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caption: School busses line up at the end of the school day on Monday, January 7, 2019, at Garfield High School in Seattle.
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School busses line up at the end of the school day on Monday, January 7, 2019, at Garfield High School in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

It's not clear when Seattle students will return to the classroom, despite teacher vaccine priority

Teachers in Washington state are now prioritized for coronavirus vaccinations. But it remains unclear when most Seattle kids and teachers will head back to the classroom.

Seattle Public Schools and its teachers union still have yet to reach a reopening agreement.

In a statement shared with KUOW, Seattle Education Association President Jennifer Matter said that while she welcomes the vaccine news, more safety protocols are needed.

“We insist that the District focus its energy to work with educators in good faith rather than trying to circumvent the bargaining process,” she wrote.

Previously, the Seattle School Board had announced a plan to for some staff and kids to get back in the classroom this month, which did not have union support.

According to Nicole Grant, President of the King County Labor Council, “the educators are taking their responsibility for keeping students and their families safe very seriously.” The Labor Council is an umbrella group that includes Seattle teachers and more than 100 other unions.

In a separate letter, Grant urged the school board to respect the bargaining process. But it’s not clear how long that will take.

“If I was betting my money on my kids, I would say the fall,” Grant said.

"There are enormously complex and sensitive issues to work through as we plan for the start of the 21-22 school year," she told the school board.

However, Grant said she does not speak for the Seattle teacher’s union and is not directly involved with collective bargaining. The Seattle School Board could not be reached for comment by the time this story was originally published.