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LAUSD, Teachers Union Reach School Reopening Deal

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A worker at Burbank Middle School in L.A. Unified demonstrates steps to keep school facilities clean. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Los Angeles Unified School District officials have reached a long-awaited agreement with leaders of the district’s teachers’ union to resume on-campus instruction.

The deal with United Teachers Los Angeles was unveiled Tuesday evening.

One key condition for allowing students to return? The vaccination of staff. Under the deal, all school staff will have time to receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine -- and wait the recommended two weeks to gain full immunity -- before students return.

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE AGREEMENT

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  • Following the vaccination timeline, LAUSD officials hope to bring elementary students back by April 19, although this target date itself may not be included in the language of the agreement, school district sources said.
  • Middle and high schoolers would return later -- district officials hope by either late April or early May, the sources said.
  • Elementary students would attend in half-day shifts: The agreement calls for specific classes of students to have in-person instruction time either in the morning or the afternoon. (That squares with a March 6 proposal the union released.)
  • Middle- and high schoolers will attend Zoom classes from a classroom: Whenever LAUSD’s secondary students return to campuses, they’ll still attend most classes over Zoom, but they will have access to advisory teachers and other in-person supports, the sources said. This stems from the difficulty of redoing a school’s master schedule so late in the school year.
  • Employees in high-risk groups will be allowed to work remotely under the deal.

THE CONTEXT

Four of California’s five largest school districts have already announced plans to resume on-campus instruction -- including neighboring Long Beach Unified, as well as Fresno, Elk Grove and San Diego Unified (though the exact date of San Diego’s reopening may still be in flux).

UTLA leadership and members have said they would “resist” any move to return to campuses while L.A. County remains in the state’s most-restrictive purple tier, before a comprehensive safety agreement was in place, or before all staff were fully vaccinated.

LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner -- who himself has criticized hasty moves toward reopening -- has also called for the vaccination of staff as a precondition for opening schools.

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Now, L.A. County’s exit from the purple tier is imminent. Yesterday, UTLA said the two sides were “close to a tentative agreement” on safety protocols.

Plus, Beutner recently announced that Gov. Gavin Newsom had secured some 25,000 COVID-19 vaccinations for LAUSD -- enough to vaccinate all staff in LAUSD elementary schools.

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This story was updated at 8:08 p.m. Tuesday, March 9.