BELLEVUE, Wash. — Students and parents on Seattle’s Eastside are urging school administrators to bring students back to the classroom. The latest push is in Bellevue, where kids are leading the charge.
On Monday morning, about a dozen students brought their laptops, connected to the campus WiFi and attended online learning.
Friday marks one year since most Bellevue public schools students have been in a classroom.
“The motivation that maybe I could at least make them think about it, that’s what motivated me to come here,” said Max Burger, a 7th grader at Odle Middle School in Bellevue.
Burger, alongside his classmates and many of their parents, are taking part in a student-led protest aimed at the adults. Their message is clear: They want in-person learning to resume.
“We’re here to make a statement. These kids are willing to sit out for four hours every day, in the rain and in the cold, because they really want to be back in school with their teachers,” said Michelle Silver, a parent in the Bellevue School District.
According to Washington state, about a third of students are receiving some form of in-person learning. That's low compared to schools around the U.S.
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“They don’t care where they go, they just want to be in person and in school. Staying attentive all day online is very difficult for a lot of kids,” Silver continued.
In a statement posted to the Bellevue School District’s website, the district admits they should have students back in the classroom based on infection rates. They blame the ongoing negotiation with the local teachers union for the delay.
The district said, "We know that infection rates have dropped significantly and that according to our website we should be back in buildings at all grade levels. We are committed to bringing all students back as quickly as possible. However, we cannot do this alone and need to continue our negotiations with the Bellevue Education Association (BEA). We have asked BEA leadership to return to the bargaining table sooner than the March 12 date set in the most recent Memorandum of Understanding. The request to meet earlier is in direct response to the increasing need to be in our school buildings."
The union says they need safety measures to be uniformly implemented and finished across all schools, for the safety of students and teachers alike.