UPDATE: Governor orders schools to reopen, citing mental-health crisis among students; Seattle district says it needs ‘time to analyze’

11:39 AM: Almost exactly one year after he ordered schools to close, the governor says he’s issuing an emergency proclamation to “give every K-12 student” the “option” of in-person learning. (Watch his briefing live above.) He says there’s “now undeniably a mental-health crisis” for youth and so it’s imperative that they have the opportunity to go back. He adds that “the order allows for staggering the re-introduction”:

*By April 5th, all elementary students must have the option of in-person learning
*By April 19th, all other students must have the option

He underscores that districts “are still required” to follow health/safety precautions. He says his order will require at least two in-person days a week. He acknowledges that returning to in-person learning won’t instantly solve the mental-health crisis, so other measures will be taken to address that.

11:47 AM: The governor turns the microphone over to state superintendent Chris Reykdal. He says about 50 percent of the state’s students are already getting some in-person learning. He expresses concerns such as a high absence rate in middle and high school, and an increase in F/incomplete grades for their work, with a 50 percent jump in students as a result not getting credit for coursework, so “this is the time for us to double down” – reopening “needs to be sped up significantly. … The science says we can open schools up safely.”

11:56 AM: Swedish‘s director of pediatrics Dr. Nwando Anyaoku is speaking now. She says they’ve seen a dramatic increase in children needing emergency attention for mental-health crises “and that’s just the tip of the iceberg … that’s something we can’t allow to continue.” She’s followed by Dr. Peter Asante, from the board of the Washington state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The “impact of school closures (is) now at epidemic proportions,” he says. Masking, screening, ventilation are among “simple strategies that work” to keep everyone safe – so far outbreaks at schools have been “highly uncommon.”

12:10 PM: They and the governor all reiterate that the pandemic has brought inequities into the light and work to remedy them will have to continue long term. Inslee now moves on to media Q&A. He’s asked what changed enabling him to make this kind of order, since he’d said before that he couldn’t, and what happens if unions/district defy it? “Look, this is a legally binding proclamation,” he replies. But “we’re not here today for threats, we’re here for success.” As for the authority, he cites the new information about the mental-health crisis: “We’re responding to the new science that we have. … The conditions changed. The scientific information changed. The authority did not change – the conditions did not exist in which (we could) use the authority.” He also says vaccination of educators should not be an issue, as “they have an almost exclusive” access through the federal pharmacy program, along with access via other channels.

Pressed again, what happens if a district says it can’t meet the new deadlines? “That’s not going to happen because we know they can,” Inslee insists. “… Schools are making it work in every imaginable (type of) district across the state of Washington.” He declares the situation a “win-win-win,” and also reiterates that this is an order to offer the option, not to require families to send their kids back to school if they’re not comfortable with it. (Still no reply to the question of what happens if the order is defied.)

12:41 PM: The briefing is over. The archived video should be available in the same window above shortly. We’ll be updating as reaction comes in.

2:46 PM: Here’s the official statement we obtained from Seattle Public Schools:

Seattle Public Schools has been working to bring back our students, beginning with our most vulnerable, for in-person instruction: students receiving special education services and preschool students.

We are in active negotiations with the Seattle Education Association for a safe and successful return. We have a plan and have been on track in partnership with SEA to come to an agreement that would return these students beginning on March 29.

The governor’s proclamation and details will be released on Monday. We will need time to analyze the details of the proclamation and determine the impacts for our students, families, and staff.

3:26 PM: A spokesperson for the Seattle Education Association tells WSB that the union has no official comment yet.

7:15 PM: Here’s what SEA has sent to its membership, noting, “With our bargaining team in non-stop bargaining, we have not had time to fully process how this will impact the current negotiations.”

110 Replies to "UPDATE: Governor orders schools to reopen, citing mental-health crisis among students; Seattle district says it needs 'time to analyze'"

  • John March 12, 2021 (12:01 pm)

    Am I remembering right though that it’s supposed to be 2 weeks between adult vaccination shots for the teachers, and two weeks after that for it to be fully effective? So they would’ve had to have been given their first shot no later than March 7th in order to return to in-person teaching on April 5th?

    • Emily March 12, 2021 (12:39 pm)

      The newest vaccine by Johnson & Johnson only needs one dose but I know it was just approved by the FDA in the last week of Feb so not sure if it’s being given out yet.

      • Brian March 12, 2021 (2:39 pm)

        Even with one dose there is a waiting period for effective antibody production to take place. It isn’t an immediate thing. 

        • SLJ March 12, 2021 (3:25 pm)

          The state expects to get Johnson & Johnson vaccine soon, and there are many places that are prioritizing school staff in the next couple of weeks. So, if teachers and staff get their J&J vaccine in the next 2 weeks, they will be ready to go in a month. With any of the vaccines, you are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after the final dose (2 doses for Moderna and Pfizer, 1 dose for J&J). 

    • Blbl March 12, 2021 (2:34 pm)

      Lots of us still have to go into work whether we are vaccinated or not.

      • KWestSeattle March 12, 2021 (3:07 pm)


      • concerned realist March 12, 2021 (5:57 pm)

        Schools are a much different environment and with many more people in attendance than most workplaces, not to mention all sharing the air for hours at a time.

        • 1994 March 12, 2021 (8:54 pm)

          Isn’t the plan to return at reduced capacity in each classroom? Labor & Industries did a walk through this week of several schools with the union in attendance and L & I gave a ‘clean bill of health’ for reopening the schools. The teacher union is dragging it’s feet! and being unreasonable. Good to hear the gov is stepping up!

