Lake Washington students in grades 6-12 will not return to in-person learning this school year

Parents whose kids attend school in the second largest district in the state are outraged and ready to send a message. 

That’s after learning most middle school and high school students in the Lake Washington School District would not be returning for in-person learning for the rest of the school year. 

On Monday night, they held a rally outside the school district's building in Redmond. Dozens of families showed up with signs, say the superintendent’s decision to keep most 6th through 12th-grade students in remote learning for the remainder of the year is failing their children. 

"I am very angry at this point," said Meghan Mead, mother of a sophomore and senior at Lake Washington High School in Kirkland. "I feel like our district is failing our kids and is talked about one of the most behind in the country and I’m so mad about it. " 

She said other public school districts have committed to bringing older students back for in-person learning. She's questioned why her district isn't doing the same.

"My kids can go to a crowded mall," Mead said. "They can go to Target. They can go to a grocery store. They can go to restaurants. They can get on a plane. But they can get into a classroom with a mask on a plexiglass divider and get schooled." 

Mostly, she feels terrible for her daughter Ashley who’s a senior but has barely stepped foot on the campus. A student stripped of so many memories that often last a lifetime, according to her mother. 

"Devastated," Mead said. "Every parent I know of the senior class is truly sad."

The announcement came last week. Superintendent Dr. Jon Holmen sent out an email with the district's decision and posted a video to youtube.

It explained, when considering all factors, the district had made the decision not to go with a hybrid model with some in-person learning for six through 12th graders, but rather a targeted one for the rest of the school year. 

You can read more about the district's decision here: Read more about the LWSD Pathway Forward

In-person support will be reserved for sixth through 12th graders who are struggling socially, emotionally, or academically.  

"We need to address the academic needs of our failing students," Dr. Holmen said in the YouTube video. "Students that aren’t experiencing academic success right now truly need support, so that they can be on track so they receive the education and experience that they truly need." 

We wanted to interview the superintendent or a district spokesperson. We were told they were both in meetings all day.  

"Other schools in our state have proved that in-person learning can happen," said Mother Angela Phillips.

She has two kids at Eastlake High School in Sammamish and points to directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President Joe Biden, Governor Jay Inslee and others, who have said that kids, if possible, should be back in the classroom. 

Phillips said King County has one of the lowest rates of COVID-19 cases per capita of any populated area in the country.  

"If the leaders can’t figure out how to get our students back and reach out to thousands and thousands of schools that can make it happen then they should step aside and find leaders that can make it happen," Phillips said.