Seattle Public Schools is moving head with plans to return some students for in-school instruction, as well as transitioning to a new superintendent earlier than planned.

According to a news release, students will begin to return to classrooms on March 29 after SPS and the Seattle Education Association reached a tentative contract agreement last week outlining preschool and elementary student and staff’s return to school buildings.

The agreement, which will be approved this week, includes a joint commitment to bring pre-kindergarten and elementary special education intensive services pathways students back first. Secondary special education intensive pathways students and all other elementary students whose families choose to send their children back to school for the in-person instructional model will start on April 5.

According to the agreement, to  allow students more days of instruction time with classmates, school will resume following a hybrid schedule where students receive part time in-person instruction and part time remote lessons.

Under the hybrid model, students will attend either morning or afternoon in-person class four days a week, with remote teaching and learning on Wednesdays. All families will also have the option to continue with an all-remote model.

“We look forward to welcoming our students back in larger numbers,” Superintendent Denise Juneau said in the news release. “I am grateful to our bargaining teams for putting in very long hours to create a plan that will offer more access for our students to return to in-person learning.”

Families of kindergarten to fifth-grade students will choose the in-personal instructional model or 100 percent remote option in an Intent to Enroll Survey sent out.

Once the SPS and SEA organizations ratify the agreement this week, more information will be provided.

“SEA remains committed to the health, safety and equity of educators,” SEA Vice President Uti Hawkins said in the news release. “This bargaining experience brings us one step closer to correcting the systemic inequities in our school system and walking into better schooling environments.”

SPS and SEA continue to bargain to reach an agreement to bring middle and high school students back to classrooms.

The school district also announced last week that interim Superintendent Brent Jones will replace Superintendent Denise Juneau earlier than originally planned. According to an SPS press release, Jones will assume his duties on May 1, a couple of months earlier than expected to help students, families, teachers and staff as the district resumes more in-person learning and develops plans for the 2021-22 school year.

Juneau announced in December 2020 that she would not seek an extension when her contract came due and would leave the district at the end of June 2021. The SPS Board of Directors hired Jones as the interim superintendent in February.

SPS Board President Chandra Hampson said in the announcement that the board is grateful to both Juneau and Jones for committing to a smooth transition.

“Transitions are always difficult, and to undertake such a major one during a time of constant change and uncertainty makes us that much more grateful in their willingness to ensure strong continuity of leadership,” Hampson said in the release.

According to the announcement, Juneau will remain in the Seattle area and be available as a resource to Jones to help with the transition.

“My vision is to create responsive systems that ensure each student has the opportunity to be competitive in their chosen field, be a great citizen and become self-actualized,” Jones said in the district’s announcement. “I will stand with and for community to drive toward relevant and meaningful student outcomes. In doing so, we aim to cultivate public trust, commitment and confidence.”

Jones will serve as interim superintendent until June 30, 2022. He was first hired by the school district in 2008. He most recently served as the district’s chief officer of equity, partnerships and engagement until he took a position as the assistant general manager of strategy and partnerships at King County Metro in 2019.

Jones is a multi-generational resident of Seattle and a graduate of Franklin High School. He received an undergraduate degree in zoology from the University of Washington, an M.Ed. in adult learning and human resource development and Ph.D. in educational leadership from the University of Texas-Austin.

The Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors will begin its search for a permanent superintendent this fall with significant community engagement planned. The search will conclude with extensive interviews in spring of 2022, with the board selecting a permanent superintendent in April or May.

To read more about SPS in-person learning plan, go to https://www.seattleschools.org/resources#10.