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Los Angeles School District & Teachers Union Tentatively Agree On Fall Distance-Learning Plan

Tom Tapp

As coronavirus numbers in the region showed a marked decline, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the union representing teachers announced a tentative agreement Monday on how to proceed with distance learning this fall. Efforts will be focused on providing a structured school day as campuses remain closed due to the coronavirus.

The proposal will go before the school board for a vote Tuesday and move to a vote of United Teachers Los Angeles members next week. If approved, it will remain in effect through December 31 or until students are back on campuses for regular instruction.

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In the meantime, school campuses will physically remain closed.

One sticking point in the negotiations had been a proposal that, while students would be home, teachers be required be in the classroom, where they would instruct students virtually. That proposal was dropped late last week, according to a post from UTLA.

Teachers and staff members are deemed essential workers under state guidelines.

In addition, the union said  the agreement stipulates that there will “be no evaluation of permanent teachers in 2020-21.”

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner said the academic year will still start the week of August 17 — though actual instruction will not begin until August 20, following several orientation days. No date has been set for resuming on-campus learning, with Beutner saying the risk remains too high.

“Our goal is to have students back in schools as soon as it is safe and appropriate to do so,” said Buetner. “The goal is to have as much teacher-led interaction with students as possible.”

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Highlights of the tentative agreement reached between the two sides include:

  • An average school day from 9 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.

  • Targeted small group instruction

  • Daily attendance

  • Opportunities for small group and independent student work

  • Social emotional support

  • Instructional training

  • Flexibility for teachers to work on campus or from home

  • Office hours for students and families to connect with teachers.

LAUSD also will continue to ensure that every student has a device and Internet connection at home, Beutner said.

Beutner promised that students at all levels would have “consistent schedules” with clear sets of expectations for teachers, students and families. Resource guides and checklists will be included with instructional materials.

Teachers also will be provided with child care.

“In order to support all who work in schools, we will be providing childcare at schools for those who are working at school sites,” he said, noting that schools are being cleaned and supplied with personal protective equipment for those workers and their children — practices that will continue once all students are able to come back to the classroom.

When schools are open to all, Beutner said, there will be a need to keep students farther apart with fewer students on campus at any one time, possibly requiring a hybrid model of in-school and at-home, online instruction.

Labor representatives said they will be back at the bargaining table if a hybrid model becomes possible this fall.

The school board Tuesday also is expected to consider putting a $7 billion school facilities bond before voters in November.

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