Authored by Melanie Boyer on May 6, 2020
Posted In: Impact Stories
Students spend as much as two hours each way on the bus to get to and from Wa He Lut on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Wa He Lut is a Bureau of Indian Affairs school that serves several tribes, and since schools closed, teachers have been making the drive to get food to their kids and their families. They go in shifts, because there are only three government vehicles they can use, and those are the only vehicles big enough to carry all the food.
When they reached one of the reservations, they were met by the tribal police. They were stopping anyone from going in, to protect the population from infection. Fortunately, they were able to get through.
“I’m really scared for my students, and not just for their academics—I’m scared for their safety. Are they getting food? How scary is it for them? They live in multigenerational families, some of them live just with their grandparents, and they’re hearing about how this virus is affecting older people. They’re so little, and they don’t understand what’s going on.”
Katy and her fellow teachers have been taking school supplies out to the kids on their trips as well—everything they could grab before schools closed.
“We had to scour the school for all the supplies we could find—crayons, pencils, paper, anything we could find, but it wasn’t enough,” she said. “When I called the parents, they were asking for pencil sharpeners. “
Katy uses First Book to stock her school and classroom libraries. She said the kids get so excited about the books, they read them to the point the pages fall out and then bring them in so she can help tape them back together. She’s using a grant from First Book to purchase more books while schools are closed.
At the moment, she and one of the other teachers are planning to just drive by their students’ houses and wave so the kids can see them.
“I do worry about their academics. I don’t want them to be more behind than they already are, but I’m mostly just worried about them personally.”