Seattle Public Schools to resume classes Tuesday after offering COVID testing to students, staff on Monday

Seattle Public Schools just sent an announcement reiterating that it plans to resume in-person classes after winter break – but the first day of classes will be Tuesday, after the district spends Monday offering COVID testing to all students and staff. Here’s the announcement:

No School for Students Monday, January 3

We are happy to announce that we now have 60,000 rapid antigen tests available for staff and students, which were provided by the Washington State Department of Health. In light of the surge in COVID-19 transmission in our community due to the Omicron virus, we’ll be using these tests to support a healthy return to school.

Seattle Public Schools will offer voluntary, universal testing for SPS staff and students on January 3.

This means there will be no school for SPS students on Monday, January 3. School will resume in-person on Tuesday. There will be no athletic practices. We encourage families to contact their child-care provider to determine if they will be open on Monday.

Our goal in providing wide-scale testing is to minimize the transmission of the Omicron virus and reduce intermittent disruptions to in-person learning. Because 80% to 90% of positive cases are asymptomatic, identifying them before, and quickly after, classes resume will reduce the spread of the virus in our schools.

Meals on Monday, January 3

Buildings will be open during normal hours for those students who need to access meal services. All schools will serve grab-and-go lunches between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. for student meals.

SPS will offer testing in West Seattle at two locations, Denny International Middle School (2601 SW Kenyon) and Madison Middle School (3429 45th SW), both 1-4 pm Monday (January 3rd), on a walk-up basis, More info, including the consent forms, are at the bottom of this district webpage. ADDED: The news release about this adds that after Monday, “Through the week, PCR testing and rapid antigen testing will be available for students and staff at their school.”

54 Replies to "Seattle Public Schools to resume classes Tuesday after offering COVID testing to students, staff on Monday"

  • Duffy December 30, 2021 (5:10 pm)

    I like the principle idea here but do not like the fact that this is yet another day that will need to be tacked onto the end of the year. Could we not do a school day then testing from 1p – 4pm?

    • DogSweater December 30, 2021 (9:26 pm)

      So are you saying have all the staff and students go about their regular day (or an abbreviated version thereof) and THEN give them the opportunity to test? After they’ve all been together in close quarters with potentially the extremely contagious omicron? Hmm. I may see a small flaw in your “plan.”

      • Duffy December 30, 2021 (10:28 pm)

        Kids aren’t supposed to go to school if they are ill or symptomatic. Tell me genius; is this going to be a daily or even weekly thing, a mass testing situation to ensure kids aren’t sick? Or is this just something they are coming up with on the fly? Because unless they do this all the time, what will be the discernible difference in picking a “testing day” then sending everyone back rather than following the protocols they have been using all year? Even if the assumption is people were attending gatherings, how do we measure whether this is different than any other period of time? It hardly seems like a decision based on health policy. Either make everyone take a COVID test to come back to in-person learning, or keep doing what they have been doing.

  • TJ December 30, 2021 (5:18 pm)

    I get the feeling the district is preparing for going back to virtual learning. Maybe only a 2 week thing, but it would be the biggest mistake yet in this thing. Once again, kids aren’t affected by this to any degree (they admit 80-90% of positive cases are asymptomatic), yet they are the ones paying the highest price. People need to bombard the district with demands that their kids not be pons in this anymore. We can’t keep hiding from the boogey-man anymore, particularly when we know it isn’t scary now. 

    • Herongrrrl December 30, 2021 (6:22 pm)

      Huh, not scary now? Seriously?  For my 81 year old parents, one of whom has kidney disease? For my dear friend with poorly controlled diabetes? For my immunocompromised stepdaughter and several other friends? Any of whom could be exposed and die from a case my asymptomatic child brings home from school? Glad you aren’t scared, and hope you can look beyond your experience to others’ reality.I know many parents who are keeping their kids hone for at least the first week of school. You never know how covid will affect someone; it’s a novel virus, and recent mutations are definitely harder on kids than the first round was. Also enough people out there don’t think it’s important to get their eligible kids vaccinated that if they do get it, it could be worse. I don’t expect SPS to ever do the right thing (for example, how do families without transportation get to school sites for testing? Are the tests they are using reliable? If so many staff at a given school are too sick to work, how do we expect them to do online teaching?) but I also think right now it would be prudent to exercise the precautionary principle, if only out of respect for the hard working, burnt out staff who statistically do face a much higher risk of complications and death. I know, I know, as a country we have proven time and time again we don’t give a damn about children or teachers, but here’s a chance to give it a try.