      • Brian March 12, 2021 (6:50 pm)

        We aren’t crabs and we aren’t in a bucket. What is good for a fellow worker is good for all. 

  • Hillary March 12, 2021 (12:04 pm)


    • Anne March 12, 2021 (12:33 pm)

      Finally what?  Teachers ( who want it) should be fully vaccinated for a safe return to school. If it’s so imperative that kids get back into in person class-then  the health those that teach them should be  imperative as well. 

      • M. Noodle March 12, 2021 (1:38 pm)

        Teachers are essential workers.  Prioritize vaccinations for sure!  But,  like grocery workers, nurses, transit operators, police officers, etc. ,  you have to suck it up and do your job if you are essential.  I haven’t spoken with one teacher who doesn’t want to be back in the classroom vaccinated or not.  

        • PedroTheLion March 12, 2021 (3:06 pm)

          The “finally” was in reference to the fact that we are finally being driven by the SCIENCE and the CDC; both of which say we can safely reopen the schools. 

  • StopCuttingDownTrees March 12, 2021 (12:15 pm)

    WAY too late. Irreparable damage has already been done to tens of thousands of our youth. Tragically, many have turned to substance abuse and suicide. The science showed kids should’ve been back in school months ago.

    • Stats? March 12, 2021 (1:01 pm)

      Can I ask what your source is for claiming many kids have turned to substance abuse and suicide?

      • Blbl March 12, 2021 (2:30 pm)

        There are loads of sources supporting this fact, even if you ignore anecdotal evidence and common sense.  Start with the Kaiser Family Foundation or the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

      • StopCuttingDownTrees March 12, 2021 (2:32 pm)

        The youth suicide statistics from 2020 are staggering. There have been school districts where multiple students have taken their own lives during the closures. This is only one of hundreds of stories on the crisis:https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/02/02/962060105/child-psychiatrists-warn-that-the-pandemic-may-be-driving-up-kids-suicide-risk

        • 1000amys March 12, 2021 (5:53 pm)

          What evidence proves that the mental health issues are caused by schools being closed, versus caused by being in the middle of a global pandemic and having to choose between socializing with peers (which to teens is a developmental need for most) and potentially bringing a deadly disease to their friends and families? Or for younger children, not being able to visit grandparents? I have no doubt that children and teens are suffering mental health issues during this global pandemic. I have no evidence that the schools being closed is the direct cause of it. I think that’s what’s confusing many of us, is the governor’s sudden insistence that opening the schools will address pandemic-related mental health issues. 

          • concerned realist March 12, 2021 (6:03 pm)

            Well said, @1000amys, my thoughts on this too.

        • Well ya March 12, 2021 (10:16 pm)

          Stop cutting down trees. How about being a parent to your children instead of your nanny. Stop blaming the governor for these issues.  This is a w w pandemic that has affected everyone.  People have to change to how things are changing around them.  No more status quo. BE A PARENT TO YOUR KIDS

          • West Sea res March 13, 2021 (11:49 am)
            1. Well said. Too much focus on schools reopening and not enough focus on the parenting crisis in this country. You would be shocked to hear what some students tell teachers in virtual class – and what teachers see and hear. Being isolated with a parent or two who is unable to be present mentally is very common
      • Rick March 12, 2021 (4:14 pm)

        It’s the dem fact machine.

    • The King March 12, 2021 (1:15 pm)

      This move has more to do with politics and money than science. All of a sudden we are ready to send the kids back to school, reopen the economy, send everyone back to their jobs if it’s still around. Yay.  When just a few months ago it seemed these same people were ready to let it all burn. Now we can just ignore the variants that are fifty times more contagious when there’s a big pile of federal money on the table to stuff those kids back in the classrooms. 

      • Resident March 12, 2021 (6:39 pm)

        Now all of a sudden science is questionable. When trump was president it was all about science, now science is foolish?

    • concerned realist March 12, 2021 (6:09 pm)


      This perspective, that school closures are the direct cause of the increase in mental health issues among kids, is just adults looking for something easy and systemic to blame, it’s a scapegoat.

  • Kim March 12, 2021 (12:25 pm)

    I don’t think lots of teachers who pay out of their checks monthly to be protected and supported by a teachers union will be happy, not all schools are set up to provide safety measures for Covid in my opinion.  Many schools are extremely old and some are new.  Parents will be happy if their children are the ones who go to a new school and not an old building. How can schools who run out of toilet paper and other supplies be able to buy enough cleaning supplies to clean classrooms daily?   I bet it will be the teachers who do the cleaning because janitorial people will have their hands full.   I’m glad to hear students will be going back to school and it will be interesting to see how they are able to pull it off. Having students go 2 days a week is a joke. Might as well send them back to school 5 days a week. 
    ** Teachers are going to need tons of help for behavioral issues since most children have been at home for over one year and will have to relearn how to behave at school and follow new rules due to Covid.

  • Parent of special Ed kid March 12, 2021 (12:49 pm)

     Thank you Governor.

  • happy March 12, 2021 (12:59 pm)

    Stopcuttingdowntrees, Oh my Gosh, you are right it is way too late. However, perhaps this will be enough to salvage the rest of the year, and I for one am so happy for my student to get back into the classroom and make some connections with their teachers. Maybe now we can have an in person graduation for the Seniors!!

    • What'sWrongWithYou March 14, 2021 (9:59 pm)

      Kids survived Auschwitz, kids survived Sarajevo, kids survived Falluja.  And you’re OK with risking the lives of teachers so kids can have an in-person graduation. Frivolous and gross.

