by Ben Adlin
Nearly two years after the pandemic began, Seattle Public Schools has announced that masks will become optional across the district beginning Monday, March 14. The change comes after Washington’s statewide indoor masking mandate ended at midnight Friday.
In preparation for the statewide change, the State Department of Health updated its COVID-19 guidance for schools last week, advising that masks should be among a set of “optional prevention measures.” Seattle and King County health officials have issued similar guidance, saying they follow the lead of the State Health Department.
Continue reading Starting Monday, March 14, Masks Will Be Optional in Seattle Public Schools
by Ronnie Estoque
Access to affordable, healthy, culturally relevant foods in schools has always been a focus point for FEEST, an organization led by Youth of Color in South Seattle and south King County. Recently, FEEST has reassessed the curriculum they’ve taught their students in Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and Highline Public Schools (HPS) to help improve their organizing skills. Both SPS and HPS have guaranteed that their school food will be free to all students for the remainder of the 2021–2022 academic term.
“We want school lunch to be free for everyone K–12, indefinitely,” said Cece Flanagan, a community organizing and training manager at FEEST. “We are also ensuring that youths’ basic needs are being met by offering free groceries and meal deliveries, loaning technology to connect to school/virtual meetings, ensuring youth [organizers] are connected to mental health supports, and paying them a competitive wage.”
Continue reading FEEST Empowers Students to Action Across Seattle
by Ronnie Estoque
Sophomores at Cleveland High School in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood have spent the last few weeks gathering donations for a mutual aid drive that they have been planning alongside the Humanities Department, staff, administration, and the school PTSA. The event was made possible due to an identified need to better support families of Cleveland students that may have experienced intensified financial hardship in the past year due to the pandemic.
The mutual aid event aims to help address a lack of basic household goods for students and their families. “We’ve been supporting families this year in a variety of ways … the reality is that a lot of the resources that we have available aren’t supporting those basic needs,” Cleveland High School social worker Trisa Ibarra said.
Continue reading Cleveland High School Mutual Aid Drive Seeks Community Support
by Carolyn Bick
King County Metro bus operator Sam Smith is worried about job security. Already, he said, Metro had to cut 200 part-time driver jobs in August, as a cost-saving measure, due to the economic fallout of the current novel coronavirus pandemic. In September, Metro reduced bus service by 15%. If Proposition 1 — which would continue a portion of public transit funding for the next five years — doesn’t pass, Smith thinks his job is likely on the chopping block. He also worries about the effect a lack of funding will have on the wider public.
“Cuts in transit right now are counter-productive. Routes that run in heavily populated areas such as the A Line, E Line, and the 7 which serves South Seattle are packed at capacity,” Smith said in an emailed statement to the Emerald.
In an effort to prevent these cuts, the Transit Riders Union (TRU) will be holding a Day of Action on Oct. 6, which is meant to frame public transportation as a mutual aid effort and make the case for voters to pass Proposition 1 in November. The TRU will also join national transit riders unions across the country that day in calling for the United States Congress to pass the HEROES Act, which includes $32 billion in emergency transit funds.
Continue reading TRU to Hold Day of Action to Bolster Support for Crucial Public Transit Ballot Measure
by Ramone Johnson
My name is Ramone Johnson and I’m 17 years old. I’m from Illinois originally, and ever since I’ve been to school out here in Washington, any situation in school has been blasted way out of proportion. I want to share my experience to help students and teachers understand each other and learn to value every student and make schools a better environment for everyone.
I started recognizing I was being treated differently as one of the only Black kids in my Seattle middle school. The school administration and security guards came as hard as they possibly could towards me. If I called out the way they were treating me differently than other students, they would call me disruptive and send me out of the classroom. It’s like they wanted to prove a point when I refused to adapt to their environment. I watched them give some students extra time to finish assignments, and they wouldn’t do the same for me. What made him better than me? We were both students that needed help. Instead, they’d treat me like a terrorist. They’d have the cop and school security guard following me around all day and blame me for things I didn’t do.
Continue reading OPINION: What Teachers Should Know About the Experience of Being a Black Student in Seattle Public Schools
by Vivian Hua 華婷婷
Two years ago, amid shifting trends towards standardized, “one-size-fits-all” approaches to testing and curriculum development, parents, students, and staff at Orca K-8 School brainstormed and launched a program called South End Stories. A dynamic and multi-faceted experience, South End Stories (SES) works within Seattle Public Schools to create safe spaces for students to share their own stories through film, dance, writing and performance.
Continue reading South End Stories Helps Youth of Color Build Storytelling Skills
by Ben Adlin
It’s no news to Seattle parents and caretakers that educating kids has become even more of a challenge since the city closed school campuses in March. Many have been asked without warning to take on the roles of teacher and childcare worker while still having to travel to essential jobs, find new employment or adapt to working from home.
A newly expanded partnership between Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Public Library hopes to ease the transition by offering families free access to a suite of online resources. With just their school identification number, all K-12 students can now log in to the library’s digital databases and electronic media.
Continue reading No library card? No problem. Every Seattle Public School Student Now Has Access
by Marcus Harden
(This article first appeared on Rise up For Students and has been reprinted with permission.)
“As long as there are those that remember what was, there will always be those that are unable to accept what can be. They will resist.”
—Thanos, Avengers Endgame
I hate social distancing. There, I said it.
I believe in the power of language — I rarely use the word hate — and I fully understand why social distancing is necessary. I honor and respect the sacrifices workers are making that allow me to sit on my Ikea couch and write a blog post about hating it and the privilege that comes along with it.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way … every day, my heart and spirit mourns the loss of not only what was, but like so many others around me, I grieve for the lost feeling of certainty of what will be.
Continue reading OPINION: As We Mourn the Loss of “Normal,” the Time has Come to Envision a Bold New Future for Our Schools
by Susan Fried
Signs reading “There is no Planet B” and “Our Future is Being Sacrificed” dotted a crowd of youth who sat on the grass at Cal Anderson Park on a beautiful Friday morning in Seattle. Hundreds of young people from dozens of Seattle schools showed up at Cal Anderson Park to show solidarity with the millions of youth walking out of their classrooms across the globe to let their governments and older people know that it’s time to take climate change seriously.
Continue reading Seattle Youth Gather at Cal Anderson To Protest Government Inaction on Climate Change
by Susan Fried
The Rainier Beach High School students arriving for the first day of school Wednesday morning didn’t know what to make of the small crowd of people — with a few small children — gathered near the school entrance by the Paul Robeson Performing Arts Center. But once the students passed by the group, the received high fives and a crowd of people saying, “Welcome back, and have a wonderful day.”
Continue reading Rainier Beach Students Start School with High Fives and Encouragement