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Can teachers apply for unemployment benefits in Washington state?

With school now "out" for summer, some teachers are wondering how to go about filing for unemployment.

With most schools now out for the summer, some teachers and school employees are wondering if they are eligible to apply for Washington state unemployment benefits.

"I'd really love some specific guidance for school employees in Washington going forward, and I've seen several other people with similar concerns,” said KING 5 viewer Katie. “Under normal rules, we wouldn't qualify during summer months. But with PUA, I feel like they should be waiving this rule for 2020."

With contracts and other job cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, KING 5 reached out to the teacher’s union for guidance.

RELATED: Unemployed in Washington? Top money questions answered

The Washington Education Association (WEA) said there are several different situations and that unemployment is determined on a case by case basis. However, the WEA did provide some guidance.

If a teacher has a contract for the next school year, it is unlikely they are eligible for unemployment benefits. This is because the school employee has a reasonable assurance they will return in the fall. However, a contracted teacher might be eligible for benefits if they had a summer job that was canceled.

Teachers and other school employees might also be eligible for unemployment if they received what is called a “reduction in force notice.” But if an employee receives a notice and is called back, they are no longer eligible for benefits unless they have a good reason not to return.

RELATED: Washington unemployment center restricting calls to help clear up claims

An early educator who wasn’t renewed for the next school year is also eligible for unemployment.

If a teacher gets a notice later on that says they are not going to be working in the fall, that employee can restart their unemployment claim if they were collecting benefits earlier in the year.

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