Electroimpact company creates classroom for virtual learning.
By: Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff
Mukilteo, WA– An aerospace automation company has developed an individual school reopening plan, building a school-like setting in its factory to support school-aged students during remote learning.
As local school districts ascertained coronavirus infection metric data as hazardous for reopening through in-person learning at the beginning of the academic year, parent of three Peter Zieve, President and Chief Operating Officer of Electroimpact, acquired the help of a licensed teacher to support virtual learning in-person for local students.
In the spring, when remote learning was first implemented throughout school districts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, Zieve says a number of Electroimpact employees were unable to work, staying home to supervise and support their children through distance learning.
Recognizing that many of his employees needed a way to continue working while helping their kids through this school year, Zieve got to work rearranging a space in the office area of the manufacturing facility to support a classroom setup.
“I found out that they weren’t going to have school. Well, that’s not good. Kids can’t stay home by themselves,” said Zieve. “It’s inconceivable that is what parents would be doing. We needed the school.”
Monday through Friday, a group of 20 (soon to be 25) students across all grade levels sit socially distant from one another, wearing face masks and headphones as they attend online lessons taught by their assigned teacher within the school district they’re enrolled in. Students have access to the licensed teacher when they need support or resources, as well as two college student interns. Zieve’s wife, Maria Zieve, works with younger children one-on-one to develop their reading skills.
Seventh-grader Daniel, a student in the Mukilteo School District, says that working within an atmosphere similar to a classroom has proven to be more accommodating than when he worked from home in the spring after his school adopted distance-learning.
“It’s great. Last year I couldn’t get anything done, but there’s less distraction and you have three sources to help you with your work,” said Daniel. “If I don’t get an assignment, I can go ask one of the interns or the teacher. It’s a lot easier and less stressful trying to use technology.”
Electroimpact’s educator Kayla Krueger, a recent University of Washington graduate, says that not only is she grateful to have found a teaching position during a time when hiring rates for new teachers have substantially decreased, but feels fortunate to support student success within their online curriculum.
“I feel fortunate because a lot of the teachers are working online and I get to be around all of these kids and help them,” said Krueger. “For the little kids, they’re still working on their fine motor skills, just having someone show them how to use the computer. Having someone there to help get them online is something that takes a lot of time and patience. I can’t even imagine what working parents are doing who don’t have this opportunity.”
While remote learning relies on student ability to remain attentive on a digital device, throughout the day Krueger has her students participate in daily activities away from the screen to boost productivity.
“I’m trying to just advance what they’re already doing by getting them off the computer,” said Krueger. “Yesterday we did social distancing yoga here. We take a walk to the field at the end of the day to stretch their legs and get their eyeballs off the screen.”
Through the remote-learning model, Electroimpact will continue to have Krueger support student learning in-person. With staff and students following COVID-19 protocols, Zieve believes that coronavirus infection contraction is a small risk compared to the potential consequences of student isolation.
“In my life, antisocial behavior can manifest itself in suicide and criminal activity. That stuff is a far bigger risk than COVID,” said Zieve. “Isolation is a huge risk for children; it is a direct risk.”