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Washington student advocacy group pushes for full return to in-person learning

The Washington Alliance 4 Kids is pushing for a full return to in-person learning, saying Gov. Jay Inslee's school reopening plan doesn't go far enough.

SEATTLE — With just a few months left in the 2021 school year some Washington parents are pushing for a full return to in-person learning. It's a move that comes after Gov. Jay Inslee announced schools must offer an option for in-person instruction by mid-April.

“Kids need to be in school. They’ve had their entire lives taken away from them and enough is enough,” said Courtney Payne, a mom of four in Kirkland.

Payne has been pushing for a return to the classroom and welcomed the governor's announcement on Friday. “I am taking action to make sure students of all grades will have this option,” said Inslee during a media conference. 

The governor issued an emergency proclamation that requires schools to give all kindergarten through sixth grade students an opportunity to engage in both online and in-person learning by April 5. All of Washington state's students must be given the option for in-person learning at least two days a week by April 19. 

The proclamation is pending, however, the governor is expected to sign it this coming week. It's a step in the right direction but not far enough for some.

RELATED: Washington students must be offered in-person learning by April 19, Inslee says

“We’re not going to stop until our kids are back full time," continued Payne. "All grades full time. That’s what they deserve, that’s what students all over the country are getting, that’s what private school kids are getting."

Payne is part of a newly formed group called the Washington Alliance 4 Kids. It was formed during the coronavirus pandemic and has made it its mission to advocate for in-person learning.

“We’re here to stay now, to forever be a voice for parents and kids in the schools,” said Payne.

On Monday, the group plans to protest at the Lake Washington School Board meeting for a second time to push for a 100% return to the classroom.

“I absolutely believe that we have the safety precautions in place that we should be able to open up these schools safely,” said Dan Glatz, a parent in Bellevue.

In a letter addressed to families on Friday, the Lake Washington School District said it’s already offering options for in-person learning for kindergarten and first grade students, and will bring back the rest of the students before the governor’s deadline.

RELATED: Some Puget Sound parents push for full return to in-person learning

RELATED: Inslee cites mental health as a reason for students to return to Washington classrooms