BACK TO SCHOOLS? Full results of district’s family preference survey

This week is midwinter break for Seattle Public Schools – no classes, remote or otherwise. By early next week, the district has promised an update on the plan to offer in-person learning again for preschoolers through 1st graders, as well as special-education students on “intensive pathways.” The district has also finally released full results of its survey of families whose students are eligible to return to school buildings. They’re published here. The survey was open January 5th-19th; the district reports that of the 10,742 eligible students, 46.8 percent of families said they want their student to return to in-person learning, 40.9 percent preferred to continue remote learning, and 12.3 percent did not respond. Breaking the results into demographic groups, SPS says white families had the highest support for in-person learning, 56 percent, while Asian families had the highest support for continuing remote learning, also 56 percent. The district also surveyed staff and says 30 percent want to continue working remotely. The district says the responses from families and staff “were used to develop proposed instructional models and create sample illustrative schedules that have been proposed to Seattle Education Association in the ongoing negotiations.” A separate district update says those negotiations are continuing this week and that the district has requested a mediator’s help. (Here’s the union’s own latest update.) Once an agreement is reached, the district says, it will survey families again.

19 Replies to "BACK TO SCHOOLS? Full results of district's family preference survey"

  • doyowoy February 15, 2021 (9:34 pm)

    Interesting that the majority of White families prefer in-person instruction, while at the same time, White people have disproportionately been vaccinated compared to people of color.  At the same time, people of color have been disproportionately been impacted by COVID-19 (death rates, infection rates).

    • JJ February 16, 2021 (7:02 am)

      When it gets real do black lives actually matter? These are actual black lives on the line with Covid. Families are devastated by death and chronic illness when someone brings home the virus. If black lives really mattered to SPS they would be working with the city and health department to get vaccines to their black families, and everyone else too. They need to do more than sloganeering.

      • neighbor February 16, 2021 (9:32 am)

        This strikes me as a really unfair assertion: “If black lives really mattered to SPS they would be working with the city and health department to get vaccines to their black families, and everyone else too. They need to do more than sloganeering.” SPS does not have any control over vaccine availability.

        • AmandaK February 16, 2021 (11:04 am)

          True Neighbor, but they do have control over when kids resume in-person learning.  I agree with JJ, SPS should make a stand and say until teachers, and BIPOC families are protected, no in-person learning.   That might motivate White people to demand vaccine priority go to those who are most vulnerable. 

          • neighbor February 16, 2021 (12:42 pm)

            @AmandaK, I agree 100% that in-person learning should wait until everyone can be vaccinated, and that’s how I responded to the SPS survey. That’s not at all what it seemed like JJ was saying. Perhaps I misunderstood his intent. 

  • SPS Teacher February 16, 2021 (3:07 am)

    For the record, the district’s survey of teachers did not ask us whether we “wanted” to continue teaching remotely. They didn’t ask for our opinions at all. It only asked if we qualified for an accommodation to continue working remotely such as age or a medical condition. I’m assuming that 30% number is teachers who qualify for and would request an accommodation to opt out of in-person learning. This does not mean 70% of teachers want to return to in-person learning. 

    • Anne February 16, 2021 (7:42 am)

      Thank you for clarifying.  

    • Tim February 16, 2021 (8:14 am)

      Yes. I also do not recall being asked if I wanted to return, or if I thought it was safe. I do not currently have confidence that we can return safely at this time. I also think the return process will be very disruptive. Likely it will involve some hybrid that I have yet to see fully hashed out.  Ask any principal how difficult it is to build a normal schedule. If we did it now, it will include many students having new teachers, and maybe new classes. Some classes might have to be cancelled. (Vocal music?) Even in a normal year, there is a transition period as students learn the building, expectations etc. Last year the mid year shift to remote was a disaster. A mid year shift now won’t be smooth or easy. And, if things go badly with the numbers, we could shift back again. We need to wait for more stable numbers.  It has only been just over a month since we had devastating numbers and the vaccine rollout is not going as well as we hoped. I have children too. They have needs that would be met better in school. But it isn’t worth it.

