L.A. teachers’ union votes to reject return to in-person learning until conditions are met

Nation/world

Teachers from some of the biggest districts have come out against a $6.6 billion plan signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom aimed at returning students to classrooms.

They say schools can’t reopen until infection rates drop and enough educators have been vaccinated.

Among them is the powerful United Teachers of Los Angeles, whose members voted Friday to reject what they called an unsafe return for the second-largest district in the nation.

This week, the union slammed the reopening plan as “a recipe for propagating structural racism” by benefiting wealthier, whiter areas with lower infection rates.

“This vote signals that in these most trying times, our members will not accept a rushed return that would endanger the safety of educators, students, and families,” union President Cecily Myart-Cruz said.

UTLA members said they remain committed to distance learning until L.A. County is out of the purple tier, staff are either fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or provided access to full vaccination, and schools are following virus safety protocols.

While California businesses have opened and closed through the ups and downs of the pandemic, many school boards have not been willing to return students to classrooms as they have struggled with the costs to implement safety standards and negotiations with teachers unions.

To be eligible for the money, most districts will have to offer in-person learning for all elementary school grades. But the law does not require a return to classrooms for most middle and high school students and does not mandate how long the students must be in classrooms.

That’s prompted fears that some districts could return students just one day per week and still be eligible for the money.

OpenSchoolsCA, a parents’ group that has advocated for in-person schooling, called the legislation “another failed attempt” at reopening classrooms that won’t be enough to persuade many districts, especially in large cities.

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