Bargaining update: UTLA rejects forced return to schools and micro-structured workday

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UTLA Bargaining update

The UTLA Bargaining Team is in daily negotiation sessions with LAUSD this week on our critical priorities: to not reopen physical schools until it is safe to do so and to strengthen crisis distance learning so it works better for educators, parents, and students — especially our most vulnerable students.

Today, the district proposed requiring educators to provide virtual instruction from their school site classrooms, along with a micro-structured 8:30 am-3 pm school day. LAUSD’s proposals would require an excessive amount of screen time that is not healthy for children, would diminish educators’ professional discretion, and would leave little time for much-needed collaboration.

Our UTLA Bargaining Team rejected these proposals outright.

“The district’s attempt to force staff back to school sites is out of step with the raging pandemic around us,” UTLA Bargaining Team Co-Chair Arlene Inouye said. “We urge the district to turn away from unsafe directives and toward ideas that will truly support our students, like a Smart Start to school to set a solid foundation for crisis distance learning and a weekly Student Support Day to provide the critical social, emotional, and academic supports needed to fully engage in the educational program. There are no shortcuts to dealing with the deep trauma our students have been living through. Last March, we shut down schools with no time to prepare. For this new round of crisis distance learning, we need to set the stage for the best possible outcomes for our students.”

UTLA presented an initial package of conceptual proposals to the district on the impact and effects of starting instruction for the 2020-2021 school year. Our framework, which is subject to negotiation, focuses on the supports students and educators need for remote learning, including:

    •    No required physical return to campuses. 

    •    A “Smart Start” for the first two weeks of the school year, including using instructional time for walk-through sessions on technology to be used in class and engaging students in deep social-emotional learning in response to the trauma we’re all living through.

    •    Appropriate and effective technology, WiFi access, and tech support for all preK-12 students, parents, and staff.

    •    Consistent schedules for elementary and secondary schools with regular student-teacher engagement that is appropriate, pedagogically sound, and includes — but does not solely rely on — live instruction. Our proposed schedule meets all of the instructional requirements of state law.

    •    A weekly Student Support Day for staff to outreach to students and families and provide the critical social, emotional, and academic supports needed to fully engage in the educational program and allow collaboration between grade levels and departments for best practices in our virtual environment.

    •    Daily small group advisory periods to support social-emotional learning and systemic scheduling of itinerant educators (including arts, dance, music, and theater arts) to ensure a broad curriculum. 

    •    Increased support for Special Education, including substitute coverage during IEP sessions and mutually voluntary in-person assessments when appropriate and safe.

    •    Paid prep time for HHS professionals (including School Nurses) before the school year for reengaging with families, identifying resources, setting up crisis teams, identifying students with chronic absences, and other critical work.

    •    Because of unprecedented crisis learning circumstances, no evaluation of permanent teachers in 2020-2021, not less than 48-hour notice required for administrator observation of live virtual instruction, and probationary teachers being evaluated would have option of using recorded instruction for their evaluations.

    •    Expanded academic support by substitute educators through assisting with breakout instruction and covering advisory periods and IEP sessions, along with extended professional development and protection of earned healthcare for substitute educators. 

    •    Guidelines for Psychiatric Social Workers, Pupil Services and Attendance counselors, School Psychologists, and itinerant Special Education educators, including flexibility to conduct sessions virtually, by phone, or in person upon issuance of formal guidelines by the district.

    •    Secondary Counselors given the time to reprogram all secondary students for distance learning before the new school year begins. 

    •    Age-appropriate platforms and district-provided manipulatives for early learners, along with a maximum screen time of 45 minutes for children under 5 years of age. 

Our Bargaining Team is back at the table tomorrow. If we reach an agreement with the district, it will be put to a vote of the membership.


Monday, July 27, 2020 — From the table today: The UTLA Bargaining Team