Monroe teachers vote to halt any new in-person learning

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — Monroe teachers voted to halt any new in-person learning until an agreement is reached with the district that outlines health and safety protocols.

The district had planned to resume in-person learning for first graders on Monday despite rising COVID-19 cases.

According to the Monroe Education Association, teachers announced Saturday that they would follow the district’s current contract for remote classes and not risk student safety.

During negotiations on Friday night with the district’s superintendent, Justin Blasko, a preliminary agreement was reached although school board members did not adopt an agreement as of Saturday morning.

“The district released a premature plan to parents knowing that it violated the district’s own contract, and that it was asking teachers to violate our contract as well,” said Monroe Education Association President Robyn Hayashi. “We are declining to do that, especially with the dramatic increase in pandemic infections occurring right now.”

According to the Monroe Education Association, a contractual Memorandum of Agreement was signed in September by teachers and the district that states “the district will hold classes this fall via ‘remote instruction.’”

“We’re still hearing loud and clear from our members that the district is not ready yet for students to return,” Hayashi said. “If no agreement is in place by Nov. 30, our teachers will meet again to decide the next steps, which could include a work stoppage districtwide.”

Currently there are dozens of students in the district that are in quarantine because of possible COVID-19 exposure, and some parents told KIRO 7 the current protocols are not enough.

“As educators, we’ve always understood the frustrations this false-start announcement by the district could create for students, and we had repeatedly urged the district to not publicly announce their own wishful thinking as a definite plan,” Hayashi said.