On March 5 2020, Vice President Mike Pence visited Washington State to meet with Gov. Jay Inslee as he continues to lead the White House task force in response to COVID-19.
Inslee and Pence met along with Wash. leaders and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to discuss limits on preventing the spread of COVID-19. Pence also held a televised press conference following his tour of Wash.’s emergency operations center. While visiting, the state also received a stockpile of supplies. However, according to NW News Network, the state only received half of their supply request.
Since then, some have begun to doubt the federal government’s capabilities in responding to this outbreak. Sen. Patty Murray (D) has expressed her frustrations on multiple occasions, in an interview with National Public Radio (NPR) she stated “I am very frustrated and angry because people are sick, they go to the doctor, the doctor tells them the only thing we can say to you is to go home and stay home for two weeks.”
Concerns in Wash. specifically have also been raised due to Inslee’s announcement on March 15, where he stated all public and private schools K-12 will be closed statewide until at least April 24. The closure of schools has raised questions about providing services for students.
According to the Seattle Times, 512,000 students statewide qualify for the free and reduced lunch program. There are currently plans in the works to try and aid these students, but Wash. has not implemented anything statewide, it’s only on a district by district basis. Some schools across the nation have started delivery routes, lunch bags to go for students or parents to pick up, partnering with food banks, food tents, leaving cafeterias open and handing out grocery store gift cards.
The closure of schools has also caused discussion about how student’s education will be impacted. Schools cannot keep students past June 19, so days school districts cannot make up have been waived by the state education department. As for credit requirements for students in high school, the state has addressed this with house bill 2965.
It reads “Recognizing that schools and districts throughout Washington have different needs and resources to respond to the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, within existing resources, the state board of education may administer an emergency waiver program to grant local education agencies and private schools flexibility so that students in the graduating class of 2020 or earlier who were on track to graduate before the gubernatorial declaration of emergency of February 29, 2020, and any subsequent amendments to that proclamation, are not negatively impacted by measures taken by the local education agency or private school in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).”
These changes only impact students within the K-12 system, students within college will be able to continue their classes online. However, this may impact student’s ability to succeed within their classes due to this shift.
“I’m worried for kids that don’t have laptops, can’t pay for any of that. So, they have a cool going called a student tech loan program where kids can rent a laptop for two weeks or three weeks, but you have to do that in person. So I don’t know how that’s going to work,” said Ben Roscoe, a student at the University of Washington.
In an email, Pierce College announced they would be keeping campus services available for students who have issues accessing online tech, but what specific resources are available are unlisted.
Since Pence’s visit a lot of rapid changes have occurred across the state. Schools have shut down, stores are running out of stock, and people are isolating themselves. During this time, citizens are encouraged to wash hands regularly, avoid close contact, stay home if sick and clean frequently touched surfaces often in order to protect themselves.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost