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caption: Second-grade student Nelly, right, plays with a bottle of hand sanitizer at her desk on Thursday, January 21, 2021, as second-grade students returned to in-person learning at Somerset Elementary School in Bellevue.
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Second-grade student Nelly, right, plays with a bottle of hand sanitizer at her desk on Thursday, January 21, 2021, as second-grade students returned to in-person learning at Somerset Elementary School in Bellevue.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle Schools may reopen March 29 after tentative agreement with teachers union

Seattle Public Schools and its teachers union have reached a tentative agreement to restart in-person classes for pre-K, elementary, and certain special education students.

Under the agreement, pre-K and elementary students who receive intensive special education services could come back to school March 29.

Other elementary students and some older special education students in intensive service pathways could return to the clasroom on April 5, the elementary grade school reopening deadline Governor Jay Inslee announced last week.

Like many districts, Seattle would offer a hybrid model. Most students would learn in-person four days out of the week, morning or afternoon — they would learn remotely during the rest of that time, with Wednesdays all-remote. Special education students may qualify for additional in-person services. The district will still let families choose a 100% remote learning option.

Seattle Public Schools and its teachers union have been in negotiations since January. But Inslee last week ordered school districts around the state to accelerate the pace of reopening plans for the sake of children’s mental health.

“We look forward to welcoming our students back in larger numbers," district Superintendent Denise Juneau said in a written statement. "I am grateful to our bargaining teams for putting in very long hours to create a plan that will offer more access for our students to return to in-person learning."

The tentative agreement must still be ratified by the union’s general membership and the school board next week. The district plans to survey families of students eligible to return within the next week to determine whether they intend to send their children in-person or remain entirely remote.

The district and union will next focus on negotiating a return for most middle and high school students. The governor's proclamation, signed Monday, called for all students in middle and high school to be allowed to attend in-person in at least a hybrid model by April 19.