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caption: Students at Hamilton International Middle School on March 11, 2020.
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Students at Hamilton International Middle School on March 11, 2020.
Credit: Juan Pablo Chiquiza/KUOW News

Seattle families organize to feed, care for students during COVID-19 school closures

Parents in the Seattle area are quickly organizing to support each other during mandatory school closures, aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus.

Here's what’s currently in place and what’s still in the works.

Boys & Girls Club of King County will provide child care at nine locations around the Seattle metro area.

The organization has the ability to host 1,500 to 1,800 children on average each day, according to Laurie Black, president and CEO.

Families with memberships currently pay a $50 monthly fee and then $25 per day per child. For teens, there is no additional daily fee. Scholarships are available.

Staff at the Boys & Girls Club are taking health precautions and limiting the number of children to keep with the states new guidelines on large groups. They are implementing stricter cleaning schedules and using temporal thermometers to screen staff and children before they enter the space.

Child Care Aware of Washington State is also helping families find licensed child care providers in a pinch. They have a free, online tool here.

On the internet, groups are buzzing with activity as parents build virtual communities in response to the impact of the outbreak.

A group called Seattle Help for Parents & Caregivers During Covid-19 Outbreak was started on March 11, the day Seattle Public Schools announced a minimum two-week closure.

Since the creation of the group, with 1600 members as of Thursday afternoon, all public and private K-12 schools in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties have been ordered to close for six weeks.

READ: Seattle area K-12 schools ordered to close through April amid COVID-19 outbreak

Local attorney and mom Gretchen Hoog helped start the group. While her work can be done remotely, her husband works as a nurse at Virginia Mason. Witnessing that contrast first hand of who can work from home versus who can’t, she got started building a network for local families to help each other out during this outbreak.

“So far, it’s mostly offers to help,” Hoog said. People are offering to buy and drive groceries to families in need, they’re sharing free lunch locations, and childcare options.

But Hoog admits, “There’s people who can get by one or two days in a crisis, but it’s gonna get harder and harder.”

Another group called “SPS COVID 19 school closure parent survival page” has around 1,500 members.

Back in the physical world, community organizers like LaShanna Williams are also finding ways to feed students.

Williams is hosting a community breakfast at the coffee shop Resistencia in South Park on Friday, March 13. And she plans to keep it going Monday to Friday the following week, to make sure no one goes hungry during school closures.

She also started a GoFundMe called "Concord Families Rent Assistance" for families of Concord International Elementary in South Park. It’s a school that’s 50% Hispanic and Latino.

Williams writes: “With schools closing, decreased wages and hours, many families are experiencing severe financial impacts. Our goal as a community is to create a rent support fund to assist during this time, and help keep [folks] in their home.”

This page will be updated as more events and resources arise.

Have a tip or want to share your experience during the coronavirus outbreak? Reach out by emailing or texting our reporter Esmy Jimenez at esmy@kuow.org or (206) 565-7902 (Signal).