Seattle Public Schools facing crossing guard shortage

SEATTLE — Seattle Public Schools is trying to fill dozens of positions for crossing guards before school starts, but the COVID-19 pandemic is making that difficult.

SPS hopes to get applicants soon so they can fill positions for the first day of school, which is approaching in just a few weeks.

Mary Ellen Russell, a parent in the district, said she is relived her children are heading back to in-person classes but is nervous they’ll be crossing busy Seattle streets without crossing guards.

“All the crossing guards were furloughed when school went remote last year and so now there’s a bigger problem than ever,” she said.

Russell is also on the transportation committee for the district and said more than 40 crossing guards are needed after many lost work during the pandemic.

“We do not have full staffing for our crossing guards and I wish we did,” said Tim Robinson, a spokesperson for SPS.

Robinson said the district did get qualified applicants in the last few weeks, but only filled a handful of slots.

During the pandemic, it might not be a surprise if retirees balk about being around unvaccinated children, even outdoors.

SPS has 115 intersections that have crossing guards. As of last Friday, there were 42 open.