100,000+ public school students told to stay home as coronavirus threat spreads

SEATTLE -- The viral outbreak has forced the closures of more than half a dozen public school districts across Western Washington, including some of Puget Sound’s largest like Seattle Public Schools.

Some districts say campuses will only be closed for a couple weeks, others will close for as many as six weeks.

Here are the latest school closures in western Washington 

Not to mention the teachers, bus drivers and staff, at least 100,000 public school students across Puget Sound are now being told to stay home.

“In times of great need our students have stepped up before,” said Seattle School Board President Zachery DeWolf.

School districts across the region are reacting to Gov. Jay Inslee’s measure to limit public gatherings of 250 or more people. The decision has no doubt left parents scrambling to figure out what to do with their kids.

“While the impact isn’t fully known, this is the best decisions we can make on public health guidance and to mitigate future risks to our communities,” said DeWolf.

That risk is coronavirus and closing classrooms could be a way to stop its spread.

“Two weeks right now is unprecedented for this district,” said Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau. “We’ll learn a lot of lessons as these two weeks continues, and anything longer than that was forecasted today, we’ll have to take it day by day.”

Tens of thousands of students from districts across Puget Sound are now homebound.

In Monroe, the closure could last six weeks. In Seattle, so far it’s only two.

Officials there say students will take home some assignments and seniors will be allowed to work towards finishing studies required to graduate. The district is also figuring out a way to keep bus drivers, teachers, assistants and others on the payroll to help families pay bills.

“If we shut down it will have such an economic effect on this city, particularly students of color,” said Juneau. “Our plan calls on us to be supportive of us, of families that have to go to work to pay rent and put food on the table, that’s why this decision was so difficult to make.”

SPS officials said during a press conference Wednesday the closure will likely be required to be made up, but exactly when has not yet been released publicly.