Franklin High School students stage sick-out to demand better COVID safety precautions

Jan 14, 2022, 5:25 AM
Franklin High School sick out...
Franklin High School in Seattle's Mount Baker neighborhood. (Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons)
(Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons)

Students at Seattle’s Franklin High School are planning a sick-out on Friday, claiming that COVID measures are not being adequately enforced amid rising case numbers.

COVID cases in Seattle schools skyrocket, as cancellations, remote learning shifts mount

Over the first week of winter term, Franklin High School had the most reported COVID cases of any school in the district with 89. That led to classes being abruptly canceled on Monday and Tuesday, a decision that came down so late that some students reported being turned away at the door the day-of. The school announced its decision to roll back to remote learning through the end of the week, but students remain concerned about returning to an environment they say is unsafe.

“Whenever we’re in the halls, we’re shoulder to shoulder,” Mia, the junior class vice president, told KIRO Newsradio. “There’s not enough COVID regulation being monitored in this school. It’s just uncomfortable and dangerous. ”

“We really do feel like the school isn’t concerned for our health and safety,” sophomore Pearl agreed.

The sick-out Friday is the students’ way of demanding stronger COVID regulations, including the use of N95 masks, the implementation of weekly COVID testing, and adequate social distancing.

Puget Sound schools feel strain of omicron surge

They say this is less about pushing to go remote full-time, and more about being able to keep students safe while in classrooms, hallways, and congregate areas.

“The only alternative isn’t going back online — we don’t have to do that if we can stay safe in the building,” junior class president Jocelyn noted.

Franklin High School students also started an online petition laying out their demands, having already gathered over 600 signatures.

Seattle Public Schools officials declined to comment directly on the sick-out, instead pointing to the district’s existing protocols, and noting that it has “placed top priority on properly and thoroughly responding to sometimes rapidly evolving conditions.”

The district conducted preliminary COVID-19 testing for two days before classes resumed in January, identifying 588 positive cases out of just over 14,000 students and staff members who chose to be tested. In the first week of classes after winter break, between Jan. 1-7, over 800 additional cases were identified, nearly eight times the previous record for cases in a single week dating back to August 2021.

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Franklin High School students stage sick-out to demand better COVID safety precautions