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caption: Alayna Holmes, a first-grade student at Northgate Elementary, runs toward her classmates on Monday, April 5, 2021, on the first day of in-person learning at the school in Seattle.
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Alayna Holmes, a first-grade student at Northgate Elementary, runs toward her classmates on Monday, April 5, 2021, on the first day of in-person learning at the school in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle students to return full time, in person this fall. Remote option available

Seattle Public Schools will return to full-time, in-person education this fall, Superintendent Dr. Brent Jones announced Thursday morning.

“The conditions are right, the pandemic is slowing,” Jones said. “It’s all in the context of what’s best for students, when teachers and students can have that personal connection.”

He said the Pfizer vaccine becoming available for youth as young as 12 was a factor. He said the district plans to open 39 vaccine sites for students – more details to come.

Seattle schools were entirely remote for a year, until this spring, when they offered a hybrid option, bringing in students for several hours a day. Students who wanted to remain remote, could.

Jones said a remote option for schooling would continue next year – he said it was clear that some students thrived through virtual learning. What that will look like will be explored, he said.

Masks may or may not be mandatory, depending on where the pandemic is at. Jones said it is impossible to say what safety measures will look like without a full picture of the pandemic, but that district leadership is working with public health.

For students and staff who suffered emotionally this year, Jones said the district would employ the mantra, “a culture of care,” to focus on them.

Students of color found respite from racism by being remote, he noted, and he would also try to ensure that classrooms are safe for those students.

Jones said transportation should not be a problem as it has been this spring, with some students forced to remain remote because they could not get to schools.

Unlike this winter, when school district officials blindsided teachers by announcing a return to the classroom, the school district is working with the union this time. A teachers union representative was standing with the group as they made the announcement on Thursday at South Shore Elementary School.

The mood has changed since this winter, however: Nationally, Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, called for a return to a normal school schedule this fall.

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