Before April 19

When we first heard students may return.

Leonardo Hernandez-Donis, Staffer

Mariner tests in-person learning with about 100 students. Safety protocols will be
enforced to encourage more students and staff for the reopening of school.
We all know our current situation in this pandemic, being the one-year anniversary of
online school and quarantine, we students and staff members have been informed to
stay home from work or school because of the major outbreak that had occurred back in
March of 2020. Being the year 2021, the Mariner staff and school board are currently in
the process of discussions about when our school will reopen and what rules to enforce
to keep things safe and welcoming. Mr.Duchesne and Mr.Karthcner have given me
information on the current plan.
Currently, about 100 students are participating in in-person learning in the Mariner
building, and it’s showing positive results. No problems had occurred with any Covid-19
cases since the start of the school year back in September of last year. With the
enforcement of robust safety protocols, the building admin team hopes for more
students and staff to return for the future of in-person learning.
¨The students that have returned to the building have had both improved attitudes and
grades,¨ says Mr.DuChesne.
Although some students have already returned to school, the district is working on
getting more students back in as soon as possible. Most elementary schools in the
Mukilteo District has started reopening school for their younger students
back in mid-February and continues for higher grades (1-5). With discussions in the
process for secondary schools, the district has some information on this.
¨We have discussed how to reopen secondary (grades 6-12) for all students, but we
have not heard a firm proposed a date yet from our district,¨ says Mr.Kartchner.
We may see some noticeable differences if we were to return to school; these
include mask-wearing, physical distancing (6 feet apart), and small class sizes of no
more than 15 students per classroom. In addition to these, we will be expected not to share school materials with others and clean up and wash our hands to
reduce the risk of contamination. As for transportation, school buses will follow the same
ruleset and have windows open for ventilation to ensure student safety.
¨Remember, wearing a mask doesn’t just protect you, it also protects others,¨
commented Mr.Kartchner on the topic. ¨Unlike last March when we closed, we now
know way more about how the virus spreads and what steps need to be taken to ensure
When questioned on student requirements in the building, Mr.Kartchner has listed a
step-by-step instruction you may need to know to ensure the safety of you and others:
¨Students that are currently in the building do the following: They arrive with a form that
states they have no COVID-19 symptoms (this is called an attestation form), then they
have their temperature checked, then they walk straight to their classroom. Remember
students will be expected to wear a mask (properly) and maintain their physical distance
from others when possible. Also, if you have symptoms, even if you have a cold, you
are required to stay home until you are cleared to return to school,¨
In any circumstance that a new case is confirmed on school grounds, the infected
student must return home to be quarantined as well for any students within close
proximity for a certain amount of time of the infected student (within 6 feet for more than
15 minutes cumulatively in a day).
Many obstacles are present in this plan, and one challenging part of this is large
gatherings. The district has to make procedures just for this since most schools have
hundreds of students that attend big gatherings such as breakfast or lunch in cafeterias,
assemblies, classrooms, etc. This new procedure must follow Washington State
Department of Health guidelines, which are strict, to reopen schools.
¨So in addition to hand washing and cleaning, there are three things we must ensure for
the safety of everyone and in all spaces: ventilation, mask-wearing, and physical
distancing (6 feet),¨ says Mr.Kartchner. ¨Schools have come up with different ways of
planning for this, including rotating schedules (you go to school every other day) and
providing to-go lunch, so you don’t have to eat on campus.¨
The main concern in all of this is besides reopening is how students feel in distance
learning. Some students are doing fine in these times and don’t mind it that much, and
some are struggling with the new changes. This has been a problem for a year now and
is continuing.
¨I think staff are handling it as best as possible. Distance learning is new to almost all of
us. Some of our students are doing great, but we also know many students are
struggling, and it is a lot harder for us to help students who are struggling in distance
learning,¨ says Mr.Kartchner.
More is being discovered every day, new ways to keep us safe, changing schedules,
and keeping up with Covid-19 news. We need to acknowledge that the staff and district
are trying their hardest to make learning flexible and more enjoyable for students by
spending their time brainstorming and going through multiple meetings every week.
¨Not knowing what tomorrow will bring and the ever-changing guidance we receive.
Everyone must take many steps to make sure we can pull off a
smooth reopening without being too disruptive,¨ Mr.Kartchner comments.
¨Part of the struggle is that we must continue to allow students who want to be fully
online to stay fully remote. That means when we reopen schools, we must also have a
way to support those students who are fully remote and the students who are in
person. Also, because we have to reduce the capacity of the building by at least
50%, we have to be creative with our schedules. If you look at other district’s schedules,
you will see they can be pretty complicated. To me, this switch from distance to in-
person learning is sort of like changing the tires of a car while driving down the freeway.