    • Anne December 30, 2021 (7:00 pm)

      You do know there are more than just “kids” at school right? Teachers & other school employees matter as well. 

    • RealityCheck December 30, 2021 (7:04 pm)

      ***Pawns, not pons.Perhaps you should have spent some more time in school, then you’d not only have learned spelling, but also that schools have adults in the form of teachers, administrators, janitors, cafeteria workers, etc. So yes kids are not as affected, but God forbid an asymptomatic kid infect an adult who isn’t as lucky.

    • Ryan December 30, 2021 (9:34 pm)

      I completely agree, I sent an email to our kids principal at Fairmont Park Elementary letting them know that the decision makers for the Seattle public school and any other district reverting back to virtual learning are wrong and irresponsible!!!!! We all have our roles to play it’s time that the teachers stand up and do theirs without  making excuses

      • DogSweater December 30, 2021 (10:18 pm)

        Teachers making excuses? It’s a global pandemic and teachers have not stopped working. American society has created a situation where working families rely on schools for childcare. Teachers are expected to triage, provide daycare, and teach children. Please redirect your vitriol elsewhere. Teachers continue to work to fill all of society’s holes and this kind of feedback is rude and uninformed.

      • WS December 31, 2021 (12:41 am)

        Neither teachers or the principal of Fairmont Park decide whether Seattle Public Schools operates in person or remote. 

    • wseakell December 30, 2021 (10:29 pm)

      TJ – I completely agree with you and am sorry fear-obsessed people on the blog feel the need to attack your intelligence and empathy. Not only are kids rarely negatively impacted by a case of COVID, especially this milder Omicron variant, but also those that are at higher risk should be vaxxed and boosted by now, meaning any risk of dying from COVID, once again especially from this milder Omicron variant, nearly zero. I don’t understand how school districts could ethically go back to virtual learning, or why any parent would want to. That would be like never driving or riding in a car because there was a deadly crash, or not ever eating anything solid again for fear of choking. We are moving into the endemic state of this pandemic, where we’re learning to deal with COVID much like the flu. The flu, which is much more deadly to anyone than COVID is to children and those that are vaxxed. It’s time to accept that with widespread vaccinations and milder variants it’s ok to start moving into life lived in a more normal state. And yes, please don’t close the schools and cause more mental harm to our children. While we’re at it, it’s ok to unmask your children (and yourselves!) outside. Breath in that beautiful fresh snowy air and let your smiles shine! (Outdoors, not indoors … quite yet ;)

      • Alki Mom December 30, 2021 (11:24 pm)

        I 100% agree with you. It’s like people don’t want to move on. Vaccinated people are doing fine, kids are doing fine, Omicron is milder, let’s stop with these irrational fears.

      • Sasquatch December 31, 2021 (8:11 am)

        As a teacher this debate is always fun. We are all doing our jobs – whatever they are – and we’re going to do what SPS tells us – which will be based on science/resources/safety. recently had a conversation with a friend who is a professor in a teacher training program in Washington state at a public university. They are alarmed that the quality of candidates is diminishing year-by-year. There is already a serious shortage which will mean we return to remote learning. It’s not because this is what teachers want it’s because there aren’t enough of us. Constructive criticism is always helpful but random complaining by anonymous parents which is read by prospective teachers will make people not want to pursue the profession.Maybe some parents think the job is a cakewalk because teachers are always smiling and positive. That’s our job. Sometimes we are acting. Maybe they think education will be just fine with placeholders instead of people running the show.  Because sadly that is where we are headed

      • Mary December 31, 2021 (2:10 pm)

        Kids under 11 are not boosted.

        • wseakell December 31, 2021 (3:08 pm)

          Yes, but 5-11 y/o’s received their vaccination in the last 2-3 months (it was approved on October 29th) so their immunity is at the strongest level. The booster is because of the time since second shot; immunity wanes after time. Because they are not boosted has nothing to do with anything. They have just as good (or even stronger) immunity than those vaxxed and boosted. 

          • R December 31, 2021 (3:53 pm)

            I hope you are right. I couldnt find any article saying that. Only 35% of 5 to 11 year olds in king county got 2 shots. So if 50% who have been tested have covid why are they going back to school? They would spread it.Also why are they not requiring m95s?

