MOSES LAKE, Wash. — The Moses Lake School District addressed rumors on Wednesday that positive coronavirus cases among students and staff are connected to a "super-spreader" wedding in the Ritzville area.
Nearly 40 COVID-19 cases had been connected to the wedding that more than 300 people attended as of Tuesday, Nov. 17. Grant County Health District said it is working with a long-term care facility and a school district due to direct links through wedding attendance or secondary cases due to contact with those at the wedding, but did not address either by name.
KREM reached out to the Moses Lake School District following an anonymous tip claiming that the closure of Sage Point Elementary School for in-person learning was related to the wedding.
Claren McLaughlin, a spokesperson for MLSD, said the district is "watching the developments closely in cooperation with the Grant County Health District."
Sage Point is transitioning to distance learning and will be closed for two weeks effective Tuesday, Nov. 17, according to an update posted on the MLSD website. In-person learning is scheduled to resume on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
The decision to close the school was based on five positive coronavirus tests — three students and two staff — on the same day across three different cohorts of students, McLaughlin said.
"While there are a great number of rumors related to the connection to a wedding, we respect the privacy of our students, staff, and their families. HIPAA laws protect the identity of our students and staff in this matter," a statement from McLaughlin reads in part.
Dr. Joshua Meek, who serves as Moses Lake School District Superintendent, was recently diagnosed with COVID-19, McLaughlin confirmed. His entire family was impacted, including his wife and three sons, she said.
"This has nothing to do with any wedding or any such rumor. In fact, their family situation was through close contact with a personal family friend," McLaughlin added.
In a prepared statement, Dr. Meek wrote, "We must remain focused on strong preventative measures to practice good protocols, safe practices, and making sound choices. Our entire district is working hard to keep learning as the center of our purpose during these times. Our community, like many places, continues to struggle with this virus and our response. As a silent virus, nobody should assume anything."