Los Angeles schools will continue with mask requirements and COVID-19 testing for students in the fall. This despite the new school year being months away and the current school year, which has been entirely remote, only just coming to a close.
Middle and high school students have been subjected to remote learning since schools closed in LA in March 2020. This has been true even for kids that have returned to school; they are still sitting in front of screens engaged in remote learning.
Masking will be mandatory for those who are vaccinated and those who are not. Testing will happen at least once every two weeks. Daily symptoms screening will also remain in place.
The plan to keep kids masked and randomly COVID-19 tested comes after an agreement was reached between the school district and the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), according to the LA Times.
UTLA issued a statement saying that “The agreement maintains the necessary COVID-19 protocols that have proven to keep students, staff, families, and the education community safe.”
The district said they were planning to keep these measures in place anyway, even before an agreement was reached.
The school district had to get an agreement in place prior to July 1, when the state requirements that schools actually offer a full-time, in-person education come back into effect under penalty of decreased state funding.
Students will not be required to attend school, however. The LA Times reports that “The agreement also includes details about the class day for students whose families decide to keep them home in the fall. Elementary students would have at least three hours of live online instruction every school day. Middle and high school students would have three 70-minute periods per day. Each period must provide at least 40 minutes of live online instruction. Online programs will not be available at every campus but will be provided centrally at each of the more than 40 ‘communities of schools.'”
It was nearly a year ago that UTLA made demands that needed to be met before they would permit teachers to go back to school. These had nothing to do with COVID-19 safety, and in some cases, nothing to do with education. They were:
“The UTLA called for at least $500 billion in federal assistance to K-12 schools. Medicare-for-All must be passed. California must implement a wealth tax on unrealized capital gains for the state’s billionaires, and surtaxes on state residents that earn over $1 million a year.
“UTLA called for the Los Angeles police to be defunded, saying “police violence is a leading cause of death and trauma for Black people, and is a serious public health and moral issue.” The UTLA also said charter schools are “double-dipping” by accepting federal CARES act funding while also receiving state funding, and there should be a moratorium on them.”
In November, teachers unions across the board demanded more money and still refused to go back to work. Yet in March 2021, as the debate over reopening kicked into high gear and kids were still remote learning, teachers in the UTLA were advised not to post their spring break pictures online.
Why? Because a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the union was still advocating to keep schools closed, calling a return to in-person learning “unsafe,” and teachers partying it up on vacation would ruin that narrative.
In a private Facebook group called UTLA FB GROUP-Members Only, 5,700 members were warned to keep their pictures private. According to Fox News, the post read:
“Friendly reminder: If you are planning any trips for Spring Break, please keep that off of Social Media. It is hard to argue that it is unsafe for in-person instruction, if parents and the public see vacation photos and international travel.”
The teachers weren’t advised not to go on vacation or socialize while continuing to advocate for schools to remain closed due to “unsafe” conditions; they were simply advised not to tell anyone about it. The appearance of hypocrisy was deemed to be way more damning than the hypocrisy itself.
In March, an agreement was reached for pre-school and elementary school classes to resume mid-April and secondary schools will return to school by the end of April. This had secondary school students back in school, but they were still learning remotely within the classroom, and not engaging in normal school activity.