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LAUSD, Teachers Agree To Distance Learning Ground Rules — Schedules, Grades, Video

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This year, no students in the Los Angeles Unified School District will receive a lower overall grade than they had in March.

That guideline is part of a labor deal announced today between LAUSD and its teachers union. The agreement formalizes how the district will operate so long as the coronavirus forces campuses to remain closed — which very well could be for the rest of this school year. (For now, LAUSD campuses remain scheduled to be closed through May 1.)

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United Teachers Los Angeles shared full terms of the deal. Here’s some of what jumps out:

  • Teachers will provide instruction for, on average, 240 minutes — that’s four hours — per day. Planning time, training and faculty meetings will count toward these minutes. “We know that the vast majority of our members are doing way more than the average,” UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl said in a briefing on Facebook Live (see video above). But he added that the agreement acknowledges many teachers need time to care for their own children, elderly parents or sick family members: “Life happens.”
  • Teachers should set regular schedules and stick to them. The idea is to “avoid scheduling conflicts.” The deal also codifies LAUSD’s earlier call for teachers to hold three regular “office hour” sessions per week.
  • Students' grades can still go up, but they can’t go down. Elementary students will not receive lower final grades than they had on March 13; secondary students, no lower than they had on March 31. (Other districts are adopting similar hold-harmless grading policies following guidance from the California Department of Education.)
  • Live video instruction = not mandatory. “Many of our members are already using live video,” Caputo-Pearl said on Facebook Live — but ensuring that live videoconferencing with students didn’t become mandatory was a huge issue for the union. Many union members are concerned about privacy and hackers on videoconference platforms.
  • Special education. UTLA and LAUSD agreed to ensure that legally-protected learning plans for students with special needs “are implemented to the maximum extent possible [or feasible].” The deal also acknowledges the need for “flexibility” in how these services are delivered. (Many parents of kids with special needs say services have simply stopped.)

The agreement also covers issues of pay — including for substitute teachers — and evaluations.

LAUSD officials issued a joint statement with the union saying, “Our shared goal is to help students continue to learn and support students and families most in need.”

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