Los Angeles Teachers Union president Cecily Myart-Cruz said 91% of union members voted Friday night to stay out of classrooms until union demands are met. A total of 24,850 UTLA members cast ballots, she said.
“That’s powerful,” said Myart-Cruz. “UTLA members voted overwhelmingly to resist premature and unsafe physical return to school locations.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a $ 6.6 billion legislative package this week that will incentivize schools to resume in-person tuition for students through second grade by April 1 and provide funding to to make up for the learning lost during the COVID-19 pandemic by extending the school year.
The legislation creates a $ 2 billion incentive pool that will be used to distribute money to schools reopening campus to preschool through second grade students and needy students of all ages. The money will be used for safety improvements such as ventilation systems and protective equipment.
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The proposal does not envisage reopening schools, but those who fail to do so by April 1 will lose 1% of their share of the funds for every day they miss the deadline.
LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner had set a target for reopening elementary schools for face-to-face teaching in mid-April, but the UTLA union did not agree to that date, which it claims is the subject of working talks.
The union is demanding that all teachers and school staff be vaccinated before going back to face-to-face teaching. She also doesn’t want the campus reopened until Los Angeles County gets off the “purple” tier. Union officials argue that while nationwide transmission rates have fallen below 25 per 100,000 residents, many neighborhoods served by LAUSD have lower income rates three times higher than wealthier communities.
The members of the UTLA agreed to a declaration of objection to the reopening of the campus, saying that personal lessons cannot be resumed until the district is in the “red” level. All school staff who return to work in person are “either fully vaccinated or have access to a full vaccination”. Schools have security measures such as protective equipment, social distancing, ventilation and “cleaning” measures.