Hazardous air quality prompts Mead School District to cancel classes for third consecutive day

MEAD, Wash. — The Mead School District will not hold classes on Wednesday, citing hazardous air quality as its reason for canceling a third day of classes on what would have been the first week of school.

More than 10,000 students are still waiting for their first day of school, while surrounding school districts have started full-time distance learning.

Disappointment set in for Tanya Holmes’ two children who were ready for the first day of school.

“My ten year old has autism, so he likes to know what to expect and when to expect it. So it’s a little harder on him when things keep getting pushed back,” she told 4 News Now.

Holmes chose the virtual learning route for her kids this year. They’re ready to start learning, having their Chromebooks and desks all set up. However, now, they have to keep waiting along with thousands of other kids in the district.

Superintendent Shawn Woodward said about 7,000 of their students still don’t have Chromebooks. That is why they cannot start full-time distance learning for anyone in the district.

Students were supposed to get their laptops the first day of school, which keeps getting delayed. Woodward added that half the students who signed up for remote learning still haven’t picked up their Chromebooks, either.

“The fact of the matter is you have half of your kids missing and you can’t have them access the instruction, they’re missing a very real part of their education where they’d have to be caught up somehow,” he told 4 News Now.

Woodward says they are trying to figure out how to give all their students their Chromebooks this week in case they can’t come back in-person yet. The district says it plans to have students learn no later than Monday, September 21. It’s possible all students may be learning remotely then, too, if the air quality does not get better.

When classes get canceled, they get tacked onto the end of the school year. Districts are required to have 180 days of school.

“Everyday missed, we have to make those days up unless we have some emergency waiver from the state,” Woodward said, adding that they are looking at making adjustments to the calendar.

Holmes said she wishes the district was more prepared, including the idea that Chromebooks were distributed prior to school starting rather than on the first day.

However, 2020 keeps throwing curveballs.

“I think the planning was great, hindsight, it’s 2020 and had we known we’d be in this situation, we definitely would’ve done differently,” Woodward said.

Although the first two days of school were canceled, Holmes says she’s trying to look at the bright side.

“The teachers have been working extremely hard and have been amazing through all of this, and so I’m trying to think on the positive side. These two days of canceled school have allowed them extra preparation and planning time,” she said.

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