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Some Monroe kids to return to classes in March

MONROE — Students in first and second grade will be returning to classes on Monday, March 1. Two weeks later on March 15, third, fourth and fifth graders will return to classes.
The school board voted 5-0 last week to approve a memorandum of agreement with the Monroe Education Association teachers’ union. The union ratified this agreement on Friday.
The students will take in-person classes Monday through Thursday on an “A-B” schedule, where one group of students will attend school in-person in the morning and the other group will attend in-person in the afternoon. The switch happens during the noon hour, where morning students are taken home and afternoon students are due to arrive. Janitors will disinfect everything for that day’s next group.
When not physically in school, the rest of the day is online learning.
Students would continue all-day remote learning on Fridays.
Reactions online from parents ranged from joy for bringing in-person learning back to frustration for the half-day schedule complicating things for working parents.
The district is splitting student groups because there isn’t enough room inside schools to socially distance all the children at once.
The school district says it is confident it has enough safety measures in place to keep students and teachers safe.
Monroe preschool and kindergarten students began attending in-person learning in the fall.
“Our preschool teachers, our kindergarten teachers, really laid the groundwork” for safety protocols, Superintendent Justin Blasko said at last week’s board meeting.
The agreement with the teachers union requires the district to arrange COVID-19 vaccination services for those eligible to receive one.
At the Feb. 8 school board meeting, union president Robyn Hayashi criticized comments made during the Jan. 25 board meeting where parents heavily criticized the slowness of negotiating a reopening plan, and a few school board members went along with the critics.
During the Jan. 25 meeting, one parent, for example, characterized the teachers’ union as holding kids hostage.
Board president Jim Langston gave lengthy comments at the Jan. 25 meeting nailing school district administrators for not meeting often enough with the union to settle a contract to allow schools to reopen.
Hayashi said a few teachers received threats for not marching back into the classroom. A sentiment of a parents-versus-teachers
fissure “incited anger by teachers,” and slowed negotiations, Hayashi said.
“Have you considered you slowed down our progress?” she said to board members.
The school district will continue negotiating on how to reopen middle and high schools. These schools pose more difficulty in having enough space for social distancing, Blasko said.


As students come back, how are buses made safe?

SNOHOMISH COUNTY — As younger students are returning to classrooms as an option, some parents who rely on the bus system may be wondering how safety will extend to transportation to and from school.
Will there be measures to fight COVID-19 on bus routes? Yes, districts said.

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