‘He was terrified’: Mom pulls son from school, says he was locked in a room because of COVID-19 symptoms

VALLEY, Wash. — An Eastern Washington mom pulled her son from Valley School District after she says her six-year-old son was locked in a room because the school had a COVID scare.

Lexie Walsh got a call on Friday from her son’s school. The school said he was sick, so she went to go pick him up.

“Normally, when I’ve picked up my son for illness, he’s been right in the front waiting for me,” said Walsh.

When she got there he wasn’t in his normal spot. Instead, she learned he was in the gym. She didn’t see him when she first looked, but her four-year-old spotted him through a window.

She says he was in a room with other students the school thought may have COVID. Walsh says there was no teacher there, and one of the doors was locked. The only unlocked door lead outside to the main road.

“He told me that he was terrified and thought that he was put in jail for doing something wrong because they didn’t tell him why he was in there,” Walsh said.

The district says it placed six kids in its COVID isolation room. They say two kids in first and third grade came down with the virus, and their contact tracing policy indicated they needed to close the classrooms and separate the kids. Walsh’s son Gabriel told his teacher he had a stuffy nose, which is what landed him in the room. He never tested positive for Covid.

“There were periods of time where that staff member was not present,” said Ben Ferney, the Superintendent for Valley School District.

He says they know they made some mistakes and are learning from the incident.

“What we learned was we need to communicate better with our parents and with our internal staff when it comes to symptomatic students and isolation,” Ferney added.

The district also called in the Northeast Tri-County Health District to check the school’s COVID safety protocols and recommend changes.

Walsh isn’t waiting for any changes. She’s already unenrolled Gabriel and doesn’t know if she’ll be able to trust a school again.

“As a parent, that makes me wonder if he’s safe at any school. I’ve pulled him from Valley School District, and I’ll be homeschooling the rest of the year while I decide what to do because even sending him to a different school district, how can I be sure that he’s safe?” she asked.

Ferney says they are looking into disciplinary action for the staff members involved. As of now, no one’s been removed or suspended from the school.

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