Seattle schools, teachers union reach tentative agreement for in-person learning return date

After weeks of negotiating, Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Education Association have reached a tentative agreement on the safe return to in-person learning. 

The tentative agreement includes allowing pre-kindergarten and elementary special education intensive services pathways students back into classrooms first on March 29.

All other elementary students whose families choose the in-person instructional model and secondary special education intensive pathway students will start on April 5.

Kindergarten to 5th grade families will receive get a survey later week with an opportunity to select the in-person instructional model or 100% remote learning. 

"The agreement focuses on creating safe learning environments and supports special education inclusion by keeping students with IEPs in class with their general education peers. This tentative agreement is being brought to the SEA membership to be ratified and to the SPS Board of Directors for approval next week," a joint statement read.

RELATED: Seattle families growing frustrated with impasse between teachers and school district

The union and the district been at odds over when to return to in-person learning and how it would be done. 

SEA has said teachers won't go back until the district agrees to certain agreements in writing, which range from communication protocols around outbreaks to educator leave rules around quarantine and making sure families who want to stick with remote learning don’t get left behind.

The district and the union have agreed on a hybrid (in-person part-time and remote part-time) instructional model where students would attend either morning or afternoon in-person class four days a week, with remote teaching and learning on Wednesdays. 

Students can still be 100% remote, if they choose.

RELATED: State says mental health crisis behind directive to reopen schools

Once both organizations ratify the tentative agreement next week, more details will be available.

Bargaining continues as SEA and SPS now focus on coming to an agreement to bring middle and high school students back to classrooms.

The district and the union have been in negotiations even before Gov. Jay Inslee signed an emergency proclamation requiring all Washington public K-12 schools to provide a remote and in-person learning plan next month. 

The move comes as the state aims to address mental health concerns among students as a result of prolonged remote education. 

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