United Teachers Los Angeles reached an agreement with the Los Angeles Unified School District to return to classrooms by mid-April.
“We’re making progress in our plans to reopen schools. The target remains mid-April for preschool and elementary school students, as well as students with learning difficulties and disabilities, and the end of April for secondary schools” said Austin Beutner, LAUSD superintendent.
UTLA reached an agreement with LAUSD on March 9.
“I always supported UTLA. I’m happy they reached an agreement with LAUSD” said Dr. Mary Reid.
The agreement reached allows for a combination of in-person classes as well as continued online instruction. Three requirements that UTLA and the superintendent want met are: the highest standard of health and safety practices at school, a continued reduction in the spread of COVID-19 throughout the communities served, and access to vaccinations for school staff.
“I agree with all the requirements,” said Dr. Reid. “The vaccinations are available for all teachers now. Mark Twain Middle School is conducting testing now and Hollywood High School is supposed to be the next site.”
The agreement provides for a hybrid model where some students will attend school in the morning and others in the afternoon to keep classes small enough to permit social distancing.
Weekly COVID testing will also be provided once returning to school. Masks and social distancing will be required at all times, teachers will be provided with additional professional development, and meals will be provided for students at school.
“Teachers’ concern is the health of students, their families, and school staff,” said Lee Tuomala, UTLA chapter chair. “It looks like there is progress towards ensuring vaccinations for all adults on campus, the rate of infection is dropping, and the cleaning protocols are being put into place. Full efficacy of vaccines takes about 6 weeks, so it will be a little longer before we’re back in school.”
As of now, students in middle and high school will continue to learn online, but will be able return to campus for peer interaction, social-emotional learning, and lessons for college and career exploration.
The district is setting up an operation team and safety hotline to help answer any questions that school staff and families might have.
“It is also important to mention that the voices of students and parents are quite important in this process. Whether it be to reshare hope, excitement, optimism, questions, concerns or wish lists, parents and students should write to Superintendent Beutner and Board Member Nick Melvoin” said Bodin Adler, NMA English teacher.