Students planning to return to school buildings in Anacortes next week will have to wait — probably until January.

Anacortes is joining other school districts in Skagit County in pulling back from in-person learning in response to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the county.

Students in fourth and fifth grades will no longer return to school buildings Monday as planned. That won’t affect students in kindergarten to third grade, who started back in person this week. They will continue their hybrid in-person and remote model.

The Concrete and Burlington-Edison school districts also this week announced delays to the return to in-person learning.

The Anacortes district based its delay for older students on guidance from the county’s Department of Health, according to a news release.

Right now, the county is at 89 cases per 100,000 people over the past 14 days, according to the district. That number needs to drop below 75 to move toward the next stage of reopening, the release states.

“We have strict safety and sanitizing procedures in place for the students who are currently receiving in-person instruction,” Superintendent Justin Irish said in the release. “This decision is made out of an abundance of caution in order to limit the number of staff and students on our campuses.”

With this delay, it is unlikely that any students beyond third grade will return to in-person learning before January.

“I know this is disappointing news to our staff, students, and families, who have been looking forward to welcoming more students back into our buildings, especially after such a successful return of our youngest learners,” Irish said in the release. “I urge everyone to remain vigilant against the virus: wear a mask, get a flu shot, limit in-person social interactions, wash your hands.”

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