By David Pan 

Learning center shut down due to safety concerns


Last updated 10/28/2020 at 12:06pm

Photo courtesy of Peter Zieve

A classroom set up for students at Electroimpact had to be closed earlier this month because of safety issues.

A learning center for students at Electroimpact that had been operating since the start of the school year was shut down Oct. 2 due to safety concerns.

Electroimpact owner Peter Zieve started the classroom in response to the decision by school districts to continue with remote/online learning.

Electroimpact designs and manufactures aerospace tooling and automation equipment.

Zieve set up a learning center with desks in a 250-foot-long room in one of the company's eight buildings. "Our offices are not full because it's a slow time for the industry," he said. "I put the school room at the end of the third floor. It was a logical place for many reasons. Many of the parents are on the floor. They had the security of having the kids on the same floor."

At first, children of employees attended the learning center, but after Zieve posted some information on a community website other parents in the neighborhood brought their children as well.

Around 26 children, in grades two through nine, attended the classroom. Under normal circumstances, the room has a capacity of about 200 people. Students were able to socially distance at their desks.

"We had to modify the area. Engineers sit differently," Zieve said. "We had the kids sitting in a line."

Zieve hired a certified teacher and Zieve's wife, Maria, a former teacher, helped out each day.

"The space looked good," said Zieve, who added that his eye is not necessarily trained to see every possible issue. "There are things that I couldn't see."

Zieve brought in his architect, accompanied by a city inspector.

The inspector indicated that the space could not work because of safety issues.

Zieve agreed with the inspector's opinion and shut down the classroom at the end of day Oct. 2.

"There were access, egress issues – people getting out in case of a fire," he said. "I thought we were good. The standard for schools is different than for employees. If (my architect) can't come up with a solution, no one can come up with a solution. ... That's all I need to know."

Electroimpact owns another building that used to house the Workforce Development School. Zieve said that the company is planning to remodel the building with the goal of reopening the learning center. He said he thinks most of the issues raised by the inspector could be addressed. How long the remodeling might take was unclear, he said.

Meanwhile, the Mukilteo School District had announced tentative plans to start bringing students back to classroooms later this month, but it has since altered those plans due to the rising COVID-19 case rates. On Friday, Oct. 9, the district said it plans to monitor the county's data updates before deciding on setting a new target date for the reopening of schools or delaying in-person instruction.

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