Local school district plans for possibility of remote learning in January due to Omicron

Just as K-12 students and staff begin to settle into winter break, the largest school district in the state shared that remote learning could be on the horizon in January due to the Omicron variant.

The Seattle Public Schools Coronavirus Update said in part: 

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading quickly, and we at SPS are tracking public health here in Seattle. Though we don’t know the full impact that Omicron will have on our schools and community, we want to share our current thinking with you. View the SPS COVID-19 data dashboard.

Our plan is to reopen schools as scheduled on Monday, January 3.

That said, we are also preparing for the possibility that some classrooms, and perhaps some schools, will have to go remote at some point in January.

Uncertainty at any time is challenging, but no more so than now, after the stress and anxiety of the last several weeks. We are sharing this information with you now so you can be as ready as possible should your child need to switch to remote learning.

SPS to continue in-person learning, but are closely watching omicron variant

Despite growing concerns of the omicron variant, Seattle Public Schools will still continue with in-person learning—for now.

"Benjamin, my son, was vaccinated with his two shots in June. He currently doesn’t qualify for a booster, so I’m concerned about his safety given how Omicron spreads," said Janet Crisp, a parent in SPS. "Based on what we already know about how this variant spreads, we should use that as a way to be proactive and preventative, rather than waiting for kids to get sick."

FOX 13 News reached out to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to ask if students will return to remote learning. 

The Executive Director of Communications Katy Payne said, "Our schools are safe, and our mitigation measures (masks, vaccinations, cleaning/disinfecting, distancing, etc.) work. The in-person learning environment is the best environment for most students, and it is our continued expectation that schools provide all students with the opportunity to learn in-person full-time, with the exception of a temporary shift to remote learning at the direction of a public health officer."

SPS is recommending a COVID test before students return to school on January 3, so that "the school communities stay as healthy as possible."

Local health officials are advising families to plan ahead for needs like testing or proof of vaccination. Test results may take a little longer give increased demand around the holidays and lab results could take up to three days, according to the Snohomish Health District.

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