The move — which was “not necessary,” according to public health officials with Seattle and King County — was taken out of “an abundance of caution,” the school district’s superintendent said, even though the staff member was not the person being tested for coronavirus.
“While today, our support services staff have been taking initial steps to disinfect the areas where the staff member traveled on the campus,” Superintendent Michelle Reid said in a letter to families, “we need more time to fully and completely disinfect the entire school as a preventive measure.”
According to Reid’s letter, the staff member returned to work Monday after a week traveling abroad. The staffer said a family member he or she was traveling with fell ill Tuesday and was taken to the hospital, the letter said. The family member is being “treated, monitored and quarantined,” the letter said.
“At this time, there is no confirmation that the family member’s illness is connected to the coronavirus outbreak,” Reid’s letter said, “but out of an abundance of caution, the family member is being tested.”
The letter emphasized that the staff member was not the person test for the coronavirus. The school district is reaching out to families of students who might have had contact with the staff member, the letter said.
“These steps are being taken out of an abundance of caution,” Reid said.
School closure ‘not necessary,’ health officials say
“Though this closure is not necessary from a public health point of view, we know that school districts act out of extra special caution when they are protecting children,” health officials said in a news release. “And the school knows its community best and is in charge of making decisions about the school.”
The current risk of coronavirus to Washingtonians remains low, the news release said.
“My gut reaction was, wow, this is really starting to affect our area now, not only our country but locally — our area,” she said. “I knew it was something that could happen but never thought it would be something at my daughter’s school.”
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters Tuesday she called her own children’s school district to find out what would happen in the event schools needed to close.
If “sustained transmission” is seen in the US, the report said, health officials will implement other strategies for prevention. Strategies like “staying home when ill and practicing respiratory and hand hygiene will become increasingly important,” the report said.
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