  • M March 12, 2021 (1:23 pm)

    I just started crying tears of joy when I heard this.  I truly didn’t believe it would happen…I even questioned if they could go back in the fall.  Maybe they wouldn’t have if the governor didn’t do this.  Thank you, Governor Inslee!  

    • S March 12, 2021 (1:45 pm)

      Same! And I’m so glad that this includes all students, not just up to 1st grade. 

    • 5th grade parent March 12, 2021 (2:12 pm)

      M – I am so glad I’m not the only one.  I started tearing up as well.   Just a reminder to people – if your kids are struggling they can make an appointment with their schools counselors.   There is a shortage of elementary age counselors in West Seattle and it’s even harder to find one that works with insurance if you have it.   Our child has met with his schools counselor to get help dealing with some anxiety and crying jags due in part to difficulty following asymmetrical learning and it was very helpful.   Teachers are helpful  but don’t forget to ask for help from the other staff if you need it as well. 

      • WS Teacher March 12, 2021 (7:34 pm)

        IF your school is lucky enough to have a counselor. Some local schools are not. And many that do have them are funded by PTAs. 

    • Brian March 12, 2021 (2:41 pm)

      Meanwhile there are a lot of us who would rather not send our children to the plague factories to receive a lifetime of medical consequences. 

      • PedroTheLion March 12, 2021 (3:09 pm)

        Meanwhile it’s a CHOICE on whether or not you want to send you child back to school.  And of course there’s the science which supports reopening. 

        • Brian March 12, 2021 (6:52 pm)

          You keep repeating this bs about “the science” while cherry picking which science you want to adhere to. It’s irresponsible and downright evil. 

          • Canton March 13, 2021 (7:01 am)

            Wrong. The “science ” locked us down, we adhered.  The “science” is now opening us up. We have been told to follow the science. The science is no longer convenient to some. Some of us have been working in the community ever since this started. All I get is a face diaper and alcohol hand wash for protection,  and it’s worked out fine.

      • Resident March 12, 2021 (6:41 pm)

        There is no evidence at all to support your claim I regards to children.

  • Thd3 March 12, 2021 (1:32 pm)

    Amen – this is the greatest news ever! 

  • Frog March 12, 2021 (1:38 pm)

    Making popcorn.  This should be good.  If the district points and the union, and the union points at the district, what is the Guv going to do about it?

    • WSB March 12, 2021 (2:27 pm)

      As noted above, he didn’t answer that question, multiple times.

    • 5th grade parent March 12, 2021 (2:52 pm)

      Oh man Frog, I really hope they don’t keep playing the finger pointing game.   It’s getting embarrassing to watch them slowly try to run the clock out on the school year, all the whole blaming each other.  It’s like a crappy version of a reality show.  It’s worrisome when the folks that are supposed to be our kids role models can’t figure things out.Maybe National Guard will come in and teach?   Ha ha. My kids would love that.

      • High Point March 12, 2021 (3:32 pm)

        @5th Grade Parent: You are not paying attention to what’s actually happening, you are only seeing what you want to see. SEA has asked the district for a clear re-opening plan and the district has refused to present one. Saying that both sides are to blame is just not accurate. I’m sure it makes for a good headline or talking point, but in no way rooted in reality.

  • Mrs. A March 12, 2021 (2:12 pm)

    I am so overwhelmed with emotions – grateful that we are finally prioritizing the mental health of our kids.  We are not mental health professionals, but are parents and can see the toll this has taken on our 2 kids and their classmates.  Our now 2nd grader – an extrovert – experienced overwhelming anger and depression at the inability to connect with her teacher and friends.  She fell behind in both reading and social skills.  My now 8th grader – an introvert – is doing well academically, but he really misses all his friends and the human interaction of school, and can see that many of his classmates are sad and depressed.  We have the financial means to work from home full-time and can see that nearly 20%-25% of their classmates are completely absent every single day of school.  The 2nd graders are sad either cry or interrupt and demand attention.  The middle-schoolers are depressed and talk about life not being worth anything.   This has been incredibly hard and we don’t need a study to tell us….we can see it every day.

    • Kim March 12, 2021 (6:04 pm)

      Teachers are also not mental health workers, they are teachers. Most schools only have one counselor per school. Maybe some issues children are having are not due to not going to school but due to the Covid and the stress it has created for adults and unemployment and they are sharing too many adult problems in front of their children.  Going back to school will not be the 100% guarantee that all students who were depressed will no longer be depressed, but it is only a beginning of helping them. 

  • flimflam March 12, 2021 (2:14 pm)

    Not sure what to ,ale of this sudden push to reopen everything when we are just months away, maybe less (fingers crossed) from large scale vaccinations.the virus isnt gone yet just because we’re tired of it. We are all weary of what covid has done to the last year but it seems foolish to reopen when vaccinations are so close.

    • flimflam March 12, 2021 (4:01 pm)


  • A-Red March 12, 2021 (2:26 pm)

    Before anyone gets too excited that this is actually happening, know that there’s debate whether the Gov has the authority to re-open the schools (and whether he had authority to close them in the first place). I expect those opposed to this order will challenge it in the courts, and I expect that whole process puts a big question mark over this timeline.

  • Smittytheclown March 12, 2021 (2:28 pm)

    So happy for everyone with children.  This is long overdue – based on science and other states that have proven its possible to safely open. What a shame for this generation.  Hopefully they can catch up over time without too much damage.

