While many Washington schools are beginning to walk back draconian COVID restrictions on children after public outcry, some schools are doubling down on onerous regulations. Like many other area schools Queen Anne Elementary School in Seattle is forcing children as young as Kindergarten to eat meals outside.
In an email to parents, the school has thanked children that are "…bringing yoga mats and towels to sit on, and staff and I have marked off 6 ft. distances so students know their 'spots' on the basketball court.'"
When it rains, children are moved to covered areas while still sitting six feet apart to socially distance.
However, "…if the rain is 'coming down sideways' …students whose parents have completed the Eating in the Cafeteria Permission Form During Extreme Weather would be given the choice of continuing to eat under the coverings and make "the best of it," or alternatively go inside to the cafeteria.
According to the schools Extreme Weather Cafeteria Use, students will be socially distanced in their "eating spots" in the cafeteria.
The email then added, "Eating indoors will be a silent, 'focused on eating' affair, meaning that students will sit, get out their lunch, slip off mask, return mask between bites, and eat silently."
"When finished, students will put their masks back on and exit the cafeteria."
On Monday, Seattle Public Schools sent out their own email to parents, causing many to fear that a return to remote learning was inevitable. The email outlined conditions that, if met, would trigger the return. These included:
· Elementary student absence rate is approaching 50 percent consider remote instruction for up to 10 calendar days
· K-5 and K-8 schools have 50 percent of their classrooms in remote, monitor for 2 to 3 days then consider full school remote
· 10% of core group of students and staff COVID positive, consider remote instruction for up to 10 calendar days.
· An absentee rate of 40 percent of students in a secondary school, consider remote instruction for up to 10 calendar days
· 10 percent of secondary students are COVID positive across multiple classrooms, consider remote instruction for up to 10 calendar days
· 25 percent of all SPS schools are 100 percent remote, consider taking district remote
· Percent and mix of unfilled positions in a school creates unmanageable operational and/or safety risks.
· 50 percent to 100 percent school leader/Covid Site Supervisor absence due to confirmed COVID case consider remote instruction
This despite SPS boasting earlier in the email about the safety precautions they have already taken to mitigate the spread of the virus in the schools such as:
· practices universal masking and social distancing,
· mandated vaccination for SPS employees,
· enhanced air circulation, including the incorporation of hospital grade (MERV13 filters) and free- standing HEPA filters. Air circulation is monitored consistently n SPS buildings in partnership with outside consultation.
· provides on-site protected health rooms, diagnostic testing, and a COVID site supervisor; and
· offers vaccine clinics and testing options for SPS students and staff.
Lake Washington High School in Kirkland also returned to remote learning which they claim is temporary due to staffing shortages and absences. Last week, Superintendent of Public Schools for Washington Chris Reykdal said that some school districts may close over the next few weeks.
The original email outlining the restrictions for lunch time was sent in October. Parents told The Post Millennial that the practice continued until winter break. The school did not return a request for comment asking if the restrictions were still in place following the return to school after the vacation.