’What do I do with my kids?’ Parents wrestle with historic six-week school closure challenge

KING COUNTY, Wash. — Governor Inslee’s proclamation to close all schools for six weeks in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties left working parents of more than 600,000 students scrambling to solve an unexpected, and historic burden:
What am I going to do with my kids?

Inslee suggested some schools would continue to provide free breakfast and lunch, and some would provide child care, but not all schools would have the abilities to provide services.

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Enter the Boys & Girls Clubs, where each location is expected to be filled to capacity for the next six weeks.

“There’s so many kids here,” said Liya Sisay, a student volunteer at Wallingford’s Boys & Girls club. “I’ve been coming here for such a long time as a kid,” she said. “It’s like a second home to me. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t have this place as a resource.”

“The closest comparison I have is 9-11,” said Meghan Sweet, the Boys & Girls Club Area Director. “This has the same sudden feeling.”

Sweet and other workers screen each child for temperature and symptoms before they're admitted. Each location has legal room for 250 under the Governor's social-distancing order, Sweet said.

Inslee said he was advised that if he didn’t take the step to close schools by May 12, 50,000 local people could be infected with coronavirus.

To keep up with the staggering cost of caring for, tutoring and feeding thousands of kids, King County Boys & Girls Club's CEO turned to Facebook.

“We’re thinking we’re probably going to be in the area of 1,500 to 1,800 kids a day,” said Laurie Black, CEO Boys & Girls Club of King County.

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There’s almost 54,000 public school students out of school in Seattle alone. But the club’s staff says they’re not only ready to help, they feel the club was made for such unprecedented occasions.

"How lucky are we to be in a position to be able to help out families, help out kids, help out our community? asked Sweet. “Everybody is trying to find a way to help, we have people trying to drop off food here, calling, people want to volunteer.”

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