IN-PERSON LEARNING: Where Seattle Public Schools’ plan stands

In case you’ve lost track of the status of the plan to re-start some Seattle Public Schools in-person learning: Though the goal voiced by the district back in December was to return preschool, kindergarten, 1st grade, and special-education “intensive pathways” students to campuses on March 1st, the district and the Seattle Education Association are still negotiating. Last Friday, the district announced that it had declared the “intensive pathways” and preschool staff as “essential,” and would expect them back on campus next Monday (March 8th), with those students starting in-person classes (with their families offered the option to remain remote) on Thursday, March 11th. The district’s latest update on this is here. Meantime, SEA’s latest update is here. The union’s board considers the unilateral “essential” declaration illegal and “unionbusting,” and is recommending that those covered by it continue working remotely. SEA is having a 5 pm meeting tonight to consider that and other recommendations, and another meeting tomorrow for the members who the district has declared “essential.” The union’s update from Monday includes both district and SEA links to proposals, counterproposals, and comparisons.

25 Replies to "IN-PERSON LEARNING: Where Seattle Public Schools' plan stands"

  • lurker10989 March 3, 2021 (2:04 pm)

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Educators, students, and families are all doing the best they can. But the union doesn’t control the buildings or the health and safety of the people in them. That’s the school district’s job. Seems like people are forgetting that. Teachers and students have been in school, just not in buildings. Seems like taxpayers should be upset about how much they spend on those if they’re not going to be used.

  • Sam March 3, 2021 (3:02 pm)

    Interesting twist. If in-person learning is not “essential,” that raises a lot of questions about the physical plant and how many teachers we need.

    • JJ March 3, 2021 (6:18 pm)

      By labeling certain staff “essential,” SPS is trying to get around meeting standards for their safety. It is an under-handed move. No one is saying in-person learning isn’t essential. Educators deserve to have their safety needs met first.

      • M March 3, 2021 (7:18 pm)

        I’m genuinely curious- what specific safety needs are not being met? 

        • teacher March 4, 2021 (12:13 pm)

          PPE is not being provided as they are currently out. These are for staff members that are working with kids that cannot mask and some are students that may cough, spit towards a teacher without being able to cover their mouth. I am not sure of all of them, since it is a big district. 

      • Pessoa March 3, 2021 (7:53 pm)

        What “safety needs?”  Is the Seattle public school system so different that they can’t open like other school districts have done with standard safety protocols?  What ever happened to “follow the science” and recommendations from the CDC and other scientific organizations that have vouched for the safety of re-opening schools?  These are simply strong-arm tactics from a union, bargaining in poor faith. 

        • teacher March 4, 2021 (12:16 pm)

          My sister works in a different district that clearly outlined their safety protocols and put systems in place before reopening. SPS district has not outlined anything for teachers before telling the media that SPS was reopening. SPS talks to the media first. That is the strong arm tactic that the union is complaining about.

          • Pessoa March 4, 2021 (3:40 pm)

            There are reasonable safety protocols and then there are unreasonable safety protocols.  SEA is insisting on unreasonable safety protocols.  Again, most of the evidence available to us indicates that is is SAFE to return to classrooms with the exception of a few who need accommodation.   As some have said indignantly, the union’s only duty is to it’s members not to students and parents – and boy, have they made that that loud and clear. 

      • Sam March 3, 2021 (9:33 pm)

        Other essential positions are working in conditions less protective than what the union demands. That’s part of what defines them as essential. Just saying something is essential doesn’t make it so.

    • BoulderBlue March 3, 2021 (9:41 pm)

      By acknowledging certain special education kids can’t succeed with virtual schooling, SPS is trying to make the best of what’s been a challenging year for everyone. It is a judicious move, one that many parents of these kids would say is happening too late. No one is saying safety is going to be disregarded as part of this move. Educators and kinds deserve to have their safety needs met while ensuring those furthest from educational justice get the direct care they need to survive.

  • tethyr March 3, 2021 (3:28 pm)

    Seems to me that the union has forgotten about all of our children.  Stop making excuses and get the kids back in classrooms.

  • Pessoa March 3, 2021 (6:08 pm)

    As someone who was a member of a bargaining unit many years ago, and am familiar with the “us against them” echo chamber of a union, I urge SEA rank and file to step away from some of the board’s hyperbole and objectively assess whether or not returning to the classroom poses an actual danger.   If you decide, “yes,” fine.  This has nothing to do with being anti-union; this is something the kids deserve from the supposed “adults” in the room.    

  • Canton March 3, 2021 (7:52 pm)

    An honest question for the teachers. Are unions tying this up, or are the majority of the teachers reluctant? In my 1st graders case, her primary teacher has been willing to teach in person for a few months now. The other 1st grade teacher is more comfortable online, which is cool, some families want that. From what I was told, this was the route the teachers, not the union, were heading.

    • JJ March 3, 2021 (8:09 pm)

      Unions ARE teachers. They are democratic organizations, not outfits forcing teachers to act a certain way. And teachers are just like any segment of the population–we hold a variety of opinions. This complex situation doesn’t have a simple solution that will make everyone happy–goes for teachers AND families.

