Surprise Friday school closure leaves parents scrambling

KING COUNTY, Wash. — At Madrona Elementary, just after 1 p.m. on Wednesday, teachers wished their students a good weekend.

Schools in Seattle, Bellevue and Kent will all be closed Thursday for Veterans Day, and now, also on Friday because of staffing shortages.

Parents learned of the surprise closure Tuesday in Seattle and Bellevue and on Wednesday in Kent.

“It’s not a coincidence, obviously. I don’t know if there’s a union thing going on or everybody just wants a four-day weekend they’re all going to some teacher resort somewhere, I don’t know, it doesn’t add up,” said parent David Cater.

The Seattle Education Association said Friday’s closure is the district’s decision, caused by a statewide shortage of substitute teachers.

The union contract allows Seattle teachers four personal days off per school year.

They must give three days’ notice and arrange for a substitute.

District officials said, as of last week, 600 educators had requested Friday off.

Seattle Public Schools officials said there’s little restriction on the use of personal days in the contract, and the district has denied only limited requests.

With so many teachers off, SPS said the superintendent decided “we were not likely to be able to provide a safe and quality learning day for students.”

Now, parents are scrambling to find child care at a time many after-school programs are already filled up.

“A lot of people don’t have a Plan B,” said parent Judea Howard.

Some districts in Colorado and Oregon are also closing Friday.