 298 per 100,000 people, but the rate for people under 18 is even higher at 346 per 100,000, according to the Sept. 24 COVID briefing.

This story originally appeared in the Whidbey News-Times, a sister publication to The Herald.

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