The union representing Los Angeles Unified teachers announced Friday it has reached an agreement with the district authorizing instructors to voluntarily provide in-person tutoring, student assessments and “targeted adult education classes.”
United Teachers Los Angeles President Cecily Myart-Cruz said such programs “require some level of in-person work.”
“We are gratified that we could reach an agreement that supports our most vulnerable students and follows best practices to uphold the health and safety of our school communities,” she said.
Teacher participation in such programs will be voluntary, and instructors will be permitted to refuse to take part or withdraw from participation “without reprisal.” The agreement mandates adherence to safety protocols, including coronavirus symptom screening for teachers and students, physical distancing of up to 10 feet when available, daily sanitation of work spaces and provision of personal protective equipment for students and teachers.
“All participating members and students must be tested at a district testing facility or private facility and cleared before providing or receiving in-person services,” Myart-Cruz said.
UTLA negotiated a distance-learning contract with the district that will remain in place until the end of the year, with the union opposing a return to campuses while the pandemic is continuing. The side agreement announced Friday does not change that stance, authorizing only limited in-person interactions in specialized programs.
The union, however, has begun negotiations with the district for an eventual return to classes.
“Let’s be crystal clear,” Myart-Cruz said. “This does not mean we are advocating for a return to physical campuses in the near future. There is no date to reopen. We are beginning discussions with the district so that when science tells us that’s it is safe to return, we will be ready to do so.
“We want to prevent in L.A. what happened in New York City,” she said. “NYC schools opened last week and many had to close because (of) a spike in cases there. We will not return until the necessary precautions and protocols are in place, and until health metrics and public health officials tell us it is safe to do so.”