  • M. Noodle March 12, 2021 (3:10 pm)

    If the teachers won’t go back (strike? I’m guessing virtual) can’t we just get people who are willing to teach to fill in until the real teachers are comfortable?   For sure not as beneficial as having the professionals return but better than nothing for lots of the kids I know.   I’m normally 100% behind unions but this one is losing my support…rapidly.  I’m guessing my support isn’t relevant to their power —-just a thought.  

    • High Point March 12, 2021 (3:38 pm)

      @M. Noodle. There’s actually a job title for what you are suggesting, they are called Babysitters. I for one would 100% support the idea of the state paying for babysitters. I wouldn’t use it during a pandemic , but I love the idea.

    • Shufflerunner March 12, 2021 (6:32 pm)

      I agree, let’s just let any rando that wants to teach be in charge of a classroom of small children. Also, don’t worry about background checks. I’m sure nothing will go wrong. 

      • M. Noodle March 12, 2021 (8:05 pm)

        A background check only takes 48 hours.   This wouldn’t be a blocker.  

        • Ice March 13, 2021 (1:23 am)

          You’ve never actually had to teach anything to anyone, let alone a class of 30 kids, have you?

          • M. Noodle March 13, 2021 (4:48 pm)

            @ICE  You caught me!  I’m no match for your jello-sharp intellect.  Good grief.  Why so grumpy?

    • Brian March 12, 2021 (6:54 pm)
      • I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you think you support the idea of unions but when unions try to defend their membership (which is the entire point of their existence) you cower and change your opinion. Strange isn’t it?
      • M. Noodle March 12, 2021 (9:09 pm)

         I doubt the mission of a teacher’s union is simply to protect teachers. I want everyone to be safe and heard but this union is starting to come off as whiney and privileged.  If a union abuses its power it loses credibility —Police unions come to mind.  Not sure why things need to get snarky. 

        • K March 12, 2021 (10:59 pm)

          I’ve seen the proposal from SEA to SPS. SPS returned the proposal with almost every single line crossed out. The school district isn’t even trying to work with the teacher’s union. If either side is rapidly losing support, it shouldn’t be the teacher’s union or the teachers. It should be the school district who isn’t willing to budge on simple requests like asking for a safety plan to return to in person learning. And background checks have been taking way longer than 48 hours since the start of COVID. I think kids need to return to school, but not to be taught by people who aren’t trained to do so. And I doubt we would find enough people to “volunteer” to temporarily babysit our kids in a classroom to maintain small enough class sizes to meet both size requirements by grade, and to make sure kids and “teachers” can maintain physical distance. We need a solution, but both sides (SPS and SEA) need to work together quickly to get that done. And SPS isn’t budging. Teachers deserve our support, and the support of the district they work for. 

          • K March 12, 2021 (11:06 pm)

            I do think it would be amazing if the state would fund childcare, as many parents can’t afford daycare or private tutors. But they aren’t teachers, so while they may be able to watch the kids, and the children would benefit from the social interaction, teachers would still need to be paid to teach virtually in this scenario, in addition to the childcare providers. 

          • High Point March 13, 2021 (8:46 am)

            @K: Thanks for sharing your support of teachers. Most parent groups I’m in recognize the failure of the district. The readership of the WSB skews much more conservative (anti-union) then the general population. It’s crazy to see how quickly people take the bait from the district and then turn their backs on the teachers working hard to teach our children. I’m 100% convinced that the public outcry against the union is exactly what the district wanted to happen. I worry that the strong arm tactics of the district along with the public outcry against teachers will result in an exodus of teachers. 

          • M. Noodle March 13, 2021 (4:24 pm)

            Blind loyalty to a group doesn’t make you liberal.  Do you support police and prison guard unions regardless of their mission?  How concerned are you with all of the people trying to unionize low-wage jobs at factories and packaging facilities?   Why so much vitriol with concerned parents and/or taxpayers having an opinion. I support teachers and their union when they are fighting for fair wages, classroom size, etc.., teachers are the experts and the union does a good job backing them.  This is different.  Have you looked at the SEA website?  I only did as a sanity check to make sure I still backed their strategy and goals. I don’t.  “Stay The Course” at seemingly whatever cost with no clear goals.  Turning away confused kids who do return to the classroom? Their whole FAQ is shady.  I find their tactics to delay kids’ return to school sincerely shocking.  Believe what you want but they genuinely lost my support by overstepping.  I’m not the only one. 

          • High Point March 13, 2021 (9:18 pm)

            M. At some point when it’s safe to do so, you should get to know some teachers and listen to what their concerns are. 

          • M. Noodle March 14, 2021 (8:54 am)

            @H You misunderstand.   You assume I don’t know teachers or care about their concerns; the opposite is true.  As stated, my disagreement is with the union.  Many teachers are fine going back to the classroom.  Many families want the teachers back.  It’s their job to do so.  I’ve read the information provided by both sides and my opinion is that the union is overreacting.   The only result, pointless interactions on WSB with people I’d probably get along fine with IRL aside, is that I will be emailing SPS in support of getting kids back in school vs. emailing them in support of the union. 

          • Miriam Noodle March 14, 2021 (9:23 am)

            @H One last thing…I  hope :-)  My husband is a frontline worker. He rides his bicycle, due to the West Seattle Bridge, erm— issue, to work every day and has done so for one year.  He does it cheerfully, proudly,  and graciously despite constant exposure.  He has a union that does its best to protect him.  I’m a privileged white-collar worker and have complete control over my safety so understood if you don’t find my POV valid.  But what about all of the front-line workers who actually go to work every day but gave up their vaccine for teachers? And the union still won’t let teachers go back to work.   It sounds like (I hope I’m wrong) that now the union wants all kids vaccinated first.  If the angry union supporters on this thread could help me understand why this makes sense I’d genuinely appreciate it. 

