With almost zero notice, the Seattle area has a long weekend it didn't bargain for.
On Tuesday, to the dismay of many working parents and delight of probably every kid, Seattle Public Schools announced that classes on Friday would be canceled due to a staffing shortage. It'll be made up later this year, a la a snow day.
Like ferries and restaurants and nearly every other realm of work, schools have been rocked by a lack of workers this fall. Per The Seattle Times, a whopping 600-plus substitute teacher requests were submitted for the day after Veterans Day, meaning a long weekend was suddenly in the offing. "We acknowledge that the high volume of leave requests on a Friday following a federal holiday is indicative of the fatigue that educators and students are experiencing, locally and nationwide, 11 weeks into the return to in-class learning," the district said in a statement. "We recognize the late notice creates challenging circumstances for many families. Our hope is that the four-day weekend allows for some level of physical, mental, and emotional rest and recharging."
While the role of student fatigue in a school cancellation might be more than a tad suspect, educator exhaustion is certainly understandable given the toll of toggling between remote and in-person learning last year and the resumption of a more normal schedule in 2021-2022. The late notice, as the district acknowledges, is the real source of consternation here.
SPS will continue to run childcare services, distribute meals, hold sporting events, and stand up Covid vaccine clinics, it says. But working parents must scramble to make other arrangements for their kids, perhaps having to take time off work. Affluent ones may have appreciated a bit more time to book weekend retreats. And educators who weren't planning to take the day likely would have appreciated more of a heads-up too.
Seattle schools aren't the only ones in the area facing a staffing shortage this week. Bellevue and Kent are also closed on Friday.
Is the state's vaccine mandate to blame at all? Doesn't look like it. In Bellevue and Seattle, nearly all school employees are vaccinated, with Kent a little less dosed.
A calendar error may have played a role in some absences. But there's no doubt teachers are tired. The problem is that parents are too.