  • Parent December 30, 2021 (5:34 pm)

    Why is the Test not mandatory? With people returning from travel and gatherings, the school district should require testing and only allow staff and Students with negative results to return in  person. 

    • Nick December 30, 2021 (8:48 pm)

      100% this.  

  • SeaVieu December 30, 2021 (6:17 pm)

    Hi WSB, I don’t know if I’m losing my mind or if you edited the title, but if so I think it’s a great reflection of what they’re planning to do as of now. I do not envy the folks having to make these decisions and I know our school’s principal has been dealing with outbreaks and dealing with Public Health and all sorts over the break. Plus snow. It’s just A LOT. 

    • WSB December 30, 2021 (7:44 pm)

      Headline is exactly what it was when we published the story (inside tip, the URL will always show if the headline’s been edited post-publication – our publishing system makes the URL from the original headline, and subsequent changes don’t change the URL) … TR

  • WS nabe December 30, 2021 (6:30 pm)

    It’s scary for people working in healthcare and feeling overwhelmed and scary for people who don’t have the money to be out of work for an illness (and perhaps are self-employed w/ no employees) and scary for people who are going through chemo, which could of course include teachers. I could go on. We need to keep thinking on a community level as much as possible; it’s not a matter of facts, it’s a matter of the will of people and leaders. The kids are being used as pawns by people who put profits over people, their right to not wear a mask over a person’s right to life. Even the kids see this. It’s very sad.

    • wseakell December 30, 2021 (10:40 pm)

      I would add it’s scary for parents who now need to find childcare Monday or miss work when they cannot afford to take another day off. And scary for parents who feel that virtual learning might be on the horizon, how they again will handle children at home – the childcare needed (cost, is it even available?), or the possibility of having to quit a job to stay home, and the children’s depression, the parent’s anxiety… If you add up the parents of all the children in school districts along with the children impacted by these decisions you’d get a VERY large portion of the community. Dare I say the majority of the community. So yes, let’s please think about and speak up about the impacts these decisions will have on the entire community. 

      • double masking December 31, 2021 (6:12 pm)

        Said parent might have to miss more work when their child brings covid home from school and infects the family.

        Taking one day to do some testing for a healthy return seems proactive and smart

        Omicron seems the spreading quickly and among those vaccinated too, not just unvaxxed.Have been hearing symptoms could be a little different for some… heavy fatigue, scratchy throat, nausea and other GI issues too, whereas the original seemed much more about cough and shortness of breath and loss of smell.

  • Flo B December 30, 2021 (6:39 pm)

    To those complainers that claim kids aren’t affected by covid. My bet is that if your child contracts covid at school you’ll be the FIRST to scream that SPS should have been doing remote learning.

    • wseakell December 30, 2021 (10:46 pm)

      I completely disagree with your comment. I don’t think ANY parent would be screaming at SPS that they should have been doing remote learning. Are you a parent of current school age children? Do you know how remote learning went for most parents last year? I think most parents of kids who get COVID in school would do like most do – treat the illness as needed with rest, fluids, and lots of love, quarantine, then go about life once it’s over. Maybe .00000001% would say they wished for remote learning, but I doubt even that, and who the heck would be screaming??. 

  • Parent December 30, 2021 (7:14 pm)

    So they have rapid testing available at the schools.  That’s awesome.  Can someone tell me why school is canceled?

    • mehud7 December 30, 2021 (8:34 pm)

      School is cancelled for the day to allow teachers and students to be tested.
      Better to do that ahead of time than risk teachers and students to be sent home on Monday should they test positive.  The District will also pay staff for four hours on Monday to plan for remote learning should it become necessary.  The day will need to be made up for both staff and students.

      • Parent December 31, 2021 (9:11 am)

        You get results in 15 minutes. 

        • double masking December 31, 2021 (6:27 pm)

          Maybe @ Math Teacher can help you better understand…

  • Z December 30, 2021 (7:16 pm)

    The news tonight said rapid tests have a lot of false negatives. Im not sending my 6 year old back to in person school. Also kids wear their masks under their noses, bus drivers dont keep their masks on, the kids eat lunch inside, the kids arent socially distanced in the classroom, and kids from other classrooms visit my childs classroom.
    And 50% of those tested are positive. Testing is not done enough.