      • pessoa March 4, 2021 (7:58 am)

        Nonsense.  I have been in a  union hall in the past with a lot of highly emotional members – in my situation considering a strike vote.  It is like ANY other assemblage – union or not – where the most most  militant and unreasonable voices dominate the conversation.   In my case, our union made a ill-advised decision to strike based on unreasonable demands, and it was a disaster.  The solutions necessary to keep everyone safe in schools are are already mostly in place.  This is the SEA employing silly counter-productive, inflammatory language (“union-busting) and stall tactics.  Again, I am not anti-union, but I loathe group-think.   

        • zark00 March 4, 2021 (4:55 pm)

          @ Pessoa – Nonsense is your assertion that “solutions necessary to keep everyone safe in schools are already mostly in place” – the ‘solutions’ are not in place, not even close.  SPS can not meet even the basic CDC guidelines for PPE.  Where did you get your info that everything is in place and it’s safe?  It’s 100% untrue. 

      • Canton March 4, 2021 (5:36 pm)

        JJ, totally understand your point of view. I completely understood when March last year schools were closed. Nobody knew what was going on. Summer… get it, take the summer to chill.  September, alright, online learning starting. Oct, Nov, Dec, what’s the plan? Jan, Feb, Mar, where are we at? I don’t fault the teachers, just the union leadership, and upper administration. With the CDC guidelines already in place long ago, the reopening plan should have promptly followed. Why won’t the union allow the teachers that want to return,… return. Solidarity?

    • link March 3, 2021 (10:06 pm)

      WSB: the SEA update has a link embedded in it that is still “live”. Please delete that in your post so that the union data is not skewed by the public.

  • Katysey March 3, 2021 (10:01 pm)

    Hello let me introduce myself my name is katy and I’m mother of 3 kids Kayden, Liam and Mason.In my perspective I wouldn’t let all my kids to go to in person learning because it’s not 100% safe and also  all the teachers and stuff takes the vaccine it doesn’t mean it will be safe.My recommendation to start the school year next year full year around and also summer it would help a lot it will be less COVID-19 virus because of the weather is warm and hot. Hope you take my recommendation seriously and rethink about it to open the school back in person learning.Thank you katysey

  • Kim March 4, 2021 (9:46 am)

    Hot weather does not slow down the spread of the Covid virus 

  • High Point March 4, 2021 (9:58 am)

    As a parent, I 100% support our teachers and SEA. The comments above are simple reactions to the current moment. I honestly believe that this whole situation would have been made easier if SPS began with a comprehensive plan in support of teachers, staff and students. The capstone fell and the structure crumbled when SPS made their non-annoucement last June about the 20/21 school year. At that moment the district should have stood hand-in-hand with the union and made a grand announcement including online/hybrid trainings for teachers, safety protocols, and thresholds for reopening. Tangible things for parents to look for to know their children are going to be taken care of. They should have also been honest and said that most of the school year would be online and that reopening would happen when thresholds were met. If we want our children to learn and not just be babysat, then SPS needs to invest in teacher trainings and stop trying to fit a circle into a square and calling that their plan.

  • TM7302 March 4, 2021 (11:17 am)

    Time for the teachers to go back to school.  If they continue to hold us, our children and their education hostage, it will be remembered when it comes time to vote on the school levy.  Everyone says follow the science, well it says, it’s time for in-person school to start.

    • zark00 March 4, 2021 (5:02 pm)

      @TM7302 – You think the teachers are ‘holding our kids hostage’?  I can’t even believe you typed that and it wasn’t a joke.  They have been, and continue to, teach our kids every single day.  SPS on the other hand has failed to cover even the most basic CDC guidelines for returning to in person learning.  You couldn’t be more wrong if you jumped up and down on your keyboard and posted the random characters. You anti-union rhetoric is vile, and you’re opinion is a dumpster fire. 

  • Jeffrey smith March 4, 2021 (9:10 pm)

    All these parents that want to bring back their child to in person learning don’t be selfish. COVID-19 is not a joke, I am single dad my daughter is the only person that I love the most and I don’t want to put her life on danger taking the vaccine it doesn’t mean the virus is go away. You never know if the students got Covid-19 

  • Sigrid Brunet March 15, 2021 (11:28 pm)

    Teachers have been working one of the hardest years of their careers. I can assure you it’s about 10 times easier to teach in person than remotely. Anyone commenting about how we are not working hard, or need to get back to work is truly misinformed. We are at work every school day–just in our basements, or closets, or sometimes cars if that’s the only quiet place.

    As a veteran teacher I assure you we would all rather be in the classroom than online! Remote teaching is not what we trained for. No one I work with prefers it to in person. Everyone would like things to be normal–or at least nearly normal.

    Sadly, the SPS did not plan ahead to make sure resources and safety precautions would be in place to protect students and teachers so that classes can begin in person again. Other districts have provided PPE, updated old HVAC systems, and made other moves to be as safe as possible during this time. Seattle Schools….didn’t.

    We are facing a teaching shortage that will only grow as a result of the pandemic. Teaching is so often a thankless task, and this year has brought challenges none of us prepared for. Have you ever walked someone through a computer issue remotely? Now imagine there are 20 of them, every day.

    I have the luck to work at a supportive school with wonderful students and parents who know that this year is horrid for everyone, teachers included.

    So please thank a teacher, and don’t fall for the amazing plan to, yet again, throw teachers under the bus for things out of their control.

    TLDR–Teachers are working themselves sick remotely, and SPS let down teachers, students, parents, and Seattle by not doing the same to make things safe for our staff and kids.

Sorry, comment time is over.