    • Grateful parent March 12, 2021 (6:59 pm)

      I think you make a good point M Noodle.  Fortunately the daycare workers, community center and YMCA employees have been trying to step in the last year with “virtual learning centers”.    There are good people trying their best to be tech help and tutors to kids with different schedules and learning issues.   They have been in place for a year in gyms, church basements, and cafeterias.   Some of them probably don’t have healthcare, much less a pension.  No they are not teachers.  But I think they do deserve to be paid more for caring for our kids and trying their best to help tutor and fill in the gaps.

  • Educator March 12, 2021 (3:15 pm)

    I think it’s possible to open safely with the right safety conditions. However, it’s important to acknowledge that we are sending students back into buildings just in time for state testing, which has not been waived for this year. In a typical year, teaching basically grinds to a halt for a month or so in the spring so kids can take the SBAC. So many students who have not had the opportunity to learn in typical conditions will return to school, where they may or may not get to see any of their friends (since many kids will be going for half days with no lunch or recess), just in time to take a high stakes standardized test. State testing needs to be canceled this year if we truly want to focus on learning and social-emotional wellbeing.

    • Fellow educator March 12, 2021 (4:00 pm)

      Thank you! I am so ready to be back in the classroom but I don’t think people truly understand what a return to the classroom will look like for kids. We aren’t going back to normal school. Recess will be difficult if it is even possible. Socializing and small group work will be challenging and limited because we will need to maintain social distancing. To reduce passing papers and germs, much of the work will still probably be done on computers in classrooms that were never meant to be computer rooms. It will be a hot mess. I believe that it will still be better in many ways than virtual learning but I wish people would stop proclaiming that we will be back to normal. 

    • GHill March 12, 2021 (6:38 pm)

      I have some understanding around the issues of state testing in a typical learning environment but not in this situation. I’m wondering how they will accurately gauge learning loss. Is it possible this data would reflect poorly on educators and the district? Would it be in their best interest not to report on it? How can learning loss be measured?

  • 5th grade parent March 12, 2021 (3:53 pm)

    I will be super frustrated if we put Teachers at the top of the vaccination queue and then they aren’t able to teach.   My spouse is an essential worker for his company.  He has been going in for a year and we have no idea when he will be eligible.  But we are happy to take that risk and wait longer if it means the kids will be helped.

  • Lesley March 12, 2021 (4:01 pm)

    It isn’t too late to opt your kids out of state testing. I know at least for elementary, a simple letter/email to the teacher and the principal stating you would like to opt out of state mandated testing and prep and that is all you need to do. If they actually cared about the mental health of kids, these tests would be the first thing on the chopping block. The tests are notoriously racist and a huge waste of time. 

    • Kim March 12, 2021 (7:08 pm)

      Brovo! Extremely Excellent comment about state testing that should be posted every year! Also your students can still get into college without taking the state test, many schools tried to scare parents into if their teenager doesn’t take the state test they can’t get into college, many students are home schooled or go to small private schools that do not give students the state test. Yes, it’s true many private schools do give the state test.

  • Pessoa March 12, 2021 (4:37 pm)

    Stats?: I’m a stickler for evidence based conclusions, too, but I think we can go with Occam’s Razor on this one.  Any dramatic disruption or dislocation in life (even going back to school after a year) can set off anxiety and depression.  Parents: Keep open a line of communication with your kids.   

  • Gina March 12, 2021 (4:42 pm)

    Hopefully the large playgrounds that have been locked for a year can be utilized on nice days as outdoor classrooms.

  • Happy(?) March 12, 2021 (4:45 pm)

    Oh Boy…I guess we all need to put the brakes on our reactions about our Seattle publics school kids going back to school until we hear what the official response is from SPS. It sounds like this just might drag out and our kids will once again be the losers.

  • Nwe March 12, 2021 (5:39 pm)

    I can understand the push for elementary school kids to return as so far the science indicates they don’t spread covid as efficiently as adults. But I haven’t heard much about the difference between a 16 or 17 year old and adult on transmission. This is where I think the whole community should concerned.

    • Resident March 12, 2021 (6:50 pm)

      There are a lot of studies out there about t this age group. In addition look at the deaths and how few there are.

      • elarem March 12, 2021 (7:12 pm)

        The studies show that puberty is a good cut-off for risk. Adolescents definitely get and transmit this disease. 

  • concerned realist March 12, 2021 (6:27 pm)

    Good at least that the push is for the option of in-person learning to be available to those who feel ready for returning to schools now.

    I am concerned though that teachers may feel forced back into schools before they are fully vaccinated and feel safe.

    I am concerned for the kids that will be forced back by their parents when they would really feel better continuing to learn from home for the remainder of this hard year.

    I am concerned for the possible stigma and divide between students who return to in-person learning sooner and those who remain home this Spring.

    I am also concerned that we are really just missing the mark here regarding the cause of current mental health issues.

    Are the ‘school closures’ really the cause of the increase in mental health issues, or perhaps could it be because of the stress of a pandemic, of crazy parents and home stress, of adults in general being poor role models during crisis, not to mention all the social and political intensity in our country this year, and how about the climate crisis, and everything else of concern and uncertainty in the world?

    Somehow, I don’t think kids sitting in classrooms all day with masks on and social distancing, with teachers who may be stressed to return, is going to help with this new wave of mental health issues of todays youth.

