Q&A: COVID-19 mitigation practices at Lakeridge
Sept. 8, 2021
Dear Lakeridge Parents,
Below are a few Q&As that have bubbled up since the first days of school. We have heard and value your input and will continue to offer a safe and healthy environment for your child(ren). As is true for every answer below, we are and will continue to monitor daily and adjust accordingly while we continue to meet and/or exceed current DOH & OSPI guidances. We all have a vested interest in keeping our community safe, our schools open, and our Lakeridge Lions safe, happy and learning. To date, we have not had any close contacts or virus transmissions at Lakeridge - a true testament to our school community working together.
Heidi Christensen | Principal
Q: Will Lakeridge be offering an outdoor lunch seating option?
A: This week we are reviewing the results of the outdoor lunch survey that closed on Friday, Sept. 3rd. We are also collecting data, monitoring numbers closely and daily, and observing lunchtime every day.
As many of you’ve already heard, West Mercer is piloting an outdoor seating option this week primarily due to their total enrollment exceeding their inside seating capacity. West Mercer has more general classrooms and students than our school. Lakeridge is not currently in a similar predicament, but all of the elementary administrators will be observing, collaborating and learning from their pilot. It is important to keep in mind that currently Lakeridge is not exceeding our seating capacity in the gym for lunch nor do we have evidence to believe it is unsafe. By using available gym space and the stage, our lunches are safe and orderly thus far.
Again, we are and will continue to meet and/or exceed current DOH & OSPI guidances, monitor closely, and adjust accordingly.
Q: Having all K-2 students line up in the gym before school seems unnecessary. Why can’t they just go to the outside classroom doors like 3rd-5th graders?
A: There are few things to keep in mind here. First, students are seated, spaced, masked the whole time, and in the gym for generally under 10 minutes. Second, all four sets of doors are open to add to our already maximized ventilation systems. Third, we have two adults (and often more) circulating through the space to remind students about safety - masks, distancing, and staying seated as well as supervising their non-Covid related physical safety. This supervision scheme and the close proximity to students is far safer than the alternative of having supervision spread out to monitor students lining up at the classroom doors. Additionally, our total number of students enrolled in K-2 is around 140 students, far less than our gym’s capacity to safely house masked students. Keep in mind that we will rarely, if ever, have all 140 students in the gym for arrival. If we do, it will likely be for less than 5-10 minutes at most. Combined, having our K-2 students gather in the gym is safe, even with a conservative approach to current DOH & OSPI guidelines. Again, if guidances or conditions change, we will adjust accordingly.
Q: How are you managing students at lunchtime in the gym/cafeteria?
A: Our cafeteria is safe, orderly and actually quite peaceful. Again another wonderful testament to the collective efforts of staff, students and community. Under current guidance, we are meeting and/or reasonably exceeding DOH and OSPI guidelines for a safe lunchroom. We’ve maximized our seating capacity in the gym by utilizing all available space including using the entire gym floor and the stage along with students having their own tri-fold poly dividers. We’ve marked the spots for kids to sit with green painter’s tape on the benches and tables are spread 3+ feet apart. We’ve increased ventilation by having all four sets of doors open throughout lunchtimes and our building ventilation systems returning 100% outdoor air and filters upgraded to the highest available rating. We’re seating classes together (versus students self-selecting) and have security cameras in the gym to assist with contact tracing if needed. We’ve got as many paraeducators as available for additional monitoring and supervision. Finally, we’re teaching and monitoring students to “Mask Up”, “Stay Put”, “Focus on Eating”, and “Mind Your Distance”. Below are descriptions of each:
- “Mask Up” means to put your mask on whenever you’re not eating. This means putting your mask on immediately when you finish eating and includes masking when getting up out of seats, talking with neighbors, etc.
- “Stay Put” means whenever you’re unmasked, stay in your spot/seat. This includes not turning around or sideways to chat with friends.
- “Focus on Eating” means to eat peacefully. The idea behind this is to have students pointing their mouths/faces at their food, not their neighbors when unmasked. It also means just eating/chewing, not chatting. Finally, it is to encourage students to get done eating as quickly as reasonably possible so they can mask up.
- “Mind Your Distance” means to be very aware of their bodies in relation to others. Awareness of things like whether they’re seated on their tape spot or if they’ve turned their bodies around to look/chat. Generally, being aware and mindful to maintain distancing especially when they’ve got their masks off.
Q: If I sign my student out for lunchtime, can we eat/picnic on-campus?
A: We’re asking our families who sign their students out for lunch to not eat/picnic on-campus. The simplest and most important reason is that it creates “have/have not” feelings amongst students when they see some getting a special lunch option that others do not. We appreciate your understanding and support in this matter.
Q: Outdoor options for PE?
A: Our PE teachers are exceptionally flexible and safety conscious in typical times and they’re again stepping up to the plate in this pandemic year. They certainly have the option to take students outside for PE and may do so weather and content (i.e. what they’re teaching for the day) permitting. Furthermore, if students are having PE inside, they’ll be required to wear masks. PE teachers have also designated outside areas where students can go individually, in pairs, small groups, and/or whole class for “mask breaks” when needed.
Q: Masks outside for recess?
A: Masks are currently not required outside for adults or students. However, we are requiring every student to have a mask with them throughout the entire day, including recess times. We’re teaching students to be situationally aware outside to notice when it might be a time or activity to “mask up”. Similarly, we’re teaching students how to safely take a “mask break” to support our students who are wearing masks all/most of the time at recess. Our paraeducators (aka “recess teachers”) are often wearing masks outside to model being situationally aware and demonstrate that it is acceptable and encouraged for students to make their own choices about whether they feel safest masked or unmasked outside at recess. Finally, two observations to share are that on any given day, we estimate that at least half or more of students are wearing masks at recess and we’ve also had zero recess or disciplinary issues around masks/masking or not outside.