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For your information: News for Seattle-area kids and families

School starts in a month! Are you ready?

The latest news for families in the Seattle area.

First day of school in Seattle is Sept. 1

School will be here before we know it, and the plan is for full, in-person learning.

Here are some key dates for Seattle Public Schools families:

  • August 17-18: Jump Start Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m.-noon each day; a low-key welcome and orientation for incoming kindergartners.
  • Sept. 1: First day of school for grades 1-12
  • Sept. 9: First day of whole-group instruction for all preschool and kindergarten students. (A calendar change so as not to conflict with Rosh Hashanah.)

Snowflake Lane will be looking for cast members

July 28: Snowflake Lane, the festive and professional downtown Bellevue holiday spectacle, will be back for 2021, the production company announced.

Greg Thompson Productions said measures such as masks, social distancing and health checks will be in place and that it will soon put out audition information ahead of filling (paid) roles for drummers, dancers, characters, stilt walkers and color guard. FYI: It will be a smaller show with fewer cast members this year.

In the meantime, you can fill out an “interest form” to be put on their mailing list. They do cast some teenagers.

Seattle Public Library hiring teens 16 and up

July 23: Here is a great opportunity: Seattle Public Library is hiring student assistants, and anyone 16 and older can apply.

The deadline is 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4.

Jobs are available at the Central Library and branches around the city and will begin Sept. 15. Assistants work 12 to 15 hours per week on afternoons, evenings and weekends. Pay starts at $16.69 per hour, and raises are available. The positions are temporary and can be held for up to two years.

Here is more on the program, and here is the city of Seattle job portal.

WildLanterns tickets are on sale

July 20: Ticket sales have started for WildLanterns, the popular holiday event/exhibit that premiered last year at Woodland Park Zoo.

(We went! We liked it!)

Even zoo members need to buy tickets, and they are reserved for a particular time and date. The exhibit this season will run Nov. 12 through Jan. 16, 2022.

If you’re ready to commit, here’s how to do it.

July 15: Northwest Trek, the wild-animal park in Eatonville (en route to Mount Rainier!) has reopened Zip Wild, its popular zipline adventure.

It’s actually a combination zipline/challenge-course adventure with different packages available for different ages and abilities.

Prices are $30-90 and include park admission.

Zip Wild details here. More on NW Trek here.

Keeper talks resume at Woodland Park Zoo

July 8: With COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, Woodland Park Zoo is resuming its popular Keeper Talks. Check the schedule online or at the zoo entrance and go learn from the people who care for the animals and know them best.

Timed-entry tickest are still required to visit the zoo. Masks are required indoors and recommended outdoors. Find all policies and safety protocols here.

In addition, the popular ZooTunes concert series also resumes this summer. Here’s the lineup.

Kids age 12 and up can drop in for a COVID vaccine

No need for an appointment! Adults and kids who are 12 or more can drop in at all King County sites for a vaccination, whether it’s the first or second dose, and COVID-19 vaccination is always free. (Kids from ages 12 to 16 are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine only.)

These are the King County sites. Call for the schedule and to find out available vaccination types:

Auburn Outlet Collection: 1101 Outlet Collection Way, Suite 1333, Auburn, WA 98001 (206-477-3977)

Bellevue: Eastgate Public Health Center, 14350 SE Eastgate Way, Bellevue, WA 98007 (206-477-3284)

Burien: Public Health Primary Care at Navos, 1210 SW 136th St., Burien, WA 98166 (206-477-3284)

Federal Way: Kaiser Medical Center, 301 South 320th St., Federal Way, WA 98003 (1-877-832-9915)

Kent ShoWare Center: 625 W. James St., Kent, WA 98032 (206-477-3977)

Redmond: Microsoft Campus Microsoft Blvd. 33, 16070 NE 36th Way, Redmond, WA 98052 (425-899-3933)

Renton: Kaiser Campus, 2715 Naches Ave. SW, Renton, WA 98057 (1-877-832-9915)

Seattle: Downtown Public Health Center, 2124 4th Ave., Seattle, WA 98121 (206-477-3284)

Seattle: Rainier Beach, 8702 Seward Park Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98118 (206-684-2489)

Seattle: SoDo Drive-thru Site, 2801 SW Thistle St., Seattle, WA 98126 (206-684-2489)

Shoreline Center: 18560 1st Ave. NE, Shoreline, WA 98155 (206-520-8700)

Snoqualmie Valley Hospital: 9801 Frontier Ave. SE, Snoqualmie, WA 98065 (425-396-7682)

Source: Public Health — Seattle & King County

Anahi enjoys her day at the Market

In honor of Nature Photography Day and the Wild at Heart partnership, a snake from Woodland Park Zoo got to enjoy the beautiful flowers at Pike Place Market.

