(CNN)Seattle Public Schools has come to a tentative agreement with the Seattle Education Association amid a strike that delayed the start of the school year by at least five days as educators negotiated with the district for improvements to classroom sizes, pay and health services.
“SPS and SEA bargaining teams have come to a tentative agreement,” Seattle Public Schools tweeted late Monday. “We will share an update on the start of school tomorrow afternoon. We look forward to welcoming students and staff for the 2022-23 school year.”In a similar statement announcing the tentative agreement, the educators’ union said members “should all be proud of what we accomplished and what we stood up for.”As Seattle educators remain on strike, other school districts in the state reach agreements or face similar movements“We stuck together, made our strength and unity known, and it worked,” the Seattle Education Association tweeted. “Our solidarity on the picket lines and the enormous community support we received made all the difference.”Details of the agreement haven’t been released.Read MoreThe strike began Wednesday, which was scheduled as the first day of school for about 50,000 students in the Seattle school district. The district announced earlier Monday that schools would remain closed Tuesday.The action came as schools around the country face shortages of teachers, who are increasingly voicing frustration at being underpaid and underappreciated, teaching in crowded classrooms and in challenging conditions made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic.In Seattle, educators went on strike to demand more support for students, including interpretation and translation services for those receiving multilingual education, and improved special education staffing ratios, according to the Seattle Education Association, which represents about 6,000 employees.Teachers from Seattle Public Schools picket outside Roosevelt High School on what was supposed to be the first day of classes Wednesday.”We’re educators. We don’t have lots of experience with striking. It’s not what we want to be doing. We want to be in our schools with our students,” teacher Ellen Santarelli said in a Facebook video. “However, to get what our students need … we are willing to go outside of our comfort zones — thousands of steps outside of our comfort zones.”The union also advocated for higher wages and more support and controls to prevent educator burnout, including capping some class sizes. Why labor unions are having a moment right nowEducators were on the picket lines for days, holding up signs that read “make mental health a priority,” “fund essential supports,” and “students should be able to see a nurse any schoolday.” Students will also not be going to school Tuesday at another district in Washington state — the Ridgefield School District — as bargaining teams continue monthslong negotiations. Ridgefield teachers went on strike Friday, calling for more mental health supports, improvements for special education students and a better program for student interventions at the district, which enrolls about 3,850 students near the Oregon border.They joined thousands of other educators around the country who in recent weeks have also taken to the picket lines to negotiate for better contracts and improved classroom conditions.Math teacher Royce Christensen pickets outside Roosevelt High School in Seattle Wednesday.Last week, another Washington state public school district — the Kent School District — ended talks that had similarly delayed the academic year since getting underway in July.Teachers in Kent, represented by the Kent Education Association, ended their strike after reaching an agreement with the school district.Two weeks prior, a Columbus, Ohio, teacher’s union ended a dayslong strike over classroom conditions and teacher pay after reaching an agreement, which included guarantees that classrooms will be climate controlled by the beginning of the 2025-2026 academic year, as well as a reduction in class sizes.Teachers at Ohio’s largest school district had complained that students in some cases had to learn in classrooms with no functional air conditioning.