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OPINION: We Must Collaborate to Address Violence and Safety Issues in Mount Baker

by Gloria Hodge


In 1975, following the end of the Vietnam war, thousands of South Vietnamese refugees were fleeing to the United States to start a new life. Today, the Vietnamese immigrant population in Seattle is large, second only to China as the country of origin for immigrants in our city. This month, Hoa Mai Vietnamese Bilingual Preschool will celebrate its sixth anniversary of serving children from 20 months to 5 years old. Located adjacent to the Mount Baker Light Rail Station, we are part of the Sound Child Care Solutions Consortium. At Hoa Mai, two of our core values are providing a joyful workplace and promoting social justice. I have had the honor of working for our organization for almost 11 years and am also the founding director of Hoa Mai. 

Before we closed for the pandemic in March of 2020, things were happening quickly. Yet there was a lot of confusion and unknowns. We received very few guidelines about best safety practices from King County Public Health; there were also mixed messages regarding mask- wearing. At first, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) told us to save the masks for the medical field. There were also conversations about the possible negative impacts on young children seeing adults wearing masks. One of our employees from China expressed safety concerns and wanted to wear her mask, which I denied. It seems so trivial now, but it is the one regret I have about handling the pandemic — not immediately permitting masks to be worn. 

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