Over a two-week period ending on Jan. 7, the Mercer Island School District (MISD) reported that it had 202 confirmed COVID-19 cases among its elementary school, middle school and high school students and office workers.
Mercer Island High School (MIHS) had 96 cases and Islander Middle School (IMS) had 43 cases. In elementaries, Island Park had 18, Lakeridge had 17, West Mercer had 14 and Northwood/Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) had 13. One worker in the district’s central office tested positive for the virus.
Also included on a school district chart released on Jan. 7 was the total number of COVID cases transmitted during athletic activity from Aug. 23, 2021 to the present: 20 at MIHS and three at IMS.
The total number of COVID cases reported from Aug. 23, 2021 to the present is 279 amongst the schools: MIHS (126), IMS (53), Island Park (30), Northwood/ECSE (26), Lakeridge (22) and West Mercer (22).
In an online message to MISD families posted on Jan. 7, Superintendent Donna Colosky said: “We ask that you do not send your child to school if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, have tested positive or have been identified as a close contact and are not fully vaccinated. In these instances, keep your child at home and contact the school nurse for further instructions.”
Colosky said that since the virus transmission hasn’t been linked to class activities and hasn’t been categorized as an outbreak, MISD is required to offer full-time and in-person learning at this juncture.
“This was articulated in the Washington State Department of Health guidance and confirmed by State Superintendent, Chris Reykdal,” said Colosky, adding that her team was reviewing Public Health – Seattle & King County’s new isolation and quarantine guidance for K-12 schools with a Jan. 10 target date to begin implementing changes.
During the uptick in Omicron variant cases, Colosky said that for students’ safety and prioritization of in-person learning, the district will reinforce proper wearing of face coverings, proper ventilation flow, maintaining physical distancing as much as possible, and staying home if students and staffers are symptomatic or feeling unwell.
On the athletic front, attendance at upcoming events will be limited and the Jan. 7 home boys and girls basketball games against Bellevue were held to 25% capacity. In an abundance of caution, the district will also cancel, postpone or delay field trips and extracurricular activities.
Rapid antigen testing will continue for symptomatic students and staff members who are unable to secure one in the community, and in-school close contacts. Costco and MISD will hold a vaccination clinic for 5-12-year-olds (first dose) and 12-18-year-olds (boosters) on Jan. 22, and Costco will return to administer second doses and additional boosters on Feb. 12.
Parent volunteers are needed for the clinics, which will take place at Northwood Elementary, 4030 86th Ave. SE. The three shifts are from 7:30-10:15 a.m., 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and noon to 2:30 p.m. For information, visit https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20F0C48AEA822A6FF2-misd1.
Colosky closed out her letter by noting, “We are very fortunate to have a dedicated staff that are doing their absolute best every day.”