School shutdown means tens of thousands of kids in Pierce County are stuck at home

With the governor's order -- parents in Pierce County learned that tens of thousands of kids will be home for several weeks.

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — The order to close schools in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties leaves parents with a tough job: finding caretakers for their kids. In Tacoma, that means around 30,000 elementary, middle and high school students will be home until at least April 24.

Christina Mensah says she knew a shutdown of schools because of the coronavirus outbreak was a possibility. “Well, I think it’s smart,” said Mensah. “I think for the safety of the elderly and those populations that are vulnerable, it’s the best thing to do.”

A statement released by the district acknowledges the disruption closing schools will have. “We understand that this plan will create hardship for many families, and we appreciate your patience and cooperation.”

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For Jeff Lombardi, the coronavirus outbreak means more than finding child care. “My earner, my worker inside of me doesn’t want this to happen. But the part of me that is part of society knows that it has to,” said Lombardi. His son Lucas will be at home through the shutdown, but Lombardi says he’s stuck at home, too, because the spread of the coronavirus and governor’s order to cancel gatherings of more than 250 people is also hurting his business. “I work in events, conventions, concerts, all that stuff,” said Lombardi. “We’re dead. We’re dead in the water.”

Tacoma Public Schools will continue offering free meals to students throughout the shutdown at 10 middle school locations. Meals will be served between 10 a.m. and noon. Each student will receive two meals: lunch for the day and breakfast for the following morning. There is also a drive-thru option for families trying to avoid social contact. The district has created a map showing the locations.