Dozens quarantined, Monroe district continues plan to expand classroom instruction

Dozens of kindergarteners in the North Sound are sheltering in quarantine. All the kids involved went to Frank Wagner Elementary because they may have been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19.

On Thursday, the local teacher’s union complained about feeling left out of the district’s plan to resume in-person instruction for first graders. They go back to class on Monday morning.

“This is where I cry,” said mom Alison Bradley. “It’s been rough.”

For Bradley, the hits just keep coming in 2020. The latest bombshell was in an email informing that her 5-year-old needs to quarantine until nearly Thanksgiving.

“We’re going back to Providence to get testing,” she said.

Late Friday the Monroe School District confirmed 39 students and 3 staffers from Wagner were advised by local health officials to begin quarantine. The rest of the class is now distance learning just like Bradley’s child.

Despite the quarantines, the district continues plans for first graders to return to class. Following state and local health departments, school officials insist the data shows kids will be safe even as new infections across the region continue breaking records.

“We have Covid fatigue,” said Washington Education Association president Larry Delaney.

He worries districts expanding classroom instruction may be moving too fast even with local health officials’ approval.

“We need to ensure that it’s safe,” he said. “Right now we don’t have the capacity to do adequate tracing or testing in our school systems.”

Monroe’s local teachers’ union complained Thursday that district officials left them in the dark for Monday’s plan to welcome back first graders.

“I would say now is the time our members decide what our next steps will be,” said Robyn Hayashi.

Members are meeting Friday evening to explore their options. School district officials said they planned to hold a closed-door meeting to discuss bargaining.

Options for dozens of families with kids already back to school wonder if parents’ concerns are also being heard.

“The teachers, they’re not being heard,” said Bradley. “Parents are out there going, wait a minute.”