All Washington State schools K-12 closed.
These words have echoed through my mind for the past few weeks. Sure, I’m definitely sad I can’t go to class and see my professors and classmates face-to-face. But imagine how much worse it is for younger students who are in school nearly all day, every day and depend on services such as after-school and before school programs.
School closed? For six weeks or more? Where will these children go?
I can honestly say that this brought tears to my eyes and kept me wide awake on the night of March 13.
As a kid, school was everything to me. I was the girl who was ready for school and hour beforehand and sat at my kitchen table organizing my backpack, anxiously waiting for the school bus to pick me up.
I thrived in a classroom environment because I felt safe, warm, full and welcome to be myself. While I realize many people did not have the same feeling I did, there are students whose only safe environment or opportunity to have a meal are when they go to school.
Both Seattle Public Schools and Spokane Public Schools have announced plans to lessen the negative effects these closures will have on families and students.
Among these plans are providing “to-go” meals for students to pick up and take home to eat.
Some students were also sent home with curriculum packets of worksheets which teachers had just a few days in some cases to prepare.
According to Seattle Public Schools, 28.5% of students receive free or reduced lunch.
About 57% of Spokane Public School (SPS) students receive free and reduced lunch according to a statement Superintendent Shelley Redinger made on March 13.
Surely many students will be impacted by the closure.
As a student myself, I am disheartened by my Gonzaga’s closure. I will miss the daily interactions I had with the students in my classes, the rich discussion in my political science classes and most of all the enriching and enlightening conversations with professors. Luckily, we will be continuing online.
But how do you continue classes for elementary schools? While some schools are providing learning online through Google Classroom or via email to parents, there will be some students who fall through the loophole, unfortunately.
According to the SPS Website, the district is providing laptops to families who apply to check them out, and can supply one device per student, which are supplied based on need and availability along with mobile hotspots for families without internet.
Further, according to SPS, any child under the age of 18 can stop by any of the 24 meal distribution sites Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to noon, to pick up a breakfast and lunch pack.
The work the school district, volunteers, local businesses and teachers are doing during this time will make the difference in so many students’ lives.
Being from Spokane, the work SPS is doing does not surprise me. The Spokane Community has a special way of coming together and supporting one another during difficult times.
This will be both a test for teachers, school districts and parents.
The level of learning and school environment are irreplaceable — no matter the level of schooling.
Parents who cannot afford child care or to take time off from work will be put in impossible situations.
More than that, in extreme cases, children will be isolated from the only place they feel safe — school.
As far as the class of 2020 high school seniors, Spokane Public Schools says it is currently discussing graduation ceremonies, prom, credits and diplomas and hope to have answers for you in coming days.