Superintendent: Students’ return to classroom hinges on negotiations with teachers

Model of the four-stage re-entry plan for Edmonds School District students.

Plans for the Edmonds School District to bring more students back into classrooms currently hinge on negotiations between the district and teachers’ union, according to a message sent by Superintendent Gustavo Balderas to district families Wednesday.

As the district prepares to move into Stage 2 of its school building reopening plan, Balderas said that the district’s bargaining team is still in talks with the Edmonds Education Association which represents teachers.

“We are actively bargaining with the union,” he said. “At this time, we do not know how long it will take to have the terms finalized between the district and the union to launch Stage 2. We will continue to share information with you as we can.”

Superintendent Gustavo Balderas

Before district staff can provide a start date for Stage 2, Balderas said daily schedules of which students will be attending on which days will need to be identified. Staff also need to know which teachers will be in-person and which will be teaching students remotely, he added.

Also in the letter, Balderas announced that all district staff are now part of Phase 1B2-4 of Washington’s COVID-19 Phases, which he said now includes Pre-K through 12th grade educators and staff. The state’s plan was updated Monday with new qualifiers for the phases and the estimated timeline for vaccination distribution. 

“We do not know exactly when there will be enough vaccines available to move to Phase 1B2-4, but it will likely be when about 50% of those in Phase 1B1 have received their first dose of the vaccine,” he said. “The current state timeline anticipates spring/summer, but we are hopeful that timeline will move up as we have seen it do so already.”Recent data from public health officials have shown an increase in positive COVID-19 cases within many states and countries after the holidays. As a result, the Washington Department of Health is advising families considering non-essential traveling or those returning students to in-person learning after having traveled out of the country have been advised to practice self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival back into Washington state.

“If your student(s) is participating in an in-person program at this time, contact your school building to report your student’s absence and the possible need to pick up academic resources to do school work at home,” he said.

For more information about the risk that travel poses for COVID-19 exposure, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) page on travel risks.

–By Cody Sexton

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