Anahi the red-tailed boa constrictor visited Pike Place Market on Tuesday, June 15, for a (well-controlled) frolic in the flowers. Handlers say Anahi — 11 years old, more than 25 pounds and silky and smooth to the touch – used her tongue to, ahem, stop and smell the flowers.

It’s part of the Wild at Heart program, which has paired penguins and balleries, and owls and librarians, among other things. See more great images here.

‘Teach the Truth’ rally Saturday in Seattle

June 11: Educators in Seattle will join those in more than 20 cities and towns across the United States on Saturday (June 12) to rally and pledge to “teach the truth” about U.S. history. The action comes as state lawmakers across the country are introducing bills to ban school curricula that include information about the role of racism, sexism, heterosexism and other oppression.

The Seattle event starts and ends at Medgar Evers Pool at Garfield High School, 500 23rd Ave. The schedule is as follows:

2 p.m.: Rally and speakers

2:30 p.m.: Walking tour of six culturally and historically important sites (Douglass-Truth Library, Firehouse/Africatown Community Land Trust, Pratt Park, Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, Second Black Panther Party Office, Horace Mann building/Nova) that advocates say could be potentially removed from the curriculum under restrictive laws.

4 p.m.: Closing rally.

More information here.

Good news for foster care in Washington state

June 9: Treehouse, the organization that supports youth in the foster care system in Washington, is cheering funding approved by the Washington State Legislature to help the same kids Treehouse helps.

The nonprofit, founded in 1988 by social workers, provides academic and other assistance to the more than 7,800 youth in foster care statewide.

Treehouse will receive $4.89 million to expand its Graduation Success program statewide, bringing it to an additional 600 high school students. A Senate bill also requires each school building to establish a point of contact for every youth in foster care to coordinate services and resources.

Lawmakers also boosted financial support to relatives, who often become the caregivers to kids in foster care, and also modified licensing requirements to improve relatives’ access to licenses and the stipends that come with them.

Treehouse also supposed a move to create community transition services for youth exiting juvenile rehabilitation, including a bill that provides therapeutic community transition services to improve reentry outcomes in education, employment and behavioral health; and another to boost education access to youth in and released from juvenile rehabilitation facilities.

Learn more about Treehouse, its services and ways to help.

State parks gift cards now available

Washington State Parks is now selling gift cards that can be used to reserve campsites, cabins and vacation homes, purchase parks merchandise and more. Electronic is the easiest way to buy cards for now, in denominations from $5-500 (the cards are reloadable). The plan is to have actual, plastic cards available later this year at state parks. Gift cards also may be used to Discover Passes through the State Parks reservation system, but not from third-party vendors. Cards also are not valid at Washington state parks’ concessions.

Argosy Cruises resumes sailing

May 26:  Argosy Cruises is resuming its sightseeing tours just in time for summer. For now, Harbor Cruises will run Friday through Sunday and the Locks Cruises will run Saturday and Sunday; daily operation will begin later in the summer. Masks are required, boats are not at full capacity and no cash is accepted. Find all of the latest reopening news here.

The latest from Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo updates, May 22: With new guidance from state and national officials, Woodland Park Zoo has changed some policies:

  • Masks are still required for everyone 5 and older in indoor spaces but now are optional (but recommended) outdoors.
  • The Conservation Aviary, Temperate Wetlands and Family Farm have reopened.
  • Some sit-down dining now is available.
  • Presentations with Ambassador Animals will resume June 1.
  • Timed-entry tickets are still advised, and entry is only through the zoo’s west entrance (near the penguins).

