Superintendent Enfield's message to families on Wednesday touched a nerve that taps into the frustration and anger many of us are feeling right now. Dr. Enfield has a few words about that, and she also shares some good news about vaccination for Highline staff.
[MUSIC PLAYING] Hello, Highline. This week I sent a letter to families explaining where we are in the process of negotiating our return to in-person learning for our elementary students. The purpose of my message was twofold. First, to just provide in factual terms where we were, and the facts are that despite the hard work of our district and HEA bargaining teams reaching a tentative agreement, that agreement was not ratified by HEA members. That means that our bargaining teams are back at the table, and they will continue to work towards that.
The second goal, though, of my letter was to truly empathize with the disappointment and frustration that so many of our families and students and staff, frankly, are experiencing right now. Now, I've heard from some staff and families that they felt the tone of my message was completely off. They felt that I was blaming or shaming. That couldn't be further from the truth.
I empathize deeply with the challenges that our teachers have faced and are facing in providing remote instruction. That won't change. At the same time, though, I empathize with our families and our students who are ready and eager to come back into our school buildings.
And as I said to one of our teachers who contacted me, I hear you. But what you don't hear are the daily messages that I get from families desperate for their children to be back in school. I have to hear both of those. And then, along with the board and our leadership team, we have to make decisions that do our very best to serve everybody as best we can. And I can tell you right now that's an almost impossible task. But we keep trying.
So I want to be clear. My intent was to inform and to empathize, not in any way to blame or shame. And as I reflected on the response to the letter, it got me thinking about where we are as a broader society and as a community right now. And we're polarized. And we're in a place where to agree with one person means you must disagree with another, or to take one position negates you from being able to take another position.
Two things can be true at the same time. I can support and empathize with our staff and with our families, and frankly, that's my job. And I will continue to do it as best I can.
So there are great reasons, though, to be hopeful, and I am hopeful. And here's why. Number one, as I mentioned, our bargaining teams are back at the table today working hard to come to agreement, which I'm confident that we will. And number two, I have been advocating at the state and the federal level for our educators to be prioritized for the vaccine and have been working with local health care providers to have a plan in place once that day came.
Well, as we all know, thanks to President Biden, that day came yesterday. And because we had plans in place, we will be providing a vaccination clinic dedicated to Highline staff this Sunday. We believe will be able to vaccinate upwards of 1,000 staff, and we are prioritizing those staff who are already working with students in person or who will be.
It's that first step on getting to the next step. And I am grateful to our partners in the Highline community who are helping to make this happen. And I hope that this gives more of our staff and our families peace of mind, because that's our goal. We will continue to do everything we can to keep health and safety at the forefront while making sure that we are bringing our students back into our buildings so they can be with the teachers and staff that they love and end the school year in person-- from a distance, with a mask, albeit, but in person, which is where they belong.
I know this journey has been difficult, and there will still be tough days ahead. But as a community, we have come together, and we have overcome so much over the last year. Let's not turn on one another now. Let's rally together and move forward together. I've never been prouder to be a part of this community, and I'm grateful for your ongoing partnership and support. Please stay safe, strong, and healthy.