    • K December 30, 2021 (7:58 pm)

      “50% of those tested are positive”Where on earth did you get that “fact”?

      • WSB December 30, 2021 (8:26 pm)

        That was cited in our story about the city test site limiting tests to symptomatic/exposed people until further notice. The briefing today noted that Auburn for example was up to 49 percent positive in recent tests. We don’t have the specific percentage for WS, however, nor do we have it for other testing sites.

      • Z December 30, 2021 (9:49 pm)

        Komo news today. Thats where on earth.49% auburn and 40% south king county.Plus there are false negatives to add to that.

  • WS resident December 30, 2021 (8:12 pm)

    I think the biggest mistake that the “blue “ states did was have virtual learning last year.  It was horrible for the majority of kids and many teachers too.  The rise of adolescent suicide and depression was so sad.  I supported it last year hoping we were saving our teachers but when compared to states that kept their children in schools and didn’t have more deaths from Covid I now think it was the wrong choice.  I think history will eventually show that was the wrong choice as well. My high school kids are already really worried that it will go back to virtual learning as they absolutely hated it.  Seeing how much happier they’ve been this year  compared to the depression last year from staring at a screen and not getting enough in person social interaction was really bad.  My kids are vaccinated and 1 is boosted (as my 15 year old doesn’t qualify) and they wear masks to school.  I’ll get them tested on Monday but really hoping these  schools  will stay in person🤞

  • WSDad December 30, 2021 (8:43 pm)

    A couple weeks ago my sisters daughter was diagnosed with covid. They immediately moved her to her bedroom to quarantine. My sister has horrible asthma and her son has down sendrome and a very week heart. Keeping her daughter confined to the room everyone in the family still got covid. Luckily they all had been vaccinated with two shots and waiting for boosters. Sadly her husband got very sick and was layed out for a week. I was very worried about losing my sister and her family. Luckily they all got through it. My sister lives in Plano, TX and the way they treat covid there is night and day compared to Seattle. I have two boys that go to Louisa Boren STEM K-8 and if the school is offering free testing and showing they are conserned about my child’s safety that makes me happy.

  • wsresident December 30, 2021 (9:02 pm)

    wait, voluntary testing? At the school? On a school day? walk up for ALL WS students at two schools? Sounds just what I would expect from SPS. No forethought, no planning. smh. 

    • Jennifer Cinnamon December 30, 2021 (11:16 pm)

      Now it isn’t a school day. Most parents won’t find the time to skip work to take their kids for an optional test since school was cancelled 

  • Sick December 31, 2021 (4:15 am)

    Omicron was not mild for our family. It was like a flu that goes to the chest. We’re not all over it. It could go long, but who knows. Everyone caught it. Vaccinated, boosted, previously infected, young and old- everyone caught it. It might be a little better for some, but it might be tragically worse for others. It escapes immunity of all sorts. And by the way, the regions ERs have been busy with Omicron patients, therefore many people do have it worse. It’s not mild, and it’s is very contagious. It only starts mild, then picks up steam. I guess some people are asymptomatic, maybe that will be your kid, maybe not. Also, the rapid tests aren’t working as well to pick up Omicron. A lot of cases are missed even when symptomatic. I just wonder who they think will show up for testing, is it indoors? Yeah, 49% positivity in Auburn, and their ER has been very busy. Anyway, good for SPS trying to see what they are dealing with.

  • SpencerGT December 31, 2021 (4:35 am)

    I think that this a good call.  What are they going to do if people test positive, though?  Have them call in sick the next day?

    • mehud7 December 31, 2021 (9:37 am)

      If a staff member tests positive they would go straight home to quarantine for 10 days.  If it is a teacher, the school would try to find a substitute.  Substitutes are in short supply, so chances are that a specialist or interventionist from within the building would be asked to teach the class.

  • Luke C December 31, 2021 (7:00 am)

    I’d normally oppose this, but it makes some sense when you consider how hard it has been to get a test and/or fast results. This provides such an opportunity.

  • Math Teacher December 31, 2021 (9:18 am)

    SPS-SEA operating rules for the year include this tidbit:    “School Closures. In the event that an entire school building/program needs to
    close for a quarantine, educators assigned to the school building/program will have one day of transition to prepare for remote instruction.”    Perhaps SPS has decided to do this all at one time for all schools?I really, really, really don’t want to go back to online teaching.  But where there’s a big spike in cases in a school, I don’t think they’ll have sufficient staff (substitutes, custodian, school nurse, administrators) to keep all schools open. 

