Seattle Public Schools just announced progress in its talks with the Seattle Education Association, in the dispute over the district’s unilateral declaration that some staff is “essential” and must return to campuses this week to offer in-person learning for Special Education “intensive pathways” and preschool. The district just tweeted that it’s canceling that order, as the union had asked. Here’s the text of the tweets:
It is in the best interest of our students, staff, and families that SPS and SEA are unified in our approach to a return to in-person learning. We are close to a tentative agreement on the return of PreK and Special Education Intensive Service Pathways.
Together, we commit to bargaining an agreement so these students can begin in-person learning services on March 29th. In response to this joint commitment, SPS is rescinding its order from February 25 designating additional staff as “essential.”
Staff that support these students will return to buildings as early as March 22 to receive health and safety training, set up classrooms, and prepare for students. SPS and SEA will continue negotiating the return of K-1 grade students as directed by the School Board.
SPS and SEA also said in an emailed, jointly issued news release:
Today, Washington State Department of Labor & Industries and an independent HVAC contractor, together with SPS and SEA leaders, reviewed the readiness of multiple SPS school buildings. While this was not a required reopening step, it was an important one to help ensure staff and families are confident in the district’s adherence to Washington State Labor & Industries, Washington State DOH, Public Health – Seattle & King County, and federal CDC guidance and recommendations.
At the conclusion of this walkthrough there were no major issues identified. However, SPS and SEA together agreed that school staff could benefit from additional time to prepare to offer the safest, most equitable in-person learning environments possible in every SPS building. SPS and SEA’s bargaining teams are negotiating in good faith to reach an agreement this week and allow the time needed to ratify the agreement.
So bottom line, the first group of students to return won’t do so before March 29th.