After 10 hours of negotiations, and with the start of the school year less than two weeks away, the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) reached an agreement with the Teachers Association of Long Beach (TALB) allowing teachers the option of working in school or from another location.
Teachers had protested not having that choice since earlier this summer with the resurgence of COVID-19 cases, saying that teaching in schools places them and their families at risk.
TALB’s executive board approved the Aug. 17 agreement– dubbed the Opening of Schools Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)– on Tuesday evening, Aug. 18.
LBUSD Superintendent Jill Baker announced that same day that the bargaining teams were able to find “common ground” about teaching location and other logistical issues.
“The agreements reached allow our educators to immerse themselves in the important work of preparing to educate more than 70,000 students,” Baker said.
LBUSD specified in its Aug. 17 bargaining update that the agreement allows members of the bargaining unit to work from another location provided they sign and submit an alternate-workplace agreement.
TALB said in its own Aug. 17 bargaining update that the “vast majority” of its 3,700 members will be granted flexibility on where they can teach.
The bargaining teams further agreed that the first two weeks of school will be minimum days to allow teachers additional time to prepare lessons and become familiar with Canvas, LBUSD’s new learning management system.
The four-page MOU also addresses safety, adherence to instructional models– including in-person, virtual-only and hybrid– use of teacher images, professional development and parent communication.
The agreement also states that LBUSD will not reduce unit members’ compensation and benefits if Los Angeles County or State Governor Newsom orders schools shut due to pandemic concerns.
“This is not a perfect MOU,” TALB said, even though bargaining teams negotiated in 14 separate Zoom meetings last weekend.
The teams will return to the table on Thursday, Aug. 20, to continue hashing out safety issues for teachers working directly with students or virtually from empty classrooms, and the amount of synchronous online instruction teachers have to perform, TALB said.
“The main challenge lies with providing early-education instruction for our preschool-age students who are in our Head Start and Child Development Centers unit,” TALB said.“If a school district provides early-education services for general-education students, the law requires the district provide similar services for our most vulnerable students requiring special education.”