The alleged good news? Los Angeles public schools are finally going to start re-opening. The bad news? The "re-opening" is an incomprehensible joke -- and the agreement struck with the LA teachers' union almost seems deliberately designed to create the impression of re-opening without actually re-opening in a meaningful sense. I read these tweets about half a dozen times and still couldn't figure out what this arrangement would look like in practice:
I spoke to a veteran LAUSD middle school teacher tonight who says the plan makes no sense.— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) March 11, 2021
"I'm gonna be at my desk zooming with my regular classes, while every student in the [homeroom] will be Zooming their own teachers, nobody has the same schedule, for five hours straight!"
Elementary schools will open five days a week, but not for the full day, which is inexcusable and entirely untethered from any science. But middle and high schoolers will have the pleasure of returning to classrooms...two days per week...to sit at desks, stare at computer screens, with headphones in, with a teacher at the front of the classroom virtually teaching different groups of students elsewhere. What?! Utter madness. It makes absolutely no sense. It's remote learning five days a week. Students just happen to be located in different physical spaces every other day. More details from the Los Angeles Times:
Under the agreement, members of United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents teachers, nurses, counselors and librarians, would not have to return to work until they have had access to COVID-19 vaccinations and have achieved maximum immunity — a period of up to six weeks...The union has not signed off on a specific return date. Middle and high schools would open later in April or early in May, according to a district source who was not authorized to speak on the record...Middle and high schools would resume with even starker changes. Students would attend two days a week on a staggered schedule. But instead of moving from class to class, students would remain in their advisory classroom — similar to a homeroom base — for the full day. From their advisory class, students would carry out distance learning essentially as they are doing now; they would be trading online-from-home for online-from-a-classroom under the supervision of a teacher. Students would then “move” from class to class online — as they are doing now at home. Advisory teachers would have their own schedule of classes — which they would conduct from school, but not necessarily to the students in front of them. To avoid mutual distraction, students would be provided with noise-cancelling headsets.
I still cannot quite believe this is real. First of all, the CDC has stated that schools can open safely without teacher vaccinations as a prerequisite. This has been evidenced for months, as schools across the country and globe have been operating safely prior to vaccines being developed and approved. Secondly, teachers across California have already been given vaccine priority. What excuse is there not to return to classrooms sooner, with vaccinated teachers running the show? Third, once all teachers are vaccinated, why on earth should students be forced into this nonsensical schedule? There's no justification whatsoever for keeping students home three days per week after faculty are vaccinated, just as there's no justification for the "in person" learning to remain virtual. The science is clear that schools can and should be open today, for the health and safety of children.
This supposed breakthrough in Los Angeles allows for fake classroom learning, less than half of the time, starting in a month-and-a-half. It's outrageous. And by the way, the school year ends in early June, so we are talking about perhaps ten total days of "in-person" non-instruction in the entire current academic year. Remember, "the union has not signed off on a specific return date" yet. This is the same union whose members posted a reminder on an internal Facebook page that teachers not publicly share photographs from their spring break vacations, due to the bad optics. Note that they're not urging members not to travel for spring break; they just don't want to look like the hypocrites they are, jetting off to various destinations while insisting that classroom learning (again, deemed safe by science) is too dangerous to even partially resume for weeks. I'll leave you with this: