LAUSD, teachers union reach deal for reopening schools by mid-April

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

Preschool and elementary schools would reopen first in mid-April and secondary schools would reopen by the end of April.

The deal allows for a combination of both in-person classes as well as continued online instruction.

A joint statement issued by LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner and United Teachers Los Angeles President Cecily Myart-Cruz said:

"As we have both stated for some time, the right way to reopen schools must include the highest standard of COVID safety in schools, continued reduction of the virus in the communities we serve and access to vaccinations for school staff. This agreement achieves that shared set of goals. It's our shared commitment to the highest safety standards and spirit of trust and collaboration we will take with us back to schools."

The deal includes provisions for regular COVID-19 testing, the wearing of masks and social distancing and extra efforts to keep schools clean and safe.

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The deal is still subject to ratification by the LAUSD Board of Education and the membership of UTLA. If approved, the agreement would be in effect through June 30.

Under the plan, preschoolers would have full-day in-person instruction, while elementary schoolers will use a hybrid model combining some time in class and the rest online. Class sessions will be staggered, with some students going in the morning and others in the afternoon to keep classes small enough to permit social distancing.

Students would still have the option of remaining entirely in distance learning.

For now, students in middle and high schools will continue learning online, although they can return to campus "for peer interaction, social-emotional learning and lessons for college and career exploration," according to the statement.

All students and staff will have to wear masks and practice social distancing and they will be tested for COVID-19 before returning to campus and weekly thereafter, the statement said.

Crucially, the agreement says teachers, along with nurses and other union members, won't have to return to work until they have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

The district is also setting up an operation team and safety hotline to help answer any questions school staff and families might have over the next few weeks.

The deal was announced as pressure grows on districts throughout the state to reopen soon.
California lawmakers recently passed a bill, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, that encourages school districts to reopen for in-person instruction by the end of March, with $2 billion set aside for districts that hit that goal. The state has also set aside 25,000 doses of vaccine for LAUSD staff.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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