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City of Mukilteo shuts down local learning pod

By Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff

Mukilteo, Wash – A school-like setting in an aerospace automation factory to support school-aged students during remote learning has been shut down.

When local school districts announced that schools would be opening virtually, parent of three Peter Zieve, and President and Chief Operating Officer of Electroimpact, hired a teacher to support virtual learning in-person for 20 students at his aerospace manufacturing factory.

Yet, less than a month into the school year, Zieve’s learning pod has been ordered to close due to violations of building and fire codes. According to Electroimpact’s architect Adam Clark, none of the violations were COVID-19 related.

On Friday, September 25, Zieve received an email from the City of Mukilteo stating that inspectors would be visiting Electroimpact to ensure the building was up to code. A week later, a building and fire inspector visited the factory, along with Clark, Zieve’s architect.

Together the three of them decided that the building was unfit for educational occupancy.

That day, they were told tomorrow was the school’s last day.

“The families are really upset because we provided a good place for their kids, so many of them are very upset,” said Zieve. “I have families saying they’re going to miss having this resource. They don’t want their kids home in isolation; that is not good for kids and the parents know that.”

Based on the evaluation, because the building the children was in also included manufacturing and office occupancies, an educational occupancy required additional requirements.

“Six or more children in the program triggers the [educational] occupancy,” explained Clark. “If you have five or fewer there is no change to [educational] occupancy so these requirements do not need to be met.”

Additionally, an educational occupancy cannot be located above Electroimpact’s third floor, due to stair safety hazards in the case of an emergency. The building was also deemed too large to house an occupancy of this nature without separating the portion of the third floor being used, explained Clark.

While there will be a gap in the in-person support at Electroimpact, it won’t be the end.  In the coming weeks, Zieve intends to remodel an old school building owned by and located on Electroimpact’s campus to meet building codes.

“I think it was really nice what we had for the kids,” expressed Zieve. “They really liked it there, they were comfortable there.”

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