Aki Kurose Middle School closed on Friday and will transition to online learning next week after a student tested positive for measles, a highly contagious disease characterized by rashes, fevers and other potentially serious symptoms.
The Hillman City school is closed Friday so teachers can prepare for online learning, which begins Tuesday and lasts through June 2. Personal lessons will resume the following Monday.
Seattle Public Schools Culinary Services will have boxes of food available for students to pick up starting Tuesday, the district said.
Measles is highly contagious and people who lack immunity can contract the disease from being in the same room with an infected person, the district’s report said. The message also warned that anyone exposed to the measles who has no immunity should stay home.
Officials in Seattle and King County alerted the public over the weekend that a child had been diagnosed with measles. May 12 may have been exposed.
On May 13, everyone could have been exposed at Pike Place Market from 3:45 to 6:45 p.m. or at World Market on Western Avenue from 4:15 to 6:45 p.m. On May 15, those of HopeCentral, a clinic on South Othello Street, may have been exposed from 2 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.
It was not immediately clear whether the student who became infected is the same child public health officials named over the weekend or whether that child had been vaccinated.
Public health officials urged people who may have been exposed to find out if they received the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which protects against measles, or if they have been previously infected, which may provide immunity against the disease . Before visiting a clinic or hospital, people who develop an unexplained rash or fever should call and explain that they may have been exposed to measles.
Lawmakers tightened vaccination requirements for public school students in 2020 following a major measles outbreak in southwest Washington in 2019. Families can no longer claim a personal or philosophical exemption from the MMR vaccine. And students must now show paperwork proving they received a list of injections and boosters, including the combined tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis vaccine (Tdap), as well as vaccines for chickenpox, hepatitis B, polio, and measles, mumps, and rubella.
In early 2020, before the pandemic began, Seattle Public Schools went so far as to exclude students who did not have full vaccination records. As of the 2021-2022 school year, approximately 92% of King County public school students were up to date on their vaccines; in Seattle, that number was 93%, county data suggests.
Symptoms usually begin seven to 21 days after coming into contact with someone who is infected; the disease spreads through the air and can remain airborne for up to two hours after the infected person leaves the area.
People at the highest risk of complications include infants and children under age 5, adults age 20 and older, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems.
The province has information on its website about measles symptoms, where to get vaccinations and the vaccination regulations for schools and childcare.
Information from the archives of The Seattle Times is included in this story.