British Columbia

All public schools in Seattle closed for at least 2 weeks amid coronavirus fears

All public schools in Seattle, Washington are closed for at least 14 days starting on Thursday because of the spread of the novel coronavirus.

A few B.C. schools have closed early for spring break out of an abundance of caution

All public schools in Seattle will be closed starting Thursday, March 12 for at least two weeks. (CBC)

All public schools in Seattle, Washington are closed for at least 14 days starting on Thursday because of the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The school board's office of public affairs sent a letter to parents on Wednesday, informing them of the next-day closures. 

"We are facing an unprecedented health crisis in our community," the letter states.  "The decision to close the district was extremely difficult."

All school day instruction, child care, health services and other school programs are cancelled until further notice. 

"This necessary action is an effective way to disrupt widespread infection," the letter states. 

"We are working with partners and the city to determine how to best mitigate the impact closing schools will have on working families."

The World Health Organization updated the outbreak to pandemic status on Wednesday as case numbers top 118,000 in 114 countries. In the United States, there are more than 1,000 confirmed cases — many of them in Washington state, where a Seattle-area nursing home was the centre of an outbreak. 

A staff member in the Seattle school district was confirmed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, earlier this week.

In Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee has prohibited gatherings of more than 250 people in the Seattle area, which has experienced the most COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. 

The Golden State Warriors' game against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night will be played without fans in the arena, and the Mariners are moving their home games out of Seattle for the rest of March in an effort to slow the coronavirus outbreak.

The Port of Seattle announced Wednesday that it has cancelled the first two planned sailings of the Seattle 2020 cruise season.

B.C. schools

A handful of schools in B.C. have closed early for spring break out of an abundance of caution after community members, including a parent, tested positive for COVID-19.

Those schools include Coast Meridian Elementary School in Surrey, the Catholic elementary school St. Francis of Assisi in Vancouver and a private high school linked to that elementary school, Notre Dame Regional Secondary School. 

A private West Vancouver school also disbanded four days early for spring break after learning one of its families was in close contact with a patient with COVID-19. Collingwood School says Vancouver Coastal Health has told the school the risk is "limited" and they don't believe the family has been infected.

The Victoria private school, Glenlyon-Norfolk School, has also closed early for spring break. 

Over the weekend, the Surrey School District was informed that two people who had been inside two different schools, Sullivan Heights Secondary and Serpentine Elementary, were diagnosed with COVID-19 but were not in direct contact with students. 

The schools received a "deep clean" as a precaution, but the district stressed the risk is low.

With files from The Canadian Press

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