SEATTLE - For another night, families are waiting in limbo as Seattle Public Schools continues its negotiations with teachers over how to safely return to in-person learning amid the pandemic.
The school district is planning on bringing preschool students and some special education students back into classrooms on Thursday, even if teachers don’t show up.
A school spokesperson told Q13 News that several hundred central staff members will fill the gap.
On Monday afternoon, the Seattle Education Association held a meeting to express their desire to return to the classroom for in-person learning, but only after an agreement is reached between the union and district.
"The importance of partnering is that we need that communication to be clear so that when families are making a choice about in-person that they are informed about what they are sending their students back to," said Jennifer Matter, the teachers union president.
The Seattle Special Education Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) has been advocating for more in-person services since last spring. At last check, the president said only about 140 students out of 8,000 special education students are receiving some form of it.
"At the same time it’s also disconcerting hearing from SEA, the teachers union, about their concerns regarding the safety protocols and whether they’re being implemented appropriately and in a way that will protect everybody’s safety and health, teachers and students," said Janis White, president of the Seattle Special Education PTSA.
White said Seattle is behind in serving this group of children compared to neighboring districts in King County.
Sara Waisanen is a parent with an 8-year-old special education student at Lafayette Elementary. She said her son is now going to school in-person for about an hour a day four days a week.
"I still don’t get how we’ve gotten this far and have to have another conflict to the gains that we’ve just gotten," said Waisanen. "Our kids with disabilities, so many doors are closed to them already that they just have to open school doors. At first, start there, get them back in the building."
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