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Pierce County middle school to return to remote learning after spike in COVID-19 cases

News Tribune, Tacoma, Wash. logoNews Tribune, Tacoma, Wash. 10/23/2021 Allison Needles, The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

Oct. 23—Liberty Middle School in Spanaway is moving to remote learning due to a spike of COVID-19 cases, according to a letter to families sent Friday by Bethel School District superintendent Tom Seigel.

All staff and students at Liberty will switch to remote learning starting Monday, Oct. 25 through Friday, Oct. 29, 2021.

"We hope to return to in-person learning at Liberty Middle School on Monday, Nov. 1," Seigel said in the letter. "Liberty Middle School families will be receiving additional information regarding remote learning schedules soon. If students do not have their iPads at home, please contact the main office 253-800-6500 to set up a time to pick it up."

In the last seven days, there were 24 COVID cases at the school, according to Seigel. Of 850 enrolled students, 228 students and staff have been identified as close contacts in the outbreak.

The district made the decision after consulting with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

"The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department strongly recommends and supports the decision to move Liberty Middle School to remote learning next week to help slow the transmission of COVID-19," Seigel said in the letter.

Close contacts have been told to quarantine and should not go to other activities or child care.

Seigel said students and staff not notified as being a close contact do not need to quarantine but should seek testing and monitor for symptoms. The health department is recommending all Liberty Middle School students seek testing for COVID-19 and to notify the school if they test positive.

"Our staff's experience with remote learning last year will be called upon again as we make this brief adjustment out of caution," Seigel said. "Though this disruption to in-person learning is not welcome, it was certainly not unexpected. Even though our staff and students are following the mask and social distancing guidance from the health department, COVID-19 and its many variants are a reality we must continue to face together. I remain a proponent of getting vaccinated against COVID-19 if you are able. We appreciate your understanding as we do everything we can to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff."

Liberty is not the first Pierce County school to move to remote learning due to COVID-19 cases. In September, Eatonville Middle School moved to remote learning due to a spike in cases.

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