Pine Tree Elementary School. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

Pine Tree Elementary School. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

Pine Tree Elementary in Kent closed this week due to COVID-19

Multiple cases, increased absences among students and staff lead to closure

The Kent School District has closed Pine Tree Elementary to in-person learning Jan. 18-21 due to multiple COVID-19 cases.

“Due to multiple confirmed COVID-19 cases in our school community and increased student and staff absences from Jan. 10-14, our school will be moving to remote instruction from Jan. 18-21,” according to a statement on the school’s website.

Pine Tree Elementary, 27825 118th Ave. SE, is the first school in the district to close due to COVID-19 during the 2021-2022 school year.

There is no school Monday due to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. There will be no school Tuesday or Wednesday at Pine Tree as teachers transition to live remote instruction. Remote instruction begins on Thursday, Jan. 20, according to school officials.

The district closed two classrooms last week at Soos Creek Elementary, one classroom at Ridgewood Elementary and one classroom at Meridian Elementary. Most of those classes are scheduled to return Jan. 24 to in-person learning from remote instruction.

The district on Jan. 12 posted a classroom closure at Kent Elementary, with a scheduled return of Jan. 18.

The district does not release the grade of the class or the number of students impacted. District officials announced Jan. 11 that if possible, they plan to keep in-person learning going at schools despite the recent outbreak in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant across King County, the state and nation.

“Our priority is to keep schools open as long as we can provide staff to operate in-person learning safely,” according to the district’s statement. “We will continue to follow public health guidance, track positive cases, close classrooms working with Public Health (Public Health – Seattle & King County) and minimize the spread of COVID in our schools by following strict COVID safety protocols while supporting student learning and well-being. Students benefit from in-person learning.”

The district has the following policy for closure of a classroom after consultation with Public Health – Seattle & King County will be considered when:

• Three or more students or staff in the same room/area test positive for COVID-19

• The cases have symptoms that start within 14 days of each other

• The cases are not associated with one another in another setting (household, club, etc.)

If a full class needs to quarantine or a school is directed to temporarily close in response to COVID-19 transmission, then:

• Staff and families will be notified by phone, letter, and/or email of the classroom closure

• Students will shift to the 100% remote model used during the 2020-21 school year

• Schedules will mirror current 2021-22 in-person schedules

• Teachers will have two days to transition to synchronous remote learning, and learning will begin online fully by the third day for impacted classrooms

• Classroom closures will typically last 5-10 days

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