    Perhaps it’s time for adults to stop scrambling, slow down, put down the beer, and get real.

    • Resident March 12, 2021 (6:52 pm)

      There are hundreds of thousands of people that have been working during this pandemic.  The science is very clear on this. Get the kids back in school.

      • Brian March 12, 2021 (6:57 pm)

        What about the hundreds of thousands of, you know, dead folks?

    • BigBuddy March 12, 2021 (7:38 pm)

      I like what you say.  I also believe parents of special needs children,  economically challenged  students of color and  English as a second language students have found that remote learning protects their child from the cruelest of discrimination. Unfortunately, our schools are all too often the province of “challenged “ administrators who see harsh, unappealable discipline  as a means to affirm their own self worth and to appear useful, often abetted by teachers lacking meaningful experience, training and support with these student groups or, after many successful years elsewhere the teacher was arbitrarily reassigned in some plug-and-play staffing scheme devised by a remote and deaf central administration. Parents of our most marginalized students may come to see remote or hybrid learning as a desired protective  option.

  • Get the kids back in school March 12, 2021 (8:31 pm)

    I hope they can reach an agreement with SPS and get all kids back in school.  I have to work full time but on the times that I come home on a break my middle and high school kids are half asleep barely listening to classes.  People saying they don’t know if not going to school is not causing the mental stress are crazy.  Of course staying home all the time, not interacting face to face with peers and teachers is causing mental anguish.  Humans were not meant to stare at computer screens all day, let alone growing kids.  It is obvious that this is causing mental anguish.  I’m thankful that the Governor finally said this, especially since he wasn’t advocating teachers to be vaccinated until Biden pushed it last week.

  • arabianrhino March 12, 2021 (8:47 pm)

    While returning for 2? months won’t salvage the year, it will hopefully prime the pump to get the B.S. objections out of the way for a full return in the fall.

    Europe and almost every state in the US,except for the west coast, has been doing in-person schooling for months and there have not been super spreader events. Private schools in the Seattle metro have been operating for month+ and have had no problems.

    One of the mysterious (lucky?) circumstances is that the kids are not vectors for Covid. It’s older, sicker, or obese adults breathing freely on each other. However, simple things like masks and staying home if you’re not feeling well, pretty much stop the spread. The whole 6 feet thing is silly. What happens at 5 feet, immediate infection? Most sneezes send droplets 10 feet plus. Wear a mask.

    Even in states where schools have re-opened the pattern is that the larger districts have the most resistance to in-person instruction. Between the Seattle Police Guild and SEA, the public sector unions’ actions and self-interest in the past year have alienated the society for whom they are supposed to serve.

    We should have had a national push for some kind of Teach for America program to take young and willing adults through a crash course in teaching to staff in-person schools. Use the stimulus to pay for the older teachers to sit at home. Select a few teachers that are effective to teach online at scale, and have the young in-person teachers facilitate in-person study groups and general activity. Let’s be honest, at least for K-5 there is educational instruction, but not that much. Most of the day is sliced into 20 minute sections of going here and there. Would it have been the best education? No. Better than what’s been packaged as online schooling? Yeah.

    If I have to listen to yet another NPR story about how ‘great it is that I get to spend time with my kid at home and they don’t interact with other kids but that’s ok because they just can study on a computer screen all day and everything is fine fine fine’ I’m going to lose my mind. I’d put my kid in a private school but they’re not taking new admissions.

  • TJ March 12, 2021 (8:51 pm)

    This is long overdue. Parents who aren’t comfortable with there kids going back to school this year can keep them home and continue remote learning. But, next school year all the resources need to be back to all teachers and kids in the classroom. Covid has exposed such a defeatist attitude in some people, some who think that remote learning is now a permanent thing moving forward and things “will never be the same”. Pushing for that will take resources away from the way schooling has always been done publicy. There has been private platforms for home schooling long before covid, and that is the route for anyone who doesn’t want to be in the classroom. 

  • TonyB March 12, 2021 (10:00 pm)

    20 + year former WS resident, married to a  current public school teacher… Even in the “gravel pit” of of Tucson teachers have received the shot(s) for hybrid, and soon full on  kids back in the rooms teaching. Can’t Seattle get their act together even a little bit???See:https://webcms.pima.gov/cms/One.aspx?portalId=169&pageId=669257

    • Ws prayers March 13, 2021 (12:38 pm)

      I so agree! My son had 2 birthdays (feb15th) he was behind anyways he was 17 then 18 now 19…if he wouldn’t have signed up for youth build in person learning pre-apprentiship program he would have lost hope. No way i could keep him in front of a computer all day plus he is diagnosed adhd? Oh no! This program has brought him hope .. for completion of high school and then some-we should have prioritized vaccinating teachers a long time ago -these kids lost so much time and if any kids has attention issues like mine does…. forget about it lol i mean they literally forget..  my prayers are with them with my son and other students i know this has been hard for both kids and families well and teachers too may God Heal and Restore what has been lost and may sucess thro perserverance endure!

  • concerned realist March 12, 2021 (10:04 pm)

    What is crazy is peoples intolerance for change of routine and impatience for things to return to ‘normal’ while things just really aren’t normal right now.

    What is also crazy is how many adults have seemingly forgotten what it’s like to be a kid. 

    School is hard. There are many pressures and stresses at school. Even during ordinary times, kids are counting down the days to summer break. Think back to when you were a kid… would you have been desperate to return to school during a pandemic, with a bunch of weird chaos and mitigation measures and stressed out adults teaching you?

