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LA school district, teachers reach tentative deal for more predictable remote learning schedules for students

Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES -- Even though they will be at home, Los Angeles students will have a predictable learning schedule that resembles a regular school day when the fall semester starts in two weeks, under a tentative agreement over rules for instruction reached by teachers and the district.

The official school day would last from 9 a.m. until 2:15 p.m. Classroom teachers are expected to work an average of six hours per day, which means that some work is expected to take place outside of the set schedule.

The school day would include daily live online interaction, small group work and independent work as well as time to focus on the social and emotional needs of students. There is also time for office hours, during which students and families could connect with teachers.

Schools would have the option to develop alternative schedules through a district waiver process. It was not immediately clear how much latitude a waiver would allow.

The pact would resolve a major hurdle that was creating uncertainty among parents and teachers alike as the Aug. 18 start of the school year quickly approaches. The union, United Teachers Los Angeles, has said it will put the agreement to a vote of its membership, which is expected to take place next week. The deal also would need the approval of the Board of Education.

The school board is scheduled to meet Tuesday. A major item on that agenda is whether the board will put a $7 billion school facilities bond before voters in November. Officials have said the bond would help replenish funds spent in response to the pandemic as well as to meet other needs.

 

The six-page agreement with teachers also would limit a session of screen time for preschoolers to no more than 45 minutes.

The pact also establishes work expectations for nonteaching union members such as counselors, who were paid their full-time salaries in the spring even though their duties were vague, leaving adrift some students and families for whom they provided vital services. After campuses closed, there were numerous problems serving students with disabilities and students who needed special support because they are learning to speak English.

The deal, which is called a side-letter agreement, specifies that nonteaching union members -- who also include nurses and librarians -- will work the hours that had been expected of them prior to the campus shutdown. Principals appear to have some latitude in assigning nonteachers duties when they cannot perform their regular tasks or cannot perform them in the usual way.

It had appeared as though an agreement on teaching rules would be reached late Friday afternoon, but the two sides had trouble ironing out final details. In general, the district was pushing for a longer school day than the union, which favored more flexibility. The gap between the two proposals was not vast but district officials were evidently asserting that the differential would prove important over time.

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