Washington state says expect full in-person learning for fall term, unions say that is not guaranteed

With the state expected as of Wednesday to fully reopen June 30th, most parents are also wondering what schools will look like in the fall.

It's an important question to single dad Christopher Neugebauer who has an 11-year-old daughter.

"Hours sitting at the table, our dinner meals getting her homework done," Neugebauer said.

Due to hybrid learning, Neugebauer said some days he had to take his daughter, Nicole to work with him.

"Keeping her in the car with me while I finish my job and so it’s crazy," Neugebauer said.

Neugebauer says it is unfathomable at this point to think of another year of hybrid learning.

It’s a concern the top educational leader of the state has to address repeatedly. 

RELATED: Expect larger kindergarten class sizes in some schools across Washington state this fall

Weighing current COVID-19 data, Superintendent Chris Reykdal says he expects every school district to open at 100 percent in person, as in the full hours and days just like before the pandemic.

"We will be weighing in aggressively on the side of in-person with all the safety protocol in place," Reykdal said.

That’s where the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction stands but how do the unions representing teachers feel about it? It will boil down to union negotiations with district administrators.

"I can’t promise that fully we just don’t know what the health and safety requirements will be for next year," said Jared Kink with Everett Education Association.

Kink’s answer is reflective of what many union leaders would say at this moment.

"Nobody wants to overpromise everybody wants to say this is what we are planning for," Kink said.

RELATED: Seattle Public Schools gets approval from board to submit recovery plan to OSPI

It’s not the type of definitive answer parents like Neugebauer was hoping for.

"What we are having now it just didn’t work," Neugebauer said.

The single dad says his daughter attempted to do the work but he is wondering if she understood the core concepts of the lessons provided. 

"This year she had a hard time grasping all the information that was given," Neugebauer said.

Reykdal says the latest data shows many students will have a lot of catching up to do.

"We saw students getting no credits and incomplete more than ever that’s a fairly large jump," Reykdal said.

For example, the latest high school data shows that in 2019 there were around 7 percent of all courses resulting in no credit, in 2021 that number is up by nearly 12 percent.

RELATED: Seattle Public Schools going 'all in' on in-person learning for next fall

"I am not worried that the US history teacher didn’t get to every chapter but do students understand the critical elements of conflict do they understand major themes in history and resolution," Reykdal said.

Although Everett Education Association didn’t want to overpromise, they say the goal is 100 percent in person in the fall. Kink says he is a dad himself and he is preparing for his children to go back to school.

Reykdal also made it clear that there is money tied to how districts reopen.

He also emphasized that fully reopening schools will not hinge upon kids getting vaccinated and he also does not expect vaccines to be a requirement.

 "If you think about the $3 billion the federal government added, the additional state funds the legislature added, there is explicit language, it’s for opening schools for in person learning," Reykdal said.

When it comes to masks, OSPI expects masks to be a mandate in schools this fall. Eventually if young children are approved for vaccines, the rules could possibly change. 

As for social distancing, OSPI’s expectation is that all schools follow the 3 feet rule. 

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