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Monroe 1st graders return to remote learning after backlash

Monroe first graders will return to remote learning after just two days in the classroom. Teachers and some parents had asked the district for more time.

Monroe first graders will return to remote learning after just two days back in the classroom. The Washington Education Association (WEA) said "educators raised our health and safety concerns and refused to return to classrooms."

Staff said it was irresponsible to return to in-person learning with COVID-19 cases surging and 39 Monroe kindergartners in quarantine. 

On Wednesday, the Monroe School District said the in-person hybrid learning model was "on pause." In a statement, the district acknowledged WEA's concerns, but did not specifically address them. They say they will work with educators to find a solution that works. See the district's full statement below.

Monroe Education Association President Robyn Hayashi said, "Our district has finally come to the realization that they were moving too quickly."

The news came at the end of a 90-minute meeting Wednesday where teachers and parents expressed concerns over returning to the classroom while coronavirus cases rise. 

“I will not put my students and my community at risk for the sole sake of academics,” said Pamela Wilson, a Monroe teacher. 

Earlier this week, the Monroe superintendent sent a letter that warned teachers who did not return Tuesday that they could be fired. It's unclear how many teachers did not show up Tuesday.

RELATED: Monroe teachers could be fired for not resuming in-person first grade classes

The Monroe Education Association said in a statement Wednesday, “We are proud that by coming together we were able to return to online learning to be safer for our students, our staff, and our community. We thank our families and community members who supported us as we stood up for health and safety. We will continue fighting at the table to get health and safety protocols in place as fast as possible for our front-line colleagues still in the buildings.”

Numbers from the Washington State Department of Health show that coronavirus cases are surging in Snohomish County and across Washington state.

The Monroe School District released the following statement Wednesday, "The Monroe School District (MSD) School Board is pausing the return of first grade students to the in-person, cohorted, hybrid learning model. We have heard the concerns of our staff and families and are pausing in response to these concerns. We want to assure you that your MSD Board of Directors is committed to providing your students with the best education possible in a safe and healthy learning environment. We are committed to working with all of our labor groups to ensure confidence in our safety measures and practices during this ongoing pandemic.

Our Board remains committed to Equitable Access, Powerful Instruction, and High Expectations for each of the students and families that we serve. We will continue our conversations with the Monroe Education Association (MEA) to work to find a solution to best serve the students of the MSD. First grade students will pivot back to distance learning on November 19, 2020."