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Coronavirus In Seattle
caption: Students outside Concord International Elementary in Seattle comfort each other after hearing about school closures due to the coronavirus outbreak March 11, 2020.
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Students outside Concord International Elementary in Seattle comfort each other after hearing about school closures due to the coronavirus outbreak March 11, 2020.
Credit: Esmy Jimenez/KUOW News

Tears, hugs, and goodbyes. Seattle students (and families) react to school closures

Seattle schools are closed for two weeks -- at least. It’s a precaution the district is taking to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Now kids and parents are figuring out what this means for them.

At Concord International Elementary School in South Park, students hear the intercom come to life:

Starting tomorrow, Thursday March 12, schools will be closed for a minimum of 14 days. Students take your coats, lunches, backpacks, and other personal belongings home today... Please make sure you walk through the hallways and care for one another.

Large events banned in Seattle area amid efforts to slow COVID-19 spread

The static ends but the tears begin.

A row of first graders start crying and giving each other hugs. A teacher tries to calm them and a parent asks her child, "What's wrong, huh?"

They're going to miss each other.

Students have heard the adults talking about a virus for weeks now. Some know more than others.

One boy with big eyes says he hopes the coronavirus doesn't mutate (it hasn't).

Others like Alonnie Birdwell, a fifth grader, have mixed feelings.

"I'm kind of happy 'cause we don’t have to go to school," Alonnie says. "Then again a little bit stressed because we gotta work."

She adds, "My backpack legit exploded three times," showing off her red and white bag that's styled like a Poke Ball, filled with homework sheets.

Instead of online classes, these students have packets. It's a way Seattle Public Schools is addressing the inequities between students who may not have access to the internet or computer at home.

Alonnie's mom, Alisa Birdwell, works for the school district. Even though she will be able to work from home and make sure her fifth grade stays on top of her homework, she knows other parents may not have that luxury.

"I'm gonna offer, since I'll be home, to help out some parents," she says.

Another parent, Roxana Rivera says she's not sure what families will do when it comes to childcare. She has a 7-year old daughter attending Concord and heard about the school closures Wednesday at noon.

She's not too worried about getting a babysitter because she's a stay at home mom. But she does worry that her daughter will get bored stuck indoors for two weeks.

A 75-year old grandfather who goes by 'Bun' is here to pick up his grandson and brushes off the school closures.

"Every year we have the flu," he says. Bun is retired and believes the school district is over reacting but understands, "It's for protection."

Concord Elementary is one of hundreds of schools around the Puget Sound area struggling with the impact of the coronavirus. Tomorrow there will be no bells or attendance. Soon other schools may follow suit as the virus swirls in new places.

Here as students churn out of the buildings and onto the sidewalk, the sound of buses and laughter already begins to fade.

Have a tip or want to share your experience during the coronavirus outbreak? Reach out by emailing or texting our reporter Esmy Jimenez at esmy@kuow.org or (206) 565-7902 (Signal).