    There are ways to foster connections and wellness for kids outside of school. If you haven’t been doing that parents, it’s on you, not the schools, and not teachers.

    • Andros March 13, 2021 (7:25 am)

      This is totally on point. I’ve read all these comments and serious it’s like watching a bunch of adults not take on their role of parenting. I’ve used this time to become closer to my family. We’ve spent a lot of time together learning new things. We’ve even gotten back to sitting at the kitchen table together and cooking and eating meals.And we’ve also adopted the two neighbor kids into our lives too to give their parents a break sometimes. Parents need to be flexible.  

      • Concerned realist March 14, 2021 (12:44 pm)

        Thanks @Andros, especially for sharing how your family has been coming together in this, and also welcoming in the neighbors kids. This is so encouraging to hear. I’m hopeful more families will try to embrace the opportunity for good and potential positive changes, that can be born of these challenging times.

  • Blown Away March 12, 2021 (10:42 pm)

    So crazy.  @Brian… are you really so afraid our little children will sicken the “sickest”?  You,  my friend are definitely the one who would (back in the day) and will… be the perfect homeschooler.  So hats off to you… homeschool!  Your house, life, family, will be sterilized from this crazy virus that is destroying public schools… Everyone- parents- you know what your child needs.  Do it.  Excited.  And @Brian… you will be fine… continue to homeschool, just know that this will save more “children” lives… maybe at the expense of an 100 year old grandma…who, logically, I would never let my son visit her if I were sick. Anyway… I think all parents should be stoked… because our children aren’t super spreaders, and we are all “smart enough” to not be around those when “feeling sick”.  All kids should be in school.  Because if you claim everything on “science”… well… 

  • Oh Heck No! March 12, 2021 (10:56 pm)

    Many of you keep saying Covid doesn’t affect kids but that is total BS. kids can get it, in 50% of cases they say are asymptomatic and will spread it to others, so that means teachers, parents, other family members.

    I’m all for returning in the fall when everyone has a chance to be vaccinated but to me, this is not science based or anything to celebrate, it’s COVID fatigue and nothing else.

    Every year my whole family gets the flu because some parents send their kids to school with a bad cough and a snotty nose instead of keeping them home and that’s basically what Covid can look like in a kid.


    In my daughters school which has over 600 students the reopening guidelines recommended by the CDC would mean that the classes would have to be less that 50% capacity and the days staggered to allow for proper social distancing.

    How is the teacher going to teach young kids and stay 6 feet away at all times?

    The CDC website states that:

    • The number and rate of cases in children in the United States have been steadily increasing since March 2020
    • Recent evidence suggests that compared to adults, children likely have similar viral loads in their nasopharynx, similar secondary infections rates, and can spread the virus to others.
    • Due to community mitigation measures and school closures, transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to and among children may have been reduced in the United States during the pandemic in the spring and early summer of 2020. This may explain the low incidence in children compared with adults.
    • While children infected with SARS-CoV-2 are less likely to develop severe illness compared with adults, children are still at risk of developing severe illness and complications from COVID-19. 
    • A recent systematic review estimated that 16% of children with SARS-CoV-2 infection are asymptomatic, but evidence suggests that as many as half of pediatric infections may be asymptomatic.
    • Kim March 13, 2021 (9:25 am)

      Yep! You said it! That’s how I got pneumonia was from a very young teacher who thought she was being such of a dedicated person by attending a workshop with a fever and extremely sick instead of being an mature adult  teacher and staying at home and taking the workshop another month.  

  • JR March 12, 2021 (11:26 pm)

    Is this a good time to reiterate that SPS surveys repeatedly show that their families are split nearly 50/50 on wanting to return vs. staying remote?  Makes me wonder about either side that makes it sound like the right answer is really so obvious…

    • RJ March 13, 2021 (3:52 pm)

      JR – Respectfully, the ‘right answer’ actually does seem obvious to me: the SPS surveys show that 50% want the option to have their kids go back. The governor wants to give them that option. My kids will stay remote (at least for a little while longer), but I completely respect parents who will opt for on-site on day 1. The commentariat loves to paint this issue as a two-party debate; I just don’t see it that way.

  • Chris d March 12, 2021 (11:42 pm)

    Analysis paralysis 

    • Person March 13, 2021 (8:18 am)

      It’s the Seattle way!

  • WS resident March 13, 2021 (3:30 am)

    The great thing is for all the parents freaking out, you get a choice and can continue to keep your kids home for the remainder of the school year.For the parents that are ecstatic about this news you also finally get a choice to send your kids back to school, part time! As a private school teacher who has been teaching in person since September with not one incidence of Covid spreading in my classroom.  It is time for public school teachers to get back in the classroom.  They are eligible and are getting vaccinated, so the excuses need to end.  Mask up, wash or sanitize hands often and get back in person.  Also, sharing some supplies or passing papers doesn’t transmit the virus, especially if you are wearing masks and not putting your fingers in your mouth.  I started off being really strict about this but soon realized that it was a moot effort.  Also, shockingly the kids in my classroom are often not 6 feet apart (unless they are eating) and again there has not been 1 case of Covid.  In fact, there has rarely been any sicknesses, even colds this year due to wearing masks!

    • High Point March 13, 2021 (10:29 am)

      Your characterization of parents who opt to remain online as “freaking out” is offensive. I’m not a school teacher but I have enough brain cells to know that transitioning to a new teaching mode this late in the year will be disruptive for my child. I know my child can return to in person learning safely, but it’s takes a plan. Something the SPS district has yet to produce. The leadership there is a joke.

