Weed Elementary School: COVID-19 exposures force weeklong closure

Skye Kinkade
Mount Shasta Herald

Weed Elementary School has been forced to close its campus for the next week due to an outbreak of COVID-19, and students are being asked to quarantine for 10 days.

Superintendent/principal Jon Ray said Friday afternoon that the school will transition to independent study: Students who don't develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 can return to school Sept. 7.

Ray said the increase in local COVID cases "hit our entire school" this week. "The potential of exposure is too great at each of our grade levels to safely quarantine just a few," he said.

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Siskiyou County is experiencing a wave of COVID-19 cases, according to data released by the Siskiyou County Public Health Department. As of Friday afternoon, there were 250 active cases in the county and 14 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms.

Nationally, child cases have more than quadrupled in the past month, rising from 38,000 cases during the week that ended July 22, to 180,000 during the week that ended Aug. 19, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, reaching levels not seen since the 2020-2021 winter surge.

Children represent more than 22% of weekly reported COVID-19 cases and up to 3.6% of hospitalizations, the academy reported. 

'We must continue to work together'

WES has prided itself on remaining open for in-person instruction throughout the pandemic. Ray said it's a priority of the Weed Union Elementary School board to ensure schools are open because it's important to the community.

While most other schools in Siskiyou County went to online learning models last school year, WES kept its doors open with few disruptions due to the pandemic. Just once were they forced to close: the school extended its Thanksgiving break in 2020 due to an outbreak in the community. 

More:Weed Elementary poised to emerge from pandemic with higher enrollment, new campus, more staff

Ray said it's "vital" that families take appropriate measures to not expose others to COVID-19. "We must continue to work together for all of our sake," he said in a letter that went home to families on Friday. "We have taken great pride in knowing that we have no community spread at WES. We will need to take immediate measures to ensure our community that we are part of the solution, not the problem."

What COVID-19 symptoms parents should look for

Parents should look for the following COVID-19 symptoms, which may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Isolation is 10 days from the beginning of symptoms or positive test and 24 hours fever free without any fever reducing medications and resolution of symptoms, according to Ray's letter. Once this time has been met the child can go back to school.

USA Today's Christal Hayes and Ryan W. Miller contributed to this report.

Skye Kinkade is the editor of the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers and the Siskiyou Daily News. She is a fourth generation, lifelong Siskiyou County resident.