LAUSD and UTLA tentatively agree to reopen some campuses in April. Teachers are excited and apprehensive

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The playground at one LAUSD elementary school sits empty in Culver City, California, March 1, 2021. On March 11, 2021, the Los Angeles Unified School District and its teachers union, UTLA, reached a tentative agreement to reopen some classrooms as soon as April. Photo by Amy Ta.

The Los Angeles Unified School District and its teachers union, UTLA, reached a tentative agreement to reopen some classrooms as soon as April, with a goal of offering in-person options to all students by May.

The plan is supposed to allow enough time for teachers and staff to get fully vaccinated. But school will look very different when students are back on campus.   

KCRW checks in with two LAUSD educators who have been teaching remotely for an entire year. 

Kristie Collette, who teaches third grade at Newcastle Elementary, has been vaccinated and feels optimistic about the agreement reached with the district. She says, “I’m actually very excited to go back to school and see the kids in person. I do have some apprehensions. Of course it’s a little scary but definitely something to look forward to.” 

Aviva Alvarez-Zakson teaches world history and ethnic studies at Hamilton High School. She describes how the on-campus experience might play out: “For high school, the current proposal is that students would be cohorted with their advisory classes, which is like our emotional support class for all of our students, so they have a home base to go to with a teacher.”

She points out that some students simply need a place to go because they’re unhoused or their home environments are not conducive to learning, so being on campus will be helpful. 

“I still don’t really know how things like lunch and passing periods will work. … But I’m open to seeing what the plans are in detail,” Alvarez-Zakson points out. 

Collette says for elementary kids, the proposal is having morning and afternoon schedules. “Even when the school is open, the kids are probably going to be there maybe about half time. So maybe two days a week, or four half days a week.” 

She says her biggest concern about the new schedules: “How much more instructional time is going to get cut because of that?”

UTLA members still need to approve this deal with the LAUSD Board of Education, and that’s expected to occur next week.

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