‘Not a surprise’: Longview, Kelso students have COVID

Education

Longview postponed hybrid learning for a second time

LONGVIEW, Wash. (KOIN) — After two brothers tested positive for the coronavirus, the Longview School District said two teachers and 20 students are now in a 14-day quarantine and postponed hybrid learning for older students for a second time.

The school district announced Monday the brothers tested positive. On Thursday, a Kelso High School student also tested positive.

Many parents are ready for their kids to go back to the classroom for in-person instruction. But Robert Rondinelli, whose son is an 8th-grader in Longview, said he thinks it’s too soon to bring students back.

“My first reaction (to the news of the students’ positive test) was, like, wow, and that’s not surprise, you know, with all the crazy stuff that’s going on with people just not staying home and those two brothers, that school is just down the street here from my house,” Rondinelli told KOIN 6 News. “So my first thought was yeah, we’re not leaving, we’re not going anywhere.”

Rondinelli said the distance learning is working well for his son but knows that isn’t the case for all.

“There are kids over there that are sitting online in class and instead of doing what they’re doing and paying attention, they’re over there sitting on their bed playing video games with headphones on,” he said.

He also thinks the distance learning is keeping his son safe as COVID cases continue to skyrocket.

“For us, it’s fine. I would rather have him home anyway. I don’t feel that it’s a good time for any of the kids to be in school. You know, it seems to be getting worse as we go.”

The Kelso School District said their student tested positive through what is considered a school-based exposure. That is, they believe the student got the virus at school.

Right now, K-8 and 12th-grade students are doing hybrid learning. The Kelso district said no closures were necessary and wouldn’t confirm how many people have been asked to quarantine.

The Longview superintendent was unavailable for an interview. Officials with Longview said they couldn’t discuss too much because of privacy laws. But they did issue a statement.

“What we can tell you is the district has a team of people working closely with the Cowlitz County Health Department following up on possible COVID cases,” officials told KOIN 6 News. “When a positive COVID case has impacted one of our schools, the district has worked closely with the county health department throughout the process and health department approved notification has been sent to all families with students in the school. For additional transparency, the district will be publishing a web page with COVID case information today.”

The Kelso superintendent declined an interview request from KOIN 6 News.

On October 20, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee put new rules for higher education institutions into place, including no congregant sleeping areas, like sleeping porches, in Greek Life housing and mask wearing at all times except inside dorm rooms.

Washington State Department of Health officials said data pointed to widespread disease transmission ahead of a “fall surge,” instead of localized outbreaks.

“A surge in cases right now could have very serious consequences for our healthcare system, local plans to open schools, the state’s economic recovery, and beyond,” officials said in a press release at that time.

Then on Thursday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was joined by his wife Trudi to plead Washingtonians to avoid large Thanksgiving gatherings.

“We’re only going to have to do this once,” Inslee said, citing recent reports that a COVID vaccine will be widely available by Thanksgiving 2021.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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