      • WSB February 16, 2021 (9:24 am)

        If anyone still has the text of the survey sent to staff, I would be interested in seeing it – to my knowledge, it was not publicly released (unless it’s for example buried in an agenda packet. I try to read through those but don’t always get to). The district’s news release, linked above, does include language about accommodation; perhaps “need” would have been a better choice of words on my part. – TR

        • HighPoint February 16, 2021 (10:04 am)

          I don’t have the actual text but it was ONE question. Do you want your student going back to in person learning? YES or NO. The answer was binding. If a parent said YES their student would be channeled that direction, if NO then they would stay online for the remainder of the year. If surveys went unanswered the student would automatically be channeled to online. SPS presented this as a once and done survey. Honestly, calling it a survey don’t seem accurate, it was more like a procedural step than a survey. At no point did I ever think the district was asking my opinion about a theoretical opening. It was more of a step in a process to group students into those who would stay online and those who transition to in person. However, as soon as I read the initial email I knew SPS would use the results as leverage during union negotiations. 

        • Hmmm? February 16, 2021 (10:07 am)

          SEA told its membership not to respond, if I remember correctly.  I do know that SEA has sent several staff surveys, which I appreciate. 

          • wsteacher February 16, 2021 (3:56 pm)

            Many of us teachers responded to the survey before SEA sent out their email. The SPS survey just asked if you were going to apply for an accommodation.

    • concerned bipoc parent February 16, 2021 (10:32 am)

      If we’re having our overwhelmingly BIPOC grocery store workers return to work around grocery stores with hundreds of customers a day I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask our overwhelmingly white teachers to return to work in small group settings.

      A lot of the debate in whether to return to schools seems to be placing the lives of white teachers above our hardworking BIPOC grocery store workers.

      A white teacher’s life is no more valuable than a BIPOC grocery store worker and we need to stop acting like it is.

      • Math teacher February 16, 2021 (1:48 pm)

        @ Concerned BIPOC Parent –  BIPOC grocery workers are at risk when there is community spread. If opening schools increases the overall community spread, that increases the risk to BIPOC grocery workers and other essential workers.

        I agree that we should not pretend that white teachers are more valuable than BIPOC workers.  We should watch out for biases that go in that direction. In my head, that value  translates to the idea that we should not re-open until our BIPOC educational staff, including non-teaching staff such as bus drivers, janitors, food service workers and student success coordinators, are vaccinated, even if our white parents are clamoring for in-person learning, even if our white teachers are vaccinated.

    • Jim February 16, 2021 (11:00 am)

      Thanks I totally believe what you are saying. I bet many schools district have teachers fill out survey that are not the question that teachers really want to answer but are formulated to how the district think that the survey results may lead to and ignore the real issues that teachers are concerned about on a daily basis.  I know of a teacher who worked in a different district and the school constantly ran out of toilet paper. 

    • SPS Family March 6, 2021 (1:35 pm)

      For the record, it is your job. Your job is to teach. Your job will be to teach students where students show up to be taught, period. Do you think grocery clerks get to keep their jobs if they want to stay home when stores are open? I am a nurse, do I get to stay home when patients are in my unit at the hospital ? No. 

  • CommonSense February 16, 2021 (12:49 pm)

    Zero deaths in WA 3 days in a row! Cases are dropping daily. News on Covid vaccines is awesome. Looking forward to helping kids that desperately need to be back in the classroom. So sad to see so many kids losing all the opportunities of in person education. 

    • JJ February 16, 2021 (5:36 pm)

      It is sad to see students losing learning time. Online learning is not as good as learning in person for most students. On the other hand sick or dying parents or grandparents is a huge distraction for children. Many children cannot afford to lose the health of a family breadwinner or caregiver. Major family upheavals often lead to very large learning losses. Grief over the loss of a parent can frequently result in a repeated grade for a child. When it is safe to return to classes I hope children will be assisted to make up for lost learning. There are many who will need an extra year. I hope we can all support those students, and normalize the situation for them when it is safe to return. Education is not a race, especially now. Hopefully vaccinations will continue to speed ahead, and soon we can be completely done with this epidemic.

    • support teachers February 16, 2021 (6:39 pm)

      Fyi, 540 patients were reported hospitalized with covid yesterday in our state. That’s a lot of people seriously ill, and who could die. Let’s have some awareness and respect for those currently in the hospital fighting for their lives. We should focus on preventing more severe illness and deaths, not rejoice and demand things return to ‘normal.’ Also, not cool that SPS did not truly survey their teachers and staff regarding returning to classrooms. I think they should absolutely have a voice in the decision.

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