CONNELL, Wash.-- The 2019-2020 school year is coming to screeching halt starting Tuesday, March 17, for students and staff at the North Franklin School District in Connell, as they state attempts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Like every other school district in the state, NFSD will close its doors starting Tuesday in according with Gov. Jay Inslee's announcement on Friday.

Classes will continue as usual Monday for students at Connell Elementary, Basin City Elementary, Mesa Elementary, Olds Junior High, Connell Junior High, Palouse Junction High School, and Connell High School.

This closure includes the cancellation of all out-of-district transportation, events, athletic practices, field trips, competitions and any other events that had been scheduled to take place at North Franklin School District facilities.

Schools will be open regular hours through at least Tuesday, March 17 to allow staff, parents, and students to collect personal items and medications as needed while schools are closed. Staff are expected to report to work as usual for the time being, and will be notified if this changes.

"Our goal is to reduce the negative impacts to students and families as much as possible," said Superintendent Jim Jacobs in a letter to parents. "We will get through this, and we will do it by taking care of each other, treating each other with kindness and compassion, and holding together as a community."

According to the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, schools will be required to make up as many hours of lost instruction as possible once school resumes, however, the school year may not extend beyond June 19, 2020.

District officials say they may be asked by the state or the health department to extend the closure period, and the administration will let families know as soon as possible if that happens.

Last week, NFSD officials notified families that a Mesa Elementary School teacher had self-quarantined and but was not tested for COVID-19 after starting to exhibit flu-like symptoms following a trip to the west side of the state. The district has not provided any update about the status of the teacher, but did disinfect the school as a precaution after consulting with the Benton-Franklin Health District.

So far, the NFSD has not provided information about any nutritional services distribution during the six weeks that the schools are closed, but will provide updates on the district website and social media pages.

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