What to know about LAUSD, teachers union deal to reopen schools

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Los Angeles Unified School District and the teachers union have struck a tentative deal that paves the way for a return to campus by mid-April.

In part, the agreement calls for pre-school and elementary schools to return for morning and afternoon sessions. Middle and high schools will mostly remain online with students returning to campus for career and college counseling and some social interaction.

Pre-schools and elementary schools will return to campus in the middle of April, while middle and high schools will return at the end of April.

Once approved by the board and teachers union, the new deal runs through the end of June.

"Since Day 1 of this pandemic our guiding mission has always been the health and safety of our students, their families and the Los Angeles education community," said UTLA president Cecily Myart-Cruz.

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California's public schools can tap into $6.6 billion of new state spending to return students to classrooms under a bill Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Friday that has attracted bipartisan support and scorn in equal measure.

The tentative agreement announced late Tuesday ended a tense few weeks, during which United Teachers Los Angeles union members overwhelmingly supported a statement saying they would not return to in-person classes until three conditions were met, most notably COVID-19 vaccinations of all school staff.

While hailed as a return to classes, the agreement actually proposed relatively limited face-to-face interaction between students and teachers, with elementary students returning to campus for three hours of instruction, either in the morning or afternoon, in alternate groups. Students will have the option of being on campus for the full day, but half the day would be spent in activities overseen by non-teachers.

All students will continue to have the option of remaining with solely online learning.

Under state guidelines, Los Angeles County schools can reopen for students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. Students in grades 7 through 12 can return to in-person classes once the county advances to the "red" tier of the state's economic reopening blueprint. That could happen as soon as this weekend.

The tentative agreement would maintain online instruction for secondary students, but they will have the chance to return to campus for "peer interaction, social-emotional learning and lessons for college and career exploration."

The agreement also calls for numerous standards to be in place, including required COVID testing of students and staff prior to their return to campus, followed by weekly testing; required masking and physical distancing for students, staff and visitors; school sanitation requirements and meals provided for students, whether they are receiving in-person or online instruction.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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