SNOHOMISH, Wash. - Families in the Monroe School District are speaking out on challenges and concerns for students who have been asked to quarantine.
MacKenzie Acker has a son in the second grade at Chain Lake Elementary School. She said he and about a dozen other students were identified as close contacts and began a 14 day quarantine on Sept. 24.
A few days later, the district changed its protocol to a ten day quarantine with no test required as long as the student didn’t show symptoms. However, quarantine periods that began prior to the new protocol were not honored under the new rules.
Acker said her son even tested negative for COVID-19.
"That’s a lot for a second grader to miss. That’s a lot of learning. I don’t want him to go back and be behind, you know, to have missed and be spending weeks catching up," said Acker. "I understand that he can’t be there all day on the screen, but even just an hour or two hours of being able to interact with somebody outside the house for their learning would be a huge improvement from what we’re seeing right now."
Acker said her son is getting little education during his quarantine. He was provided some worksheets, and a few days into the quarantine Acker said she picked up a chrome book, but there’s no organized instruction for students in quarantine.
Parent Heather Young has been encouraging other parents to speak up about their experiences.
"There are people who are getting two or three pages of math homework. It just really is up to each of the individual teachers and it’s very, very hit and miss. There’s nothing that’s organized by the district," said Young. "We just came out of everyone working from home, everyone’s schooling from home. It seems bizarre that we have nothing in place at this point."
Young said there are three easy steps the district can take to make it much easier on families navigating quarantine.
"They could put an FAQ, a frequently asked questions, on the website so that we have clear information about what to do when our kid is a close contact, or if somebody else’s kid has gotten sick. What can we do when we need to keep a sibling home? All of those kinds of ins and outs. They could implement a test to stay program so that kids could take a COVID test and then stay at school instead of being sent home, and then lastly they could come up with very simple but consistent ways to keep the students engaged. Whether that is paper worksheets or whether that is some kind of an online forum," said Young.
On its website, the Monroe School District said it’s working on implementing a "test to stay" 7-day quarantine period for close contacts with proof of negative PCR test and no symptoms.
The Washington State Department of Health is requiring school districts to have approval from their local health district to implement the program, and Monroe schools said it’s actively working with the Snohomish Health District.
The school website also said the district will not move to the 7-day quarantine period until it is able to provide onsite testing at the schools.
Acker said finding a PCR test for her son was another challenges in it of itself.
"The district gave me a link in an email to testing resources and only one of those places to test was here in Monroe and their wait time for test results is greater than seven days," said Acker. "Otherwise they want us to drive to Lynnwood or Everett. I ended up having to go all the way to Bellevue because I couldn’t get an appointment where I could drive through and I didn’t want to take my three young kids and sit in a lobby and expose everybody at that point."
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