Since returning from winter break, Highline Public Schools has experienced high absence rates among staff and students, due to the recent spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19.

“We are grateful to our amazing staff in our schools who are pulling together to keep our schools operating,” the district said.

Washington state schools Superintendent Chris Reykdal warned last week that many schools may have to close.

“It is our No. 1 priority to keep the school(s) in-person,” Reykdal said. “Although we’re really challenged with omicron.”

Around 42% of students are fully vaccinated in the state, with 90 percent of teachers vaccinated as well.

Highline officials anticipate that absences will remain high over the next couple of weeks, but say their priority is to “keep schools open as long as we can provide staff to operate safely.”

Public health, medical and civic leaders across the nation are urging schools to stay open for the well-being of students and their families.

“We have a plan to meet the challenges of the next few weeks so we can keep our schools open for in-person learning. This includes deploying central office staff to schools as needed.”

The district says that as they have since the beginning of the pandemic, they will track positive cases and close classrooms or schools if necessary, working with Public Health – Seattle & King County.

“We have a solid track record of minimizing the spread by following safety protocols,” the district said. “We have added protection with high vaccination rates among our staff and community.

“Working together, we can keep our students and staff in schools safely. We are Highline.”

And apparently, if staff is short, others can step up, like when outgoing Superintendent Susan Enfield served as a substitute science teacher on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022:

Founder/Publisher/Editor. Three-time National Emmy Award winning Writer (“Bill Nye the Science Guy”), Director, Producer, Journalist and more...