Los Angeles Unified School District teachers have overwhelmingly approved the agreement for a return to traditional in-person instruction for the 2021-22 school year, their union announced Thursday evening.
In three days of voting that concluded Thursday, there were 11,485 yes votes, 94%, and 708 no votes, 6%, according to United Teachers Los Angeles.
“With the approval of this agreement, schools across Los Angeles will have critical COVID safety protocols in place when we welcome students back to the joys of full-time in-person learning,” UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said.
“The pandemic has challenged students, families, and educators in ways unimaginable, but it has also triggered innovation and taught us lasting lessons about the power of public education to heal. Educators are committed to meeting our students where they are and creating the healthy, healing, equitable schools that our students and their families deserve.”
The deal between the union and district includes standards for continued COVID-19 testing, mask-wearing and other safety protocols.
Superintendent Austin Beutner sent a letter to district employees June 10 saying the district’s goal is to educate students “in the safest possible environment, and we’re giving schools the resources to make this happen.”
Beutner said teachers were being added at all campuses, and the district “will not be displacing any teachers at school sites this coming school year.”
“Teachers will be able to remain at their current schools, and students, school staff and families will all benefit,” he wrote. “This continuity at schools will help to reinforce a sense of community while providing the best possible academic foundation for students.
“We have agreements in place with all of our labor partners for the 2021-2022 school year which reflect a renewed sense of trust and collaboration to help in the work that lies ahead. We are proud of the extraordinary things accomplished this past year and appreciate your tireless efforts which have made them possible.”
Beutner announced weeks ago that in-person, on-campus instruction would be offered to all students in the fall, although an online option will remain for those who are unable or choose not to return to the classroom.
Beutner has insisted that the district implemented “the highest set of safety standards of any school district in the nation” to protect against COVID-19 as campuses welcomed back students this spring, pointing to upgraded air-filtration systems, sanitation efforts and ample supplies of protective equipment.
Among the provisions of the labor agreement are a requirement for COVID-19 testing a minimum of every two weeks and maintaining a public “dashboard” to report all positive cases. The deal also calls for mandatory symptom-screening of all students, staff and visitors entering a school site, along with continued physical distancing requirements and mandatory wearing of masks — supplied by the district.
The proposed deal also calls for regular cleaning and replacement as needed of classroom air filters.
For students who opt to remain with online learning, the deal calls for elementary students to have three hours of daily live instruction in addition to assigned independent work. Secondary school students would have three 75-minute period per day with at least 40 minutes of live instruction per period, as well as assigned independent work.
The agreement also calls for all school sites to have a COVID-19 Compliance Task Force. It will go into effect Wednesday.