The slowly improving coronavirus situation is causing some school districts to return to classroom teaching. This will begin on September 29th for some special needs students in the Issaquah School District and all elementary school students a few weeks later.
Many parents in the Issaquah School District are afraid of sending their children back into the classroom. Some say they won’t be doing that anytime soon. Their concerns range from safety to the quality of education.
The district’s goal is to provide some form of personal learning for kindergarten children and first graders. 15th October. Older elementary school students will follow.
“I’m definitely not sending my child back to school right now. No way, ”said Lindeman. “It feels like our youngest are being used as guinea pigs,” he said.
RELATED: Issaquah Teachers Concerned About “Abrupt” Return to In-Person Learning In
In a memo to parents, the school district said classroom return was based on a Washington State Department of Health’s “decision tree” that said districts in the moderate category of 25-75 cases per 100,000 people over 14 days did so “Consider extending face-to-face learning to elementary school students.”
However, major concerns for parents include the transmission of COVID between students and teachers, and how schools can ensure that young students stay within two meters of their clothing when wearing PPE.
They also fear that their children have just gotten used to distance learning and will now have to adapt to a hybrid model, possibly with a different teacher.
There is another concern about how safe classrooms are given the aging HVAC systems in some schools. The CDC has recommended adequate ventilation and air circulation to reduce the risks of COVID transmission.
“Knowing that most of these buildings don’t have HEPA filtration, there’s no modern filtration, that’s absolutely part of the concern,” Lindeman said. He also shared his concerns on a private Facebook group for Issaquah parents.
Maple Hills Elementary should get a full HVAC replacement this summer. But COVID delayed construction progress and these replacement plans to 2021.
An email KIRO7 received from the district finance and operations manager to a parent partially said:
“The current system and the systems around the district ensure sufficient airflow (according to HVAC experts).”
For some parents this is not enough.
“Which experts? Give me the experts. Give me the people – I want to see the people we should start from, ”Lindeman said.
Indoor air quality expert and CEO of Senseware – a company that makes air surveillance technology – says schools across the country have poor HVAC systems.
“In fact, the Government Accountability Office released a report in June that said more than half of the country’s schools are in need of major modernizations, with HVAC specifically named to top the list,” said Serene Al-Momen, Ph.D., CEO of Senseware.
The Washington, DC-based company says it is now starting to work with school districts to figure out how a building might need customization.
“A lot of schools don’t know that part of the stimulus package is funding to upgrade this infrastructure. So there is ESER funding that is available specifically for schools, ”Al-Momen said.
Parents say tech companies could be part of the answer to getting kids back into the classroom safely, but that time has not come.
“We have three weeks in the school year and will drop out because there is a slight improvement? I’m saying we’re getting a real improvement and maybe we can do this again after the winter break when things have really calmed down, ”said Lindeman.
In time for this story, the Issaquah School District did not provide anyone to attend to the parents’ concerns.
Cox media group