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Los Angeles district reaches agreement with union on resuming in-person classes

March 10, 2021
The plan, which union members must approve, aims for bringing elementary school students back in mid-April.

 A tentative agreement between the teachers union and the Los Angeles Unified School District is bringing students a step closer to resuming in-person instruction beginning in mid-April.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the agreement establishes safety parameters for a return to campus and lays out a schedule that still relies heavily on online learning. The school day would unfold under a hybrid format — students would conduct their studies on campus during part of the week and continue with their schooling online at other times.

Families would retain the option of keeping students in distance learning full time.

Under the agreement, members of United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents teachers, nurses, counselors and librarians, would not have to return to work until they have had access to Covid-19 vaccinations and have achieved maximum immunity—a period of up to six weeks. That duration period — plus the amount of time needed to get vaccination appointments — is the main driver of a district timetable aiming to restart elementary schools on April 19.

Middle and high schools would open later in April or early in May, according to a district source. 

At the elementary level, students would attend five days a week in either a morning or early-afternoon session. The staggered schedule would make smaller classes possible, in keeping with state recommendations to keep students at least six feet apart.

In middle and high schools, students would attend two days a week on a staggered schedule. But instead of moving from class to class, students would remain in their advisory classroom — similar to a homeroom base — for the full day.

From their advisory class, students would carry out distance learning essentially as they are doing now; they would be trading online-from-home for online-from-a-classroom under the supervision of a teacher. Students would then “move” from class to class online — as they are doing now at home.

Advisory teachers would have their own schedule of classes — which they would conduct from school, but not necessarily to the students in front of them. To avoid mutual distraction, students would be provided with noise-cancelling headsets.

Under the deal, the district would make “reasonable accommodations” for teachers when a doctor verifies that they are in a high-risk category related to Covid-19. Teachers who continue to work remotely for health reasons will be supported with an in-person substitute.

Other safety protocols also would be followed, including the mandatory wearing of masks.

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