What to Know
- LAUSD’s more than 600,000 students have been learning online for almost a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
- A tentative agreement reached Tuesday night provides a number of “safety parameters” that would allow a partial reopening of campuses.
- Preschool and elementary schoolers would return in mid-April. Middle and high school students would follow at the end of April.
Students in the nation’s second-largest school district could return to class next month under a tentative deal announced Tuesday with the powerful teachers union.
The Los Angeles Unified School District and the union said the tentative agreement provides a number of “safety parameters” that would allow a partial reopening of campuses.
As with most other California public schools, LAUSD’s more than 600,000 students have been learning online for almost a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s our shared commitment to the highest safety standards and spirit of trust and collaboration we will take with us back to schools,” Superintendent Austin Beutner and United Teachers Los Angeles President Cecily Myart-Cruz said in a joint statement.
Link: See California's Safe Schools Reopening Map
The plan, which needs ratification by the school board and the union membership, lays out a roadmap for reopening schools after Los Angeles County drops from the state’s most-restrictive COVID-19 tier, purple, into the red tier, which county officials said could happen as early as this week.
Preschool and elementary schoolers would return in mid-April. Middle and high school students would follow at the end of April.
Crucially, the agreement says teachers, along with nurses and other union members, won’t have to return to work until they have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
The teachers union had demanded such a requirement in refusing to accept an earlier mid-April target date. In a statement Tuesday, however, Myart-Cruz said the agreement meets “all of our key safety protocols.”
The Board of Education appeared ready to approve the agreement.
“It’s been a long tough year but this is truly the best possible outcome,” member Jackie Goldberg said.
Under the plan, preschoolers would have full-day in-person instruction, while elementary schoolers will use a hybrid model combining some time in class and the rest online. Class sessions will be staggered, with some students going in the morning and others in the afternoon to keep classes small enough to permit social distancing.
Students would still have the option of remaining entirely in distance learning.
For now, students in middle and high schools will continue learning online, although they can return to campus “for peer interaction, social-emotional learning and lessons for college and career exploration,” according to the statement.
All students and staff will have to wear masks and practice social distancing and they will be tested for COVID-19 before returning to campus and weekly thereafter, the statement said.
According to the district and union, the agreement includes the following
- Daily in-person instruction for elementary school students in a hybrid morning/afternoon model.
- Daily online instruction for secondary students, with the opportunity to return to campus for peer interaction, social-emotional learning and lessons for college and career exploration.
- Full-day, in-person instruction for preschool students.
- Maintaining current teacher assignments whenever possible.
- Required COVID testing of students and staff prior to their return to campus, followed by weekly testing.
- Required masking and social distancing for students, staff and visitors.
- School sanitation requirements, with the district noting a $120 million upgrade to ventilation systems and to procure protective equipment and hire custodial staff.
- Social-emotional support for students.
- Additional teacher training.
- Meals provided for students, whether they are receiving in-person or online instruction.
The LAUSD and union released a joint statement Tuesday.
“The agreement provides for the reopening of schools when Los Angeles County is in the red tier according to the state school guidelines, that all staff have access to the COVID vaccine and that schools are kept clean and safe,” Superintendent Austin Beutner and UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said. “As we have both stated for some time, the right way to reopen schools must includ the highest standard of COVID safety in schools, continued reduction of the virus in the communities we serve and access to vaccinations for school staff. This agreement achieves that shared set of goals. It’s our shared commitment to the highest safety standards and spirit of trust and collaboration we will take with us back to schools.”