Students are back in classrooms at Wing Luke Elementary
Seattle Public School students were back in classrooms Wednesday. Schools are open for full-time, in-person learning for the first time in more than a year.
At Wing Luke Elementary, kids lined up outside the building to avoid gathering indoors. A table with masks and hand sanitizer stood in front of the entrance to the school, along with a sign about how to protect one another form Covid-19.
Mohamed Krubally is in 5th grade and said he was excited to be back, to see his friends, and his teachers.
“It feels kind of different as well,” he said, referring to the distancing and masking policies in place to protect students.
Mohamed’s mom, Nimao Mohamed, said she’s also excited for kids to be back in the classroom environment. She said Covid initially made her nervous about her son going back to in-person learning, but the vaccines and access to testing have made her feel more comfortable.
She said she also is proud of how the school is handling safety.
Trunt Lu stood outside with his daughter Sophia, a 4th grader. Trunt said he’s happy his daughter is back at school and hopes she’ll be able to learn more in-person than she was able to remotely.
But he said he’s also a bit anxious.
“Some [of the kids], they don’t keep their masks on all the time when they’re playing,” he said. “I’m a little bit concerned about that.”
The highest risk time of the day in schools will be lunch time, when kids are taking masks down to eat and drink.
Lunch will be handled slightly differently at schools across the district.
At Wing Luke Elementary, it will be outside when weather permits. If weather gets bad, lunch will happen in the cafeteria or gymnasium, preferably with doors open to increase ventilation. The school buildings are new and able to accommodate a range of lunch setups, so parents are advised to send their kids with jackets and rain coats.
“On light, misty days we will still be outside,” said principal Carol Mendoza.
A petition has been started urging the district to support outdoor lunches at all schools. It noted that some schools don't have the space or resources to provide outdoor lunch on their own.
Mendoza said kids at Wing Luke Elementary will sit six feet apart and will face the same direction, instead of facing each other. They’ll also be expected to mask up between bites.
“We’ll see how that goes, especially with our youngest learners. We’re going to welcome three year olds here in a week,” Mendoza said. “But we will be teaching appropriate mask wearing,” she said.
There will be six lunch periods over the span of two hours to maintain grade level cohorts, Mendoza said.
None of the students at Wing Luke Elementary are old enough to get the Covid-19 vaccine. A vaccine will likely be available for younger kids in the coming months.
Waiting to enter school on the first day back, nine and a half year old Toney Davis said he wasn’t feeling particularly excited or nervous.
“I’m just ready,” he said.