The United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) on Tuesday came to an agreement for schools in the state's largest school district to return to in-person learning.
According to the agreement, preschools and elementary schools, along with disability services, will reopen by mid-April. Middle and high schools are set to reopen by the end of April. But the change will only go into effect if Los Angeles County's tier status changes to red. As of now, the county is currently in the purple tier, the most restrictive tier based on "widespread" community spread. The red tier is one below purple, meaning there is "substantial" community spread.
Their definition of "reopening," however, doesn't mean fully in-person instruction. It's a hybrid model, meaning students will attend classes online and in-person.
Elementary students will be hybrid, either in the morning or afternoon but will have the ability to complete school completely online. Middle and high schoolers will stick with virtual learning but will have the "opportunity to return to campus for peer interaction, social-emotional learning and lessons for college and career exploration." Preschool students, however, will have the ability to return to fully in-person learning.
The agreement also states that all staff members must have access to the COVID vaccine, despite the Centers for Disease Control's guidelines stating vaccines are unnecessary to reopen schools. The risk of transmission is relativity low.
When schools finally do reopen, students and staff will be tested for the Wuhan coronavirus. Testing will be conducted on a weekly basis and masks and social distancing will be required on all campuses.
"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," Superintendent Austin Beutner and UTLA President Cicily Myart-Cruz said in a statement. "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 take with us back to school."
The news comes after the UTLA issued a warning to its members, telling them not to post Spring Break photos should they decide to travel. Leadership was concerned about the "optics" such photos would create, especially after the majority of its membership on Friday voted to keep schools closed.