    • Math Teacher December 31, 2021 (9:30 am)

      Here’s a graph of positive cases in Seattle since September (from King County’s Covid Dashboard) The schools and community did a great job Sept-Dec keeping in-school spread in check. But when community spread looks like this (even if most cases are mild) this will fill ERs and create staff shortages that impact every sector of society. Data from other countries give hope that the omicron spike will fall as sharply as it rose, but it’s a wild ride at the moment.

  • Brian December 31, 2021 (9:20 am)

    I have a kid in virtual sps schooling and making all schools virtual is the correct choice. Do it now. 

  • Mj December 31, 2021 (9:48 am)

    All SPS faculty and staff are vaccinated and all the students are eligible to be.  The science says the vaccines work, thus there is minimal risk.  

    TJ is correct, it’s time to move on!

  • Math Teacher December 31, 2021 (12:38 pm)

    @ MJ – The science says vaccinations reduce risk.  That’s not the same as what you just said.

  • JC December 31, 2021 (3:41 pm)

    I am so dissapointed in this school district’s theater and hand wringing while our students suffer emotionally and academically. Covid is barely a concern for this age group if you look beyond the hysterical headlines and examine actual data. Let’s completely betray our duty to our kids’ education and social development so 3 of them don’t get asymptomatic covid. Makes perfect sense.  But then again, it’s the Seattle way to bend over backwards to the most vocal and impractical among us.

    • Math Teacher December 31, 2021 (9:37 pm)

      @JC – And if too many staff are impacted at once, what would you propose? Just open school anyway – open the doors and shove the little ones in, leave them to their own devices to manage the school building?  

  • Chris K December 31, 2021 (3:46 pm)

    Shut it all down.

  • Pessoa December 31, 2021 (9:23 pm)

    This is not a matter of lack of sympathy for those dealing with Covid-19, or scoffing at the fears of the immuno-compromised, or the elderly, this is a matter of public health policy that must strike a balance between preventative measures to combat the virus and the tremendous costs of those preventative measures on the entire society.   I have a feeling that going into 2022, many of us – even those who might have supported stringent measures such as lock downs and/or mandates – are finally realizing that we simply cannot go on like this.   

    • wseakell January 1, 2022 (10:01 pm)

      Slow clap … very well said Pessoa! I wish people would allow themselves to adjust their mindset from fearful/fear based to how best and balanced we can move forward to live life now that most people are vaccinated. Maybe (hopefully) the new year will bring new perspectives for people that it’s ok to let our guards down a bit and start to move forward. 

      • Math Teacher January 2, 2022 (3:53 pm)

        My mindset is not “fearful/fear based.”  My so-called “mindset” is an inclination to assume that  the public health directives are generally science-based and worthy of respect,  a curiosity and open-mindedness about what on-going data collection will tell us, and a recognition that the scientific guidance is likely to change over and over again as we learn how vaccine protection wanes and that protection from prior infection may not protect against new variants, and as we learn which new variants may spread more easily. My “mindset” also has room to consider that local ERs are crowded, hospitals are being forced to postpone procedures, testing facilities are swamped, and booster appointments aren’t easily available for everyone. The situation is quite different from early December, even quite different from last week. 

      • Auntie January 2, 2022 (5:06 pm)

        It seems to me that letting our guard down has led to the explosive increase in omicron cases. I fear that you and Pessoa, while hopeful, are wrong. We need to continue to mask, stay home whenever possible, and avoid gatherings until this latest variant is under control. And don’t forget that delta is still out there lurking around. I am not an alarmist, just a realist.

  • testing January 2, 2022 (8:47 am)

    3 of my family members ended up getting Covid after a Christmas gathering. Everyone was vaccinated. I got sick too, but after two home tests and one PCR it’s negative. I’m awaiting one more PCR test result just in case.  Just got word from district HR that I cannot get tested at school tomorrow because I’m sick, I’m awaiting a test result and I was exposed to Covid. Do you really want me teaching your kids right now if I could possibly have Covid? I don’t think so. I’m not sure at this point if I can even teach the rest of the week. I know of other teachers that can’t go in as well. It’s a mess right now. 

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