Bellevue second graders return to class, teachers refuse

VIDEO: Bellevue School district is taking its teachers to court

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Jan. 21, 2021 UPDATE: On Thursday, the Bellevue School District filed a motion in court asking a judge to force educators back to the classroom for in-person learning, arguing the “strike, work slow-down, and work stoppage” had created an “emergency” for the district and students.

A judge denied the motion, ruling educators “continue to be ready and willing to provide remote and other learning/teaching which has been acceptable to [the district] and is acceptable to state educational authorities.”

“Why is the district wasting money and energy in court instead of just pausing and working on a resolution that would support students and keep everyone safe,” says Allison Snow, president of Bellevue Education Association, in a statement Thursday. “We are disappointed that district leaders have chosen this path.”

Content Continues Below

A spokesperson for the Bellevue School District sent KIRO 7 a statement after Thursday’s court ruling:

“After a successful first day back with our second-grade students, the Bellevue School District is committed to continuing to work with the Bellevue Education Association (BEA), our teachers’ union, to bring more students back for in-person learning.

Legal action is always a last resort, and while we are disappointed that our educators will not return to classrooms and virtual teaching tomorrow, we are committed to working with BEA leadership.

The district has requested the state assign a mediator to help bridge our differences so that we may pursue what is important to both of us – serving our students and families. We are continuing our conversations tonight with BEA.”

The Bellevue Education Association said bargaining with the school district would resume Friday morning.

VIDEO: Battle between teachers and the school district

On Thursday, the Bellevue School District is returning second graders to in-person learning, kindergarteners and first graders will follow.

The Bellevue Education Association is asking the district to pause the plan. They say teachers want a chance to get vaccinated first.

“People feel like they’re being asked to sacrifice their life just to have bodies in buildings,” said Allison Snow, president of the Bellevue Education Association. Snow doesn’t understand how the state can be pushing so hard for the return now. “We’ve been hearing from our own governor, for the many months, it’s not even safe for us to be eating in restaurants and now suddenly educators are being told it is safe for them to be in classrooms with lots of students coming in and going out.”

The district maintains it has taken the necessary steps to keep students and staff safe. They have had students at several schools for months, for help and child care during remote learning.

“We have shown we can do it and we can do it well,” said Dr. Ivan Duran, Superintendent, Bellevue School District. “We’ve put educator safety at the center of all of the conversations we’ve had. That’s why we have such a robust list of protocols in place. We want you to know we have agreements and we want you to honor those agreements.”

The teachers’ union says second-grade teachers will not be there when students return to the classroom on Thursday. They will be ready for remote learning.

“We will all still show up to provide educational opportunities to our students tomorrow but we will not put our lives in person on the line for it,” added Snow.

The district says it has substitutes in place.