Washington Education Association: ‘We cannot responsibly support a return to school buildings for in-person learning’

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The union that represents teachers and school employees in Washington says it does not support the return to in-person teaching this fall.

This comes as districts across the state are making plans to welcome students back to school in some capacity. Many districts in the Puget Sound area plan to begin the school year with remote learning; school districts in Spokane and most of Eastern Washington plan to provide a combination of in-person and remote learning.

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Districts have until the beginning of August to submit plans to the state superintendent’s office for approval.

On its blog Wednesday, the WEA wrote that it demands “safety first in any plans to return to school this fall.”

It says that “in-person teaching and learning is best for both students and educators and educators want nothing more than to get back into schools with our students.” But the note continues to say that the COVID-19 spread is nowhere close to being contained and that the health and safety of students, educators and families are at risk.

“We cannot responsibly support a return to school buildings for in-person learning this fall. We call on Governor Inslee to continue leading with science and safety and declare that schools will open remotely this fall.”

Thursday afternoon, during a press conference, Governor Inslee said the guidelines each school district has to comply with this next school year are set. He’s still leaving it to each local community to decide what school days will look like.

“The infection rate and the need for communities to reach their own decisions, including listening to the advice and desires of educators who are right there in the classroom. That is very important for those communities to continue those discussions,” Governor Inslee said.

The union says districts need to use the time between now and the start of school to prepare for quality remote learning.

You can read the full blog post here.