Edmonds School District clarifies plans for grade 3-12 students not returning to classrooms under Stage 2

Edmonds School District leaders clarified Thursday that while they are working to return kindergarten through second-grade students to school buildings next month, they plan to provide variety of in-person learning opportunities to grade 3-12 students remaining in remote learning.

Last Friday, Feb. 19, the district announced a deal had been struck with the Edmonds Education Association to move into Stage 2 of the district’s school building reentry plan. Under Stage 2, kindergarten through second-grade students would be able to return to in-person learning starting March 22.

In a letter sent Thursday, Feb. 25 to district families, staff detailed plans to offer in-person support for grades 3-12 via remote learning hubs, where students can access academic support, social emotional learning and school facilities like stable internet connections and/or places to do school work.

“It’s more of a creative approach that doesn’t quite have that A/B Hybrid model,” said district spokesperson Harmony Weinberg.

The letter goes on to clarify language from the district’s Feb. 19 message regarding in-person opportunities being extended to students with “specific needs.” According to the Feb. 19 memo, staff will be working to identify students “who need  extra support with academics or their ability to engage in remote learning.”

Since students have been in remote learning, the district has turned to remote learning hubs to offer support to students most in need. Last fall, the district opened Edmonds Hub for McKinney-Vento students. Recently, the district also began offering in-person services to students in the English learners program.

Following the Feb. 19 announcement, reports that students in grades 3-12 would not be returning to classrooms had some parents concerned that the district was neglecting students. However, Weinberg said staff does not have the time needed to prepare to return that many students and there is little the district could do before June, logistically.

“We’re getting too far into the school year it was deemed infeasible by both parties that we would not logically be able to make (bringing back all students) happen,” she said.

According to Weinberg, the Feb. 19 update aimed to provide families with as much information about Stage 2 that was available at the time. Though the letter mentioned Stage 3, she said the main focus of the update was to provide information primarily on Stage 2 as the district began to move in that direction.

“The plan was figure out Stage 2, get that going and then we will focus on our third- through 12-graders,” she said. “The work for third- through 12th-graders is happening now.”

With only four months left, staff are juggling plans for the remainder of the school year as well as summer learning opportunities and the fall.

“We are looking at the fall but I would say right now we want to get our Stage 2 kiddos back into our building next month,” she said. “That is taking an extreme amount of work from our principals, our teaching staff.”

As faculty and staff prepare to bring more students back on campus, Weinberg said they want to make sure it is done in the safest way and compared the work to “the most complicated puzzle of their careers.”

“It’s COVID(-19), so we’re building the plane as we’re in the air,” she said. “I think we need to keep that perspective.”

–By Cody Sexton

  1. How unfortunate for parents and kids that a union negotiated agreement will not allow schools to reopen. Hundreds of kids are loosing educational competency daily due to the closure. CDC guidelines, the operation of non-public schools, as well as many other public school openings clearly show this can be done safely. The rationale provided for not opening do not reflect well on the administration and school board. Parents and student5s obviously are not the priority of the Edmonds School District.

  2. The school district’s message just gets more and more muddled. I had hoped that the new superintendent would prioritize clear communication, which was so lacking with the previous administration. Thankfully, the message from Dr Balderas on the ESD website is clear: “the district and the EEA do not see that it is feasible to bring students back for in-person learning in Stage 3 (3rd-6th grades) or Stage 4 (7th-12th grades) before the end of this school year.” They’ve given up. This, while all around us there are public and private schools that have successfully implemented in-person learning throughout this school year. I understand and appreciate that this is complicated to implement, but for ESD and EEA in February to give up on any in-person learning for the vast majority of the population the rest of the school year is just sad. I’ve been holding out hope the past several weeks that the state would prioritize school staff vaccinations, particularly with another vaccine apparently coming online this weekend. All staff could be fully vaccinated within the next 3-4 weeks. And yet still, ESD and the EEA say “no way.” I get so frustrated with my kids when they walk away from something because they say “it’s too hard.” And now, ESD sends the same message to district families. Nothing worth having is easy. Please, my kids need to get back to school.

  3. Is any consideration being given to opening schools during this summer—-or are they only looking at a September opening? While it is not traditional to have schools open in the summer, we are not in traditional times. Kids need to be back in school as soon as possible—the lack of socialization is very harmful. It doesn’t seem like the responsible parties feel much urgency.

