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Back to school: Seattle has tentative agreement to start bringing kids back to classrooms

There is a tentative agreement and a timeline for kids in Seattle Public Schools to get back in the classroom.

Leaders of the Seattle Education Association union have reached an agreement with the district on a plan for restarting in-person education for the city’s thousands of public school students that will give families the option of putting kids back in the classroom starting March 29th. The union’s members must still approve any deal.

Under the agreement, the district’s pre-kindergarten and elementary special education students will have the option to return to the classroom March 29th. Other elementary students and older special education students would have the option to return to the classroom on April 5th. The district and union still need to agree on a plan for return for  middle and high school students.

The district says kindergarten to fifth-grade families will receive an “Intent to Enroll Survey” to select a hybrid in-person learning model or to stay fully remote.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s proclamation requires the state’s public districts to provide an option to attend in-person in at least a hybrid model by April 19th. Many kids are already making the change back to a more typical school experience. CHS reported last month on the many private schools around Capitol Hill and the Central District taking early first steps in returning their students to the classroom.

Seattle teachers and school kids transitioned to online-only instruction last spring as the pandemic began to grow changing what it meant to “go to school” for thousands of kids who now begin their days logging on and using online meeting software and services previously reserved for their busy parents and guardians.

In the transition back to campus, kids will need to remain masked and routine elements like desk layout will need to be rethought to meet social distancing recommendations. The district has strengthened its push, designating special education teachers as “essential” to require those educators to provide in-person instruction even as bargaining drags on.

Earlier this month, Inslee and state officials added teachers and school staff along with daycare and child care providers to the ranks of essential workers currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

Targeted clinic efforts have been formed to help vaccinate teachers and school employees, Sunday, hundreds of Seattle education workers received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine at the city-run clinic in Rainier Beach. Demand was high but the city confirms it provided dozens of leftover shots to non-education workers as people wait every day at the site for possible extra doses. The Seattle Fire crews on hand to administer the vaccines serve the leftover crowd in reverse age order with the oldest standby participants at the site getting first dibs.


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6 months ago

Thank God, it’s about time.