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February 11, 2021

KSD building leaders and COVID Site Supervisors have been working to prepare their buildings to safely welcome back students and staff following strict guidance from public health officials. Returning to in-person learning remains a priority for KSD, Governor Inslee, President Biden, and nearly half of our families that have indicated they are ready to have their students return to buildings to learn in each of our previous three surveys this last year. 

KSD Leaders are actively negotiating with Kent Education Association and Kent Principals Association and have initiated bargaining conversations with all labor partners about returning to in-person learning. While we were planning for a February 22 start for our PreK-1 students and hopeful that lower COVID-19 community activity rates would support this, only one of these conditions for reopening has been realized.

All Team KSD members remain committed to our shared goals for a safe return to in-person learning; however, based on where we stand today with our labor negotiations, we cannot predict the return date for in-person learning.

  • We recognize that some educators may be at higher risk and not able to return in-person this spring. 
  • Balancing priorities of keeping students with their classroom teacher, offering families a choice between remote and in-person learning, and adhering to the department of health guidelines will require compromise.
  • We know that vaccines are here. We were excited to learn that educators will be offered the vaccine earlier than we first expected. We have continued to watch together with you in anticipation of news about when this opportunity will begin. We have been advised by local, state, and federal public health officials we should not delay our plans and return to in-person learning as soon as possible. And yet, we know that being fully vaccinated is a priority for most of our staff to feel comfortable returning to work.
  • We want to provide as much predictability and consistency for our staff and families as possible, especially during this time of continued challenge and controversy. 
  • We have a shared goal to prioritize learning, health, and safety. 

On February 10, 2021, when Dr. Watts shared this update in his Superintendent’s Report during the board meeting, he said, “In the paraphrased words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the ultimate measure of a leader is not where they stand in times of comfort and convenience; it is where they stand in times of challenge and controversy. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us to learn to be more adaptive as guidance continues to change frequently.”

Our Human Resources leaders are committed to continuing the bargaining process with our labor partners about these plans. And we will continue to refine our safety plans to align with evolving public health guidance.

We will continue to provide updates when they are available. The safety of our students and staff has been and will continue to be our first priority.

Please continue to visit our website regularly, check your emails, voicemail, and mobile app for news, resources, and information.