MUKILTEO — Cars lined up Wednesday afternoon at Endeavour Elementary School.
Instead of picking up students, parents were fetching laptops.
The suburban school has been closed since a fire early Monday. Now, it’s shifting to remote learning until after winter break. Zoom classes were set to start Thursday. Community agencies are pitching in with meal distribution and child care.
The overnight fire that tore through one section of the school took 43 firefighters over three hours to extinguish. Other areas sustained smoke and water damage.
Mukilteo School District spokesperson Diane Bradford said alternative options, such as holding classes at other schools, were not feasible. About 450 students attend the school at 12300 Harbour Pointe Boulevard. Each has an assigned laptop.
“Distance learning was the most expedient decision to get students back to learning,” Bradford said.
Maintenance crews cleaned and moved the laptops to the gym for staff to organize and hand out to parents in their cars.
Mukilteo Fire Department Chief Glen Albright said firefighters were dispatched to a fire alarm around 1:30 a.m. Monday. Other units assisted.
“The fire burned through some of the trusses and we had to cut multiple holes in the metal roof to make access to the fire,” he said. “There was active fire up until about 3:47 a.m.”
Albright said the county fire marshal was investigating the cause of the fire.
“It’s definitely nothing suspicious,” he said.
The fire was in the ceiling in the hallway south of the library and office. Water damage is from sprinklers and hoses, he said.
On Wednesday, a fence blocked the side entrance. A few scraps of roofing debris were scattered on the ground.
Jennifer Kwong, Endeavour PTA president, changed the letters on the sign by the road to read “EN Strong.” EN stands for Endeavour.
Kwong, whose son is a fourth grader, said the fire rattled families.
“It is scary. We all cried,” she said. “We are trying to get together to see what the next steps are.”
Her son was upset that he could not get his recorder musical instrument. Students and staff were not able to retrieve other belongings from the school.
The PTA is collecting money and books to replace damaged items.
“I don’t think any amount of insurance can cover the love we had in the library before,” Kwong said.
Distance learning this time is different from COVID because kids are familiar with the process and allowed to see their friends.
“We are better prepared for it,” Kwong said. “It is still difficult as a parent.”
Lessons from the pandemic helped the district respond to the demands.
“We learned from COVID the key things that we needed to stand up right away: student meals, child care, laptops, things to get them connected at home,” Bradford said.
Pointe of Grace Lutheran Church, 5425 Harbour Pointe Boulevard, opened its entryway for the district to distribute breakfast and lunch for students receiving reduced or free meals.
“We are here to help,” the Rev. Pam Miles said.
She offered the district use of inside space for online learning for students hunkered on their laptops.
“Kids don’t need to be isolated, ” she said. “We have two large open spaces. We could even have indoor P.E. in the sanctuary. No pews. They could run laps in there.”
The Boys & Girls Club of Snohomish County opened the Mukilteo center for Endeavour students already in the child care program. The district is arranging staffing for daytime supervision starting next week.
A family night is set Friday at the YMCA for people to gather.
Winter break starts Dec. 18. It has yet to be determined if classes will be in-person when school resumes Jan. 2.