In other zoo news, ZooTunes is back for summer 2021! Details here.

And the scary-good dinosaur exhibit is here through Labor Day.

Sign up for summer parks programs

Registration is open for a variety of summer programs, both in–person and virtual, through Seattle Parks & Recreation.

In-person camps will be held at at High Point, Jefferson, Montlake and Loyal Heights community centers and will include options like sports and fitness, arts and crafts, performing arts, nature, STEM and more.

“Virtual camps,” for which free software is provided, will include everything from creative dance to hockey to writing, Dungeons & Dragons and more.

Here’s how to find the full summer brochure, which includes details about registration and the availability of scholarships.

Nature spotters outdo themselves

We told you about the City Nature Challenge earlier this month.

More than 500 people signed up to participate in the greater Seattle-Tacoma area, recording more than 7,000 observations of a record 1,200 species of plants and animals. The prize find was a very rare species of paddle worm.

Go here to find full results from our region.

Seattle summer parks program update:

April 22: Seattle Parks & Recreation is optimistically planning for summer although with lots of question marks around safety guidelines and program funding.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • Indoor pools: Medgar Evers and Rainier Beach pools are open.
  • Outdoor pools: Colman Pool and Mounger Pool will operate this summer.
  • Spray parks: 11 spray parks will operate, with no staff on hand.
  • Swimming beaches: The city hopes to have lifeguards on duty at five beaches.
  • Wading pools: Still unknown, but one thing is for sure: It’s unlikely that all wading pools will be open; we’ll be lucky to have some of them. Stay tuned.
  • Check back for updates from Seattle Parks.

Survey shows preschool costs up, funds needed

It’s getting more expensive to run a preschool, and operators of state-funded programs are hoping that the Washington Legislature comes through with increased funding to help them serve young kids, and keep them safe, amid continuing concerns over COVID-19.

The Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP released survey data April 14 showing that ECEAP, Washington’s state funded preschool program, has seen an average increase in costs of 38%, primarily in cleaning materials and protective equipment for staff, technology to support home learning, and individualized early learning supplies. Almost 30% of ECEAP programs have made improvements such as ventilation to improve air quality in their facilities.

Advocates have their eyes on the With ECEAP programs eager to reopen onsite services, and serve more children, WSA is grateful that Governor Inslee, and early childhood champions in the state legislature, have taken bold and ambitious steps this session to expand early learning through the Fair Start for Kids Act, a plan before the Legislature to support the children and families that ECEAP serves.

North Redmond tops website’s “best places” ranking

March 31: The ranking and review website Niche has declared North Redmond the Washington state winner of its Best Places to Raise a Family ranking. Niche says the ranking is based on both data and resident reviews. However, with a median home value of $941,228 and median rent of $3,333, north Redmond will be out of reach for many families. Here’s the full top 5:

North Redmond
Sammamish Plateau
Sammamish Valley
Education Hill
Overlake

Online event to focus on teen and tween mental health

March 29: Tweens and teens and their grown-ups are invited to “Ending the Silence,” a presentation on early warning signs of poor mental health (plus the opportunity for kids to ask questions, learn coping strategies and get basic information on mental health treatments). The online event on March 29 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. is geared toward tweens and teens in grades six through 12.

You can sign up for the online event here.

The presentation is being hosted by PNW Parent Education and the National Alliance on Mental Illness Seattle. The goal is to open up larger discussions about the importance of mental health and mental health awareness, especially during COVID.  

SPS deal on in-person learning for elementary school

March 17: Seattle Public Schools and its teachers reached a tentative agreement March 16 on details for a return to in-person learning.

The matter was made more urgent by Gov. Jay Inslee’s recent executive order directing schools to offer some in-person learning by April 19.

The new agreement, which still needs a vote of the full Seattle Education Association, sets a schedule for bringing all elementary-grade special-education students back into classrooms on March 29, followed by other elementary students on April 5. (Families will have the option to continue remote learning.) Details are still being worked out, but generally, the plan is for a hybrid model where students would attend either morning or afternoon in-person class four days a week, with remote teaching on Wednesdays.

In-person instruction at the middle- and high-school level will be the subject of a separate negotiation.

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