Federal Way mom says school district is unprepared for class to quarantine

An empty classroom in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

After kids in Washington and across the country had to learn remotely last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most schools this year are back in person. However, in many cases, if one kid in the class tests positive, the entire class has to go into quarantine.

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That happened for one third grade class with Federal Way Public Schools. The mom of a student in the class says her son cannot return to school until Sept. 29, even though he has no symptoms. She offered to get him tested and if it’s negative, asked if he could return, but she was told that was not an option.

To make matters more complicated, at first the students were sent home with just worksheets and were not offered a laptop or remote learning for the quarantine period.

“I received a phone call on Tuesday as school was ending to let me know that someone in his class had tested positive,” the mom told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show. “Therefore, he had to stay home for 14 days, as well as the entire class.”

“We were given our advice on watching for symptoms, test if we want. Even if we tested with negative, he could not come back before Sept. 29,” she added.

The district originally said that no laptops would be sent home with the kids, and there would not be a transition to remote learning, but there would be worksheets the parents could pick up.

“In March of 2020 when they first sent us home, they sent us home with worksheets,” the mom said. “And him and I did attempt, and every day ended with one of us or both of us crying because I was frustrated, he was frustrated. I’m still trying to work a full-time job, more than a full-time job, and we couldn’t do it. We gave up. We literally gave up because it was too hard.”

“He doesn’t see me as a teacher and I don’t know how to do it, I wasn’t trained to do that,” she added.

Late last week, she was told that she could come get a laptop and that prerecorded videos would be available to help the students with the work they were given to do from home.

“Just moments ago I got a text, it wasn’t from the district, however, it was from his teacher, saying that the district had changed their mind and that laptops would be available so we could watch some prerecorded help with the worksheets that are also available for pickup today,” she said.

“My understanding is that [the teacher] prerecorded some videos to help us explain the worksheets and those are available in what they call Canvas, and we can come get the laptop so we can access that — I do not have a laptop at home that he can use,” she continued.

The mom says if it had just been one kid that had to quarantine and remote learning wasn’t an option, she’d understand, but it’s a entire class.

“When an entire class has to stay home, it should just be a simple straight back to remote learning like we did last year,” she said.

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According to the Federal Way Public Schools COVID-19 dashboard, there are 102 confirmed cases among students as of Sept. 16. The data reflects cases reported to the district between Sept. 2-16.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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