Tens of thousands of Los Angeles teachers may have walked off the job amid a district-wide strike Monday -- the first in 30 years -- but for the roughly 600,000 students attending LAUSD schools, classes went on as scheduled.
An estimated 500 substitute teachers were hired to teach students on Monday, according to Shannon Haber, the chief communication officers of the Los Angeles Unified School District. That's in addition to the administrators -- including senior leaders -- and volunteers who are also assisting.
“All schools are open and our students our safe, and we are making sure that they are learning in the schools," Haber told KTLA in an interview at the district's headquarters in downtown L.A.
She encouraged concerned parents and guardians who have questions to call the LAUSD hotline at 213-443-1300. The district's call center is open from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is well-staffed.
The center had been flooded with calls -- nearly 400 by 7 a.m. -- and an overflow room had been set up for people handling the phone lines, according to LAUSD spokeswoman Monica Carazo.
The strike was initially set to begin last Thursday, but it was delayed as the district and the union representing the teachers -- United Teachers Los Angeles -- hoped to avert such action by reaching a last-minute deal.
But talks broke down over the weekend, and neither side renewed negotiations over the weekend.
Teachers are fighting for higher pay and smaller class sizes; LAUSD has countered if it met their demands, the district would be bankrupt -- likely within two to three years.
With the two sides at an impasse, more than 30,000 teachers have gone on strike. Many of them gathered outside schools with supportive students amid soggy conditions on a rainy Monday morning.
Carazo noted that the nation's second-largest school district has spent about six months preparing for that very possibility.
"Principals have been working around the clock with plans and ideas, and work plans and lessons to help with the strike … that's here," she said. "We're ready, we're prepared."
The last strike, in 1989, ended after nine days. Carazo told KTLA the district is hopeful this strike won't last as long -- but its ready in the event that it does.
"We do hope there is a resolution soon, for everyone's sake," she said.