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student masks

Masks will be required in Los Angeles district when the 2021-22 year begins

June 11, 2021
The district and the union representing teachers have reached a tentative agreement for how to operate safely in the coming school year.

Masks will required this fall for students and staff at Los Angeles public schools, and coronavirus testing will continue for all, under a tentative agreement between the Los Angeles Unified District and the teachers union.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the mask mandate would continue regardless of whether employees or students are vaccinated, with rare potential exceptions for students with disabilities.

“The agreement maintains the necessary Covid-19 protocols that have proven to keep students, staff, families, and the education community safe,” the United Teachers Los Angeles said.

Coronavirus testing would take place at least once every two weeks. Daily screening for symptoms also would be required for students, staff and visitors before entering a campus. This screening has typically consisted of a temperature check and a verbal self-affirmation of good health.

In a letter sent to employees, Los Angeles Superintendent Austin Beutner emphasized another aspect of the agreement.

“We will not be displacing any teachers at school sites this coming school year,” Beutner wrote. “Teachers will be able to remain at their current schools, and students, school staff and families will all benefit. This continuity at schools will help to reinforce a sense of community while providing the best possible academic foundation for students.”

In the tentative deal, the district also affirmed its commitment to cleaning all classrooms, restrooms and work spaces “regularly” and making sure that “all high-touch surfaces are disinfected daily.”

One measure in force this spring has been a rule requiring six feet of distance between desks. That rule led to smaller classes, about half the usual size, because of space limitations — and a half-time on-campus schedule. However, starting in summer, the separation will be three feet, which is essentially how far desks are separated in a traditional classroom. What still may not work, however, is the once-common practice of pushing desks together or grouping students at tables.

The new agreement does not specifically address a three-foot, six-foot or other standard. Instead, it specifies following “the most current” guidelines of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, which has endorsed the three-foot standard.

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