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Schools adjust after cases of COVID-19

Staff Writer | October 8, 2021 1:05 AM

EPHRATA — A surge in COVID-19 cases in Grant and Adams counties required local school officials to make some adjustments, returning to a distance-learning format for quarantined classrooms or an entire building. But in-person classes have started again in most of those districts, or will start soon.

All Wilson Creek students went to distance learning Sept. 27. District Superintendent Laura Christian said Thursday schools will go back to in-person learning Monday.

Four students had been exposed, Christian said, two in two classes each. Then the Wilson Creek High School volleyball team was exposed, two teachers and a few more students.

Once the proportion of students and staff exposed to the disease reached 10% of the school population, Grant County Health District officials recommended returning to distance learning, which school officials did.

“It’s been a wild start to the year,” Christian said. “But we should be fine coming back on Monday.”

Othello High School went to online learning Sept. 20, and district officials announced at the time that distance learning would continue through Oct. 1. Students went back to OHS on a half-day schedule Oct. 4.

Ed Petersen, the district’s director of communications, said the original plan was to conduct half-day classes until Oct. 18. But OHS students will return to all-day classes Monday.

“With new testing abilities in place, we feel confident that we are well-equipped to respond quickly as new cases come up,” Petersen wrote in response to emailed questions from the Herald.

Ephrata School District officials started distance learning at Grant Elementary School Sept. 30. Students are to return Monday. District Superintendent Tim Payne wrote in an email Wednesday that’s still the plan. Only Grant Elementary had to start distance learning for the entire building.

“We have some students and staff doing remote, depending on the circumstances,” Payne wrote in response to emailed questions from the Herald.

Quincy School District Superintendent John Boyd said QSD has been able to avoid distance-learning for entire schools.

“We’ve had no full schools quarantined,” he said. “Knock on wood.”

Individual classes at four elementary schools have been quarantined at four of QSD’s elementary schools. That included students in two classes at George Elementary School, two classes at Ancient Lakes Elementary School, two classes at Pioneer Elementary School and one class at Monument Elementary School. Five of those classes have gone back to meeting in person, Boyd said. The two classes at Pioneer will resume in-person instruction Oct. 13.

Wahluke School District Superintendent Andy Harlow and Royal School District Superintendent Roger Trail said to date, no closures have been necessary in their districts.

“We’re OK for now,” Harlow said.

Moses Lake and Soap Lake school districts officials didn’t respond to requests for information.