  4. What the ESD is doing is nothing less than child abuse and I urge parents to demand schools reopen or let the ESD know that any future levies will be roundly defeated. maybe that will get their attention.

  5. Unfortunately the unions prioritize higher wages, smaller size classrooms. Interest in classroom learning seems missing. All the data shows older people in group settings are most at risk. The need for close contact makes it easier to spread. Children are at low risk and distancing and masks make risk very low. Where is some creative thinking to help kids’ education?

    1. Unfortunately Barbara, the ESD only does what the teacher’s union allows and the teachers union does not care about any damage to the students, they consider it “collateral” to their agenda.

    2. I find it interesting that they have had a full year, and Federal relief funds, more to come(?!), but they just couldn’t figure out a plan, especially given that there are other schools all around us, who were able to.

      “Not enough time left before June” to figure it out sounds like something we would have expected and accepted in March of 2020, but not in Late Feb 2021.

      Please consider supporting School Choice.
      The Unions don’t want the competition because of $$. If parents had an alternative choice, they could decide whether they want their kids to go back, rather than being held hostage by the Unions. The most vulnerable in our society are hit the hardest in this debacle. Where is the outrage??

      I love teachers and want them and their students to be safe. Data supports the safety of schools reopening. Follow the science, right?
      It does not have to be a binary choice!

      Demand better leadership!

  6. I think it’s wild that school districts are even considering opening before all teachers, admin and support staff are vaccinated, given that case rates are still high. This seems like a pretty good compromise on the part of ESD and the teachers union.

  7. There is no scientific data that supports the idea that schools are not safe to open.
    Statistics on transmission in schools is low- there are plenty of reports to check out.

    Parents should have the option to make their own decisions for their children. Not everyone has the luxury of staying home with their kids.

    You mentioned the case rate being high, but the data shows the case rate per 100K people, trend in Snohomish is significantly down over the past 4 weeks and is currently in the range of 119 per 100K, vs 419 per 100K mid-January. Vaccinations are going to continue and to support this significantly improving trend.

    Why don’t we ask why the teachers weren’t able to get vaccinated? Even though the CDC has explicitly stated it should not be a prerequisite, it seems perfectly reasonable to me for those teachers who are older or have underlying vulnerabilities to have access to the vaccine.

    We should never accept mediocrity from elected officials, especially when it is trampling on the rights of citizens, endangering and negatively impacting our kids, and is clearly a politicized issue.



  8. This year has been challenging for many – on many fronts. I can only imagine the heartache teachers feel not being able to be in the class with their students. I KNOW the lived experience of having everyone home, managing school, managing emotions, managing clients, managing life – all under one roof. And while there are hardships, there are many blessings to all of this – opportunities…but what is troubling, and I agree with Beth, is that that data (science, or whatever whomever chooses to call it), is tough to contend with:

    According to my friend John, half of the 50 States now have more than two-thirds of their students back to school. Five of them – Iowa, Montana, Florida and Wyoming – have 100% of their students back in the classroom. Washington state, According to Burbio.com, just over 20% are back in class. That puts Washington 47th among the 50 States in getting kids back to school. Even if you use the State’s data, the numbers bump up only slightly. Washington still ranks 42nd.

    And yet, my friends who have their kids in private school, many have been in the classroom since September, with no reported outbreaks of COVID.

  9. The next big deadline looms in September. There will still be many unvaccinated people in the community then. Some school staff, and certainly all the kids, and many of their family members. I’m getting the feeling that the EEA is going to say it’s still too risky for in-person instruction. At best, it feels like a hybrid model is likely until 2022 or later. It’s going to take a very long time until the risk gets down to almost zero, which is what I perceive the EEA will require before they recommend teachers go back. Since the ESD and EEA have made this “mutual” decision to close the rest of this year, I think it’s essential that they commit significant resources to nailing down an iron-clad plan, by July 2021, for getting all students back in September 2021. Let’s hope Dr Balderas is willing to push for that, and hope the EEA can get somewhat more reasonable in what they’re demanding.

    1. Only 14% of the US has been vaccinated. So many countries dont even have a vaccine. Still cases and deaths are falling. We all learned to quarantine older folks, not to put people on ventilation, using great therapeutics. No vaccine or masks needed. More additional kids will die of suicide than of an infection from school.

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