UPDATE: The teachers union and the school district reached an agreement late Tuesday. The district has agreed to increase Covid-19 safety protocols. Kindergarten, preschool and special education teachers will return to the classroom March 3.
RENTON, Wash. - Preschool and special education students who were set to return to the classroom in Renton this week will have to wait: the Renton Education Association has voted to defy the school district's plan for reopening some grades.
According to the Renton School District, kindergartners will still start in-person learning on March 3. Substitute teachers, administrators and support staff will be in the classrooms instead of teachers.
Preschool and special education students were also supposed to start in-person learning March 3, but the district says it does not have enough substitutes with proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to replace the teachers who won't return.
There's no timeline on when preschoolers and special education students will begin in-person learning.
The teachers union says the vote to remain remote "sends a strong message" to the district about the health and safety of teachers.
They claim the district hasn't sufficiently addressed their Covid-19 concerns, though the district says the union had already approved the formal agreement to return to the classroom before they voted to defy district plans.
The district calls the union vote "an illegal work action" and says they have been bargaining with the REA for four months.
"The Renton Education Association’s action ... is an unfair labor practice," the district says on its website. "More importantly, it is disappointing and creates confusion and concern for our families who chose in-person learning for their children."
The Renton Education Association held a press conference Tuesday to give an update on their decision:
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