Rising COVID-19 infections halt expanding in-person instruction plans for South Sound schools

In Pierce County, health officials noted an increasing number of new COVID-19 cases over the past few days and that meant several school districts looking to expand in-person learning inside the classroom halted the efforts.

For families with children among the Puyallup School District the changes were sudden and pushed some families’ schedules into chaos.

“Coronavirus, go away,” said 7-year-old Kadence Taylor.

Taylor’s mother Koren said her daughter is losing her patience attending school from inside their home. Koren says she has been playing double duty this season as a teacher’s aide.

Starting next week Kadence was supposed to move to in-person learning at Hunt Elementary School but last Thursday the district suddenly canceled those plans.

“We just get the news yesterday,” said Koren.

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department officials informed school districts this week about a rising trend of new infections which may be reason to halt expanding in-person instruction.

In response, the Puyallup School District changed plans to expand classroom instruction for some students scheduled to begin next week.

Tacoma Public Schools also halted similar efforts but noted some children with special needs would soon begin in-person instruction next week.

In Gig Harbor the Peninsula School District says kindergarteners, first graders and special needs kids would continue to attend some classes on campus but expanding the model may have to wait and district officials would continue to monitor data provided by county health officials.

Puyallup Schools say despite the change in plans, the chaos facing families right now could pay off later when or if infections begin to fall.

“That’s what we’re hoping,” said district spokesperson Sarah Gilispie. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic, anything can happen.”

For now, learning from home means recess can sometimes look more like a chore for kids like Kadence. Until the district resumes efforts to get kids back into class she will have to continue struggling to study at home.

“No one gets to bother me,” Kadence said comparing learning in a classroom rather than at home. “I don’t have to hear my mom say, ‘It’s just your dad!”