UPDATE: In a message on Saturday afternoon, the Seattle Education Association said Seattle Public Schools has agreed to guarantee a 30-minute recess. Negotiations will continue on Sunday.
SEATTLE -- With a teachers strike deadline set, the Seattle Education Association and Seattle Public Schools went back to the bargaining table Friday with the help of a state mediator.
Both sides confirmed to Q13Fox News that talks resumed on on Saturday morning.
The teachers, members of the SEA, voted by acclamation Thursday night to go on strike Wednesday -- the first day of the new school year -- if a tentative contract agreement is not reached by then.
Seattle Public Schools said, "A mediator is meeting with both sides ... and both parties have agreed to continue to bargain through the weekend to assist in the continued negotiation process. If the two sides do not reach a tentative agreement by Tuesday, September 8, school may not start next Wednesday."
The school district urged parents to check the Seattle Public Schools website for updates regarding the first day of school.
"Please do not drop your children off or send them to the bus stop on the first day of school, Wednesday, Sept. 9th, without first checking for the updates in the media and on the SPS website, www.seattleschools.org."
The Seattle school district said it is optimistic a tentative contract agreement can be reached by the deadline.
But until that happens, parents are preparing for a possible cancellation of classes.
Nanny Brooke Lindsay knows she needs to be flexible.
“I am just on standby, waiting to hear when school might start again; we are all eager,” Lindsay said.
But for many parents, last minute child care will be hard to find.
“Calling up a nanny or caregiver for a whole day is usually pretty impossible,” parent Iva Naffziger said.
That's why the Boys & Girls Clubs says it`s ready to help even with the short notice.
“All of the drop-in clubs will be open; licensed child care programs will be open to all registered members,” Jane Ronngren said.
Ronngren added that drop-in service will be first come, first served.
The city of Seattle is also working with other groups to help scrambling families.
“I know the parks department, the local Y, some other local nonprofits will be doing their jobs to support families in need,” Ronngren said.
“Super helpful. Parents who work, it’s very hard,” Naffziger said.
Naffziger is a stay-at-home mom and is grateful she doesn't have to worry about finding child care.
But she's concerned about the long-term quality of education for her children.
“I want my child in a classroom with a teacher who is happy to be there and who is not, 'Oh, I am here and I am not getting paid enough,'” Naffziger said.
Pay, recess time and testing are some of the key issues the two sides cannot agree on.
“People are fed up with it. They are just fed up with it,” para educator Debbie Cavitt said.
The Boys & Girls Clubs urged parents to call to get details if they want to drop off their child.
Also, the city of Seattle is extending before- and after-school programs into all-day camps at 16 designated community centers starting Wednesday, if there is a strike.
Those centers can take in about 850 students and they will be open next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, but only if there is a strike.
The city released a press release Friday afternoon:
“While we still hope that an agreement will be reached to allow school to start on time, the City is making arrangements to provide some relief to impacted families juggling childcare arrangements,” said Murray. “That’s why, for families with children already participating in Seattle Parks and Recreation before- and after-school programs, we will be expanding those program hours for them.”
“The heart of our work here at Parks and Recreation is to support kids and families,” said Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesús Aguirre. “If the strike takes place, we will do just that.”
The day camps, which will operate from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., will take place at 16 designated community centers around the city with capacity for approximately 850 children. They are for youth aged 5 to 12 who are enrolled in regular Parks and Recreation/ARC 2015-2016 school year before- and after-school programs. These day camps will operate only if school is not in session and will operate at no additional cost to families.
Parents or guardians can still register children by phone or at their home community centers.
Registration is first-come, first-served. Before- and after-school program registration paperwork must be completed to be eligible.
In the event of a strike, preschool programs will be canceled at all community centers for the duration of the strike. Families will receive a pro-rated credit for days missed. Displaced families can call the City of Seattle’s Childcare Hotline at 206-386-1050 for assistance in finding alternative child-care.
Children will be asked to bring a sack lunch. ARC will provide breakfast snacks and afternoon snacks, and will provide lunches for any children who do not bring one.
Parents or guardians must drop children off by 9 a.m. or Parks and Recreation will activate the waiting list.
At day’s end, Parks and Recreation/ARC will release children only to the authorized person, with identification, listed on the registration form.
Parks and Recreation and ARC will make every effort to accommodate a child’s special needs; however, the 1:15 ratio of child to staff does not allow for the extra attention provided in regular before and after school programs.
The day camps will take place at these centers:
- Northwest Seattle: Ballard, Bitter Lake and Magnolia community centers
- Northeast Seattle: Meadowbrook, Northgate and Ravenna-Eckstein community centers
- Central Seattle: Miller and Queen Anne community centers
- Southwest Seattle: Alki, Delridge, Hiawatha, High Point and South Park community centers
- Southeast Seattle: Rainier, Rainier Beach and Van Asselt (with Jefferson) community centers
In addition, Parks and Recreation’s Teen Life Centers (TLC) at Meadowbrook, Garfield and Southwest community centers will be open two hours earlier than normal from 11 a.m. each day until their regular closing times, available here.
Late Night Recreation programs will operate on their regular schedules at Bitter Lake, Delridge, High Point, Rainier, Rainier Beach, South Park and Van Asselt community centers and at the Garfield, Meadowbrook and Southwest TLCs.
Information about community centers is available here.
Additionally, all locations of The Seattle Public Library are open regular hours and Library staff members are ready to support students and families with resources and programs. Visit spl.org or call 206-386-4636 to find out the nearest library, the hours of operation and scheduled programs.