Tag Archives: Ari Robin McKenna

Communication Key as South Seattle Schools Reporting Disproportionate COVID-19 Cases

by Ari Robin McKenna


With public school students back learning in-person for the second week during a delta variant surge, parents and guardians await crucial, timely information from their school or district in the event there are COVID-19 cases at their child’s school. Such information helps parents and guardians keep their kids safe and take precautions that impact collective safety. In South Seattle and southwest King County — where the majority of People of Color in the county live and where higher COVID-19 case rates have persisted throughout the pandemic — clear, transparent, effective communication becomes even more crucial. In these historically under-resourced communities, plenty of doubts remain about current communication during this delta stage of the pandemic.

When Seattle Public Schools (SPS) refreshed their COVID-19 dashboard on Monday evening for last school week, they reported 44 confirmed COVID-19 cases within their 104 schools and other educational sites. Ten of those cases were in the northwest and northeast districts, and 24 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the southwest and southeast districts. This is despite the total number of students actually being 2,984 higher in the north. Though this week-one data set is minuscule, it accedes to the norms of the bigger picture: Seattle-wide, parents and guardians anxiously sent their kids to school on the first day, and perhaps predictably, more than twice as many from the South End have gotten sick.

To put the disparate current infection rates in perspective, a glance at the current King County “Daily COVID-19 outbreak summary dashboard” geography stub on Sept. 8 shows all of the highest reporting areas to be in the southwest corner of the county map. Central Federal Way, SeaTac/Tukwila, and South Auburn have the county’s highest COVID-19 positive case rates per 100,000 residents at 11,224.4, 11,328.6, and 12,843.1 respectively. Meanwhile, by contrast, whiter north Seattle neighborhoods have some of the county’s lowest rates, such as Ballard, Fremont/Green Lake, and northeast Seattle, which are at 2,996.1, 2,958.3, and 3,693.8 respectively.

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Student Activists Reflect on Long Overdue Rainier Beach High School Rebuild

by Ari Robin McKenna


For decades, the Rainier Beach community watched as other better-resourced high schools got major building renovations, waiting for their turn. Yet as various Seattle Public Schools’ (SPS) building levies passed them by, many members of the student population at Rainier Beach High School (RBHS) — which is currently 97% students of color — began to speak out.

From within a building built in 1961, students have been mounting pressure on the district for more than a decade. Finally, in 2019, the school board approved a replacement building as part of the Building Excellence (BEX) V Capital Levy. With RBHS set for a rebuild beginning next summer, the Emerald spoke to four students who were active in different waves of the push to make that happen.

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Beloved Cleveland Assistant Principal Ray Garcia-Morales Heads Home

by Ari Robin McKenna


After six years as an assistant principal at Cleveland STEM High School (Cleveland), Ray Garcia-Morales has returned to the neighborhood he grew up in, West Seattle, to become the principal at Chief Sealth International High School (Sealth). A reluctant student-turned-school-social worker-turned-principal, Garcia-Morales’ academic and professional path has been anything but traditional. Yet in speaking with various Cleveland staff who’ve worked with him, it became clear Garcia-Morales was cherished for what the beaten path doesn’t provide.

Continue reading Beloved Cleveland Assistant Principal Ray Garcia-Morales Heads Home