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Northshore School District mom pushes for at least ‘a choice’ of in-person learning

A view of an empty hallway at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 just prior the 2020/2121 school year on Aug.17, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

A mom in the Northshore School District is among the families pushing the district to let kids in the building and reopen, at least partially, for in-person learning.

“We’ve actually been talking with the district since October, hoping that they would see that there are many ways to get kids connected to their schools, out of their houses, out of their bedrooms, and near friends,” Karli Geller said. “… Since October, we’ve come up with ideas and just aren’t being heard, and we’re not understanding why. So since then, we’ve continued to talk with them.”

Families recently held a car rally called “Honk to be Heard” in an effort to make noise and let the kids express themselves.

“We wanted to stay COVID safe and keep people in their car,’ Geller said. “And that way, many people could be involved and express their frustration at the situation and hypocrisy.”

The hypocrisy Geller speaks of is that many high school kids in particular are out working in the community, but yet are not allowed into the school building.

“Our high school kids in particular are not allowed in their buildings, and they’re huge buildings,” she said. “And the problem with that is, yes, we are asking them to go to Fred Meyer and bag our groceries, and at Starbucks, making our coffees, and cleaning bathrooms at McDonalds. And so, while we want to use them in our society, at our convenience, we’re not letting them into their own schools where they will be safe and follow protocol that they need to, to keep everyone safe.”

Gov. Inslee: Asking educators to return isn’t ‘asking more than we’ve asked for our grocery clerks’

Geller says they’re not asking for regular school, but explains that they have a vision of something like an internet café, where a common area that would normally seat 400 students could easily house 50 kids with their computers, doing online learning.

“Rather than think about remote learning, I’d love connected learning,” she said. “I’d love together learning, on their computer.”

The frustrating thing, Geller explains, is that they’ve heard nothing from the district.

“We would love answers as to why this can’t be done. We’ve heard nothing,” she said. “We hear ‘word will be coming in a few days.’ ‘We are following health and safety protocols.’ But really, they aren’t. We know what the governor has said, we know what the health districts have said, we see other school districts near us that are opening, and spending a lot of energy to care for their kids. Other districts have kids first in mind, and we see that in messages that they’re sending to their communities.”

“And we hear absolutely nothing about our kids and the tragic circumstances they are in,” she added.

Again speaking mostly to high school students, Geller says the kids are in desperate circumstanes and that levels of depression are “astronomically high.”

“We hear daily from our own friends, like just connected to us, of students who have committed suicide,” she said. “I just was speaking with a teacher the other day who, at their own church, has had seven funerals since September of high school students. And yet our district loves to say this is all working. Nothing is working.”

Geller says they’re really just asking for a choice.

“I think the district needs to say, ‘teachers, we have a plan and here are our safety measures, and come back to the building.’ And from what I’ve heard and the couple districts I am associated with, the numbers have worked out where let’s say 75% of the kids want to come back, which leaves spaces for remote learning, and the way the teachers have kind of expressed their interest, the balance has been there to support the choice. And that’s what we’re asking. Could we have a choice, please?”

The Northshore School District provided the following statement when contacted by KIRO Radio: “Unfortunately, some misinformation was shared in our community, but we recognize that this is a time of frustration for some community members. We appreciate all feedback and will continue to work together to focus on a safe reopening for our students, staff, and families.”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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