There will be no school on Nov. 11 and Nov. 12 for students at Seattle Public Schools (SPS) because of a staff shortage, the school district said.
The SPS, which serves more than 52,000 students, said Tuesday in a district-wide message that there is an unusually large number of school staff taking leave following Veteran’s Day, and that it’s unlikely there will be enough people to keep schools open.
“There will be no in-person or remote instruction on these two days,” the district told parents and community members. “We are aware of a larger than normal number of SPS staff taking leave on Friday, and do not believe we have adequate personnel to open schools.”
District officials said they “recognize the late notice creates challenging circumstances for many families,” adding that the lost learning time will be added to the end of the 2021-2022 school year to make sure all students get the full number of school hours.
The district further elaborated on the situation in a statement to KING 5, a local NBC affiliate, saying that more than 600 educators have requested leave for Nov. 12.
“The number of leave requests on a Friday after a federal holiday is indicative of the fatigue our staff and students are experiencing in these months of the return to classroom,” the statement reads “The four-day weekend may offer physical, mental, and emotional restoration.”
“Based on historical patterns, it is likely many additional staff would take leave and not come in on Friday morning,” district officials added. “With the current labor shortage of substitutes, and our current staffing levels, SPS does not have the capacity to ensure student safety and high-quality learning.”
The neighboring Bellevue School District, which serves about 20,000 students, will also close on Nov. 12.
“Some of the creative solutions we have provided in the past with staff shortages, will not work with the COVID-19 restrictions. For example, combining classes is not an option at this time,” the district wrote in the message announcing the closure, noting that a makeup day is planned for Jan. 28, 2022.
Kent School District (KSD), serving the southeastern outskirts of Seattle, announced the Nov. 12 closures a day after Seattle and Bellevue.
“I know that each of us in Team KSD is working through trauma caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, our staff, at every level, has experienced an unprecedented amount of stress, impacting their mental health,” KSD Interim Superintendent Israel Vela told KING 5. “Unfortunately, we cannot safely operate schools with the staff and substitute shortages we are already seeing in our data.”