Garfield and Nova high schools set to return to in-person learning Monday

Garfield High School and Nova High School are set to return to in-person learning on Monday, June 5, announced Garfield Principal Hart.

Principal Hart also noted that Seattle Public Schools has contracted to get additional security outside of Garfield and Nova school buildings from June 5 to 9.

“Over the week, SPS will support us in monitoring safety and security to determine the supports needed to close the school year,” said Principal Hart “The Seattle Police Department will be starting a patrol emphasis in the area to provide a police presence. They will assist in protecting public safety in the community, deter possible criminal activity, prevent violence, and address suspicious behavior.”

Students and staff at Garfield High School in Seattle were sent home early Thursday after a threat, according to an email from the principal of the school.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Garfield High School and Nova campuses were closed on Friday. All classes were held remotely, with a two-hour late start.

A meeting with Garfield students, family, and staff has been called on Monday, June 5, to address the recent issues of violence. Kayla Epting is the President of the PTSA and said the meeting will involve SPS, Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell, and the City’s Gun Violence Prevention Liaison DeVitta Briscoe. She hopes that all parties listen to hear her concerns as a parent as well as students’ concerns on violence. The meeting will take place at 8:30 p.m. in the Commons.

A spokesperson with Seattle Public Schools says the meeting is only open to Garfield students, family, and staff. This is not a meeting that is required to be open to the public under the Open Public Meetings Act, for which Seattle Public Schools only applies to meetings where a quorum of the School Board is present.

Principal Hart added that there is a safety hotline students can use.

“Please remember, we all play a role in school safety. You can use the SPS Safe Schools Hotline 206-252-0510 to report any threats to SPS schools. This phone number is managed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” Principal Hart wrote on Thursday.

On Thursday, students were dismissed at 2 p.m. and asked to leave the campus and go directly home or to a safe location.

“The safety and well-being of the Garfield community is our top priority,” said the release.

The Seattle Police Department and the Seattle Public Schools Safety and Security team were investigating the threat. Law enforcement was also sent to the school to help clear the area.

“It’s hard but I also don’t want us to get so comfortable and complacent that because it’s hard that we can’t come up with solutions,” Epting said.

Epting also worries that violence has become normalized for all kids.

“I think that this has become a way of life. Like our kids are learning that like violence is going to happen inevitably with or without them present,” Epting said.

Seattle Police said they will put an emphasis on patrol in the Garfield neighborhood as a response to recent violence. They also plan to have more eyes on the 9400 block of Rainier Avenue South as a response to other issues that have recently risen.

And while Epting hopes they can come up with real solutions to this problem, she believes all parties at the meeting will have to work together to make their goals a reality.

“So, without district partnership and without the support and resources from the city…we will not be able to have tangible solutions,” Epting said.