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Seattle students plan walkout, demanding tighter COVID safety measures

Seattle Public Schools{ } (KOMO News Photo)
Seattle Public Schools (KOMO News Photo)
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Some students in Seattle are planning a walkout, calling for remote learning and tighter coronavirus safety standards amid school closures and as more school staff and students are getting sick with the virus.

One Cleveland High School senior and organizer for Friday's walk-out says students are fed up with some last-minute school closures and not knowing what the rest of the year could look like. She's expecting hundreds of students and others from the community to show.

“It’s scary to be in the building and we want to have safety in our classes and in the building and we’re not getting that right now,” senior Mia Dabney explained. “We want to have KN95s. We want to have transparency with the district.”

She's claiming SPS should have better prepared to make the shift to remote learning in anticipation of this latest COVID-19 spike, as Cleveland was among two SPS high schools closed Thursday amid staffing shortages, and after Franklin High School closed for two days earlier in the week.

“This was so unpredictable for students and it really doesn't help with students' mental health,” Franklin High School Sophomore Natalya McConnell added.

Seattle Public School students say they are staging a "sickout" at the school district's headquarters in SODO neighborhood Friday.

Meanwhile, Franklin High School students started a petition urging the district to provide N95 masks and make regular coronavirus testing and vaccines available at schools. Franklin High School student leaders say they're also planning another so-called sick-out on Tuesday when they're scheduled to go back to school in-person.

Students had the support of the teachers union vice president at a district board meeting Wednesday night.

“What our students are feeling is a direct result of how our system is failing,” Seattle Education Association Vice President Uti Hawkins said.

At that same meeting, Interim Superintendent Dr. Brent Jones said the district is following state mandate and input from families who want them to maintain in-person learning, when possible.

“Our objective is to continue to learn in-person safely. No health guidance is telling us to go remote,” Dr. Jones stated.

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A spokesperson with SPS said testing is available whenever a student or their family feels they’ve been exposed. N95s aren’t always available because of supply chain issues.

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