      • WS resident March 14, 2021 (9:13 pm)

        Sorry you were insulted by the freaking out part.  The issue is if we wait for SPS to have a perfect plan the school year will be over, and next fall will approach fast and they still won’t have a perfect plan.  Because their is no perfect plan.   All I was saying is for parents that don’t feel comfortable with the plan then they can keep their kids home.  Really it’s a win-win for everyone!  Teachers are getting the vaccine, parents who want their kids back to school will finally have that choice for at least a couple of days a week.  Parents who ‘aren’t comfortable’ get to continue to keep their kids home.  I hope that by fall my kids will be back in public school full time.  If not I will be looking into private school options, which we cannot really  afford but will make sacrifices to make it work.  I was completely behind waiting for public school teachers/personnel to get their vaccinations but now that they’re eligible and have been getting the vaccine it is time to get back into the classroom.Also, I have several friends who are SPS teachers and staff and they all want to get back in the school building/classroom. No one became a teacher to sit at home and teach on a computer all day.  I know 2 teachers who quit mid-year because their mental health was suffering sitting at home and not getting to interact with the children like they were meant to do.

      • WS resident March 14, 2021 (9:16 pm)

        Sorry you were insulted by the freaking out part.  The issue is if we wait for SPS to have a perfect plan the school year will be over, and next fall will approach fast and they still won’t have a perfect plan.  Because their is no perfect plan in a pandemic.   All I was saying is for parents that don’t “feel comfortable” with the plan then they can keep their kids home.  Really it’s a win-win for everyone!  Teachers are getting the vaccine, parents who want their kids back to school will finally have that choice for at least a couple of days a week.  Parents who “aren’t comfortable” get to continue to keep their kids home.  I hope that by fall my kids will be back in public school full time.  If not I will be looking into private school options, which we cannot really  afford but will make sacrifices to make it work.  I was completely behind waiting for public school teachers/personnel to get their vaccinations but now that they’re eligible and have been getting the vaccine it is time to get back into the classroom.Also, I have several friends who are SPS teachers and staff and they all want to get back in the school building/classroom. No one became a teacher to sit at home and teach on a computer all day.  I know 2 teachers who quit mid-year because their mental health was suffering sitting at home and not getting to interact with the children like they were meant to do.

  • Shell March 13, 2021 (7:22 am)

    Science has become as political as everything else.

  • Margaret March 13, 2021 (8:36 am)

    It’s nice to see Dr. A on TV from West Seattle Swedish. We loved having her as our pediatrician for the last few years.

  • East Coast Cynic March 13, 2021 (10:49 am)

    I’m not eligible yet, but when I am, do I have the ability to schedule an appointment for a specific vaccine, e.g., Pfizer rather than Moderna and J&J, assuming I’m willing to commute  beyond West Seattle to get it?

    • MercyMoi March 14, 2021 (7:19 pm)

      East Coast Cynic – when you research sites with available appts, the vaccine they’re using should be published somewhere. Like, I’m not sure if there’s a lookup tool to find where Pfizer is offered, but if you try to register for a site and then you find out that they’re using J&J, for instance, you could cancel. My understanding is there is one vaccine at each site. My friend got the Moderna at the SWAC site, I got Pfizer through Kaiser (Renton).

  • CO March 13, 2021 (3:01 pm)

    No matter what your thoughts are about this as I read through theses comments I see so much suffering here. I hope we can all just be kind and understanding of and for each other. 

    • Pessoa March 14, 2021 (12:27 pm)

      Unfortunately, that is an illusion when both sides are at cross-purposes.  From my perspective, the lock downs have caused irreparable devastation to countless people in countless ways – with little or no recognition or understanding from those the other side, most of whom have not suffered significantly. The vast majority of those like myself are willing to wear masks, to socially distance, to take other precautions  even if means putting someone else at ease.  I see zero sense of flexibility from those on the other side, only callousness and cruelty, and they are always those who pretend to  be enlightened, the scientific literati, of course.  Bitter? Cynical? You better believe it.

  • V March 15, 2021 (10:10 am)

    90% of us are on the SAME “side.”  We want children back in school without endangering the kids or their families.  The safety of teachers is also important but they are eligible for the vaccine. We obviously aren’t aligned on the urgency and approach but let’s make sure SPS and SEA understand that we want this resolved. The SEA has a form letter that auto sends a message of union support to the School Board and Superintendant Juneau   You can write your own letter as well.  For people who think SEA has overstepped, you can send your support to the SPS using the addresses listed below. Seattle School Board and Superindent email:

    Lisa Rivera-Smith

    Seattle Public SchoolsEmail:lisa.rivera-smith@seattleschools.org

    Chandra Hampson

    Seattle Public SchoolsEmail:chandra.hampson@seattleschools.org

    Zachary DeWolf

    Seattle Public SchoolsEmail:zachary.dewolf@seattleschools.org

    Leslie Harris

    Seattle Public SchoolsEmail:leslie.harris@seattleschools.org

    Brandon Hersey

    Seattle Public SchoolsEmail:brandon.hersey@seattleschools. SEA (union form letter) Link: Washington Education Association (washingtonea.org)

  • V March 15, 2021 (10:17 am)

    For parents still recovering from the confusing form letters they got from SPS late last month here is the SEA FAQ . It explains why you’ll now be getting form letters in response to educator questions.    It also outlines SEA strategy for “Stay The Course”.  <p>https://www.washingtonea.org/file_viewer.php?id=44971 </p><p> </p>The FAQ also helped me understand why even the teachers who want to go back are hesitant to say so publicly.

Sorry, comment time is over.