Seattle-area parents want rules about screen time, but experts say off-screen interactions matter more

Karla Petersen had a gut-level feeling that staring at screens all day was harming her kids.

The single mom had to help seven kids manage up to 32 separate daily log-ons to schooling platforms. Space in their Northgate home was limited. The district-provided Wi-Fi hotspot booted them offline and out of class up to six times an hour. And remote learning was stoking anxiety in the kids, who were already coping with trauma.

So Petersen redesigned school. She let her live-in kids, who range in age from 6 to 17, log in at their own discretion and supplemented with her own loose curriculum of on-the-fly adventures: scavenger hunts in the park (physical education), gardening (biology), and, most recently, a unit on caring for animals, courtesy of two local guinea pigs who needed a new home.

As Washington families continue to adapt to the mess of a pandemic, they’re struggling to

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Seattle-area families of color are talking about improving remote education. Here are some of their ideas.

Regina Elmi is the executive director of the Somali Parent Education Board. Ann Ishimaru is associate professor of education at the University of Washington. The authors wrote this piece along with 10 other African American, Somali, Latina and Vietnamese parent leaders from the Renton, Federal Way, Kent, Highline and Seattle school districts.

Thousands of families and caregivers in King County are anxious as schools operate online. In recent months, we’ve experienced the devastation of COVID-19 and a summer of reckoning with anti-Black racism sparked by the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the shooting of Jacob Blake.

We also see racial inequities deepening in our schools. As difficult and heartbreaking as this time has been, many families in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) communities have been mobilizing and finding creative ways to support and educate their children.

We challenge educational systems to consider: What might

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