Podcast | The struggle to keep Seattle schools safe and equitable

Superintendent Denise Juneau discusses her plans to keep students and teachers healthy while reopening, and reflects on how the district could have better responded to the pandemic.

split of school supplies and Denise Juneau

Outgoing superintendent of Seattle schools, Denise Juneau discusses her tenure and details on how the district may bring students and teachers back to campus. (Crosscut)

The COVID-19 pandemic has made this one of the most unusual and challenging school years in modern history. The arrival of multiple vaccines in recent months has not made it any easier.

As the number of Americans who have been vaccinated has slowly climbed, the pressure to bring students and teachers back into a classroom setting has also increased. Along with that pressure have come fears from some teachers and families over the safety of congregating before a vaccine has been widely distributed.


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In the midst of this conflict, Seattle Public Schools has announced plans to begin a phased reopening later this winter, but the details are still murky. To help clarify things, Crosscut invited outgoing Superintendent Denise Juneau to join us for a live Northwest Newsmakers event last week.

Juneau, who will be leaving her post in June, discussed what the district has planned to keep students and teachers safe, where the district went wrong in its response to the pandemic and what she hopes it will learn from this historically challenging year. She also reflects on her three years in the job, the challenges she has faced in targeting inequity in the schools and how the district has set itself up for success in the future.