California teachers unions are teaming up with Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom to keep COVID-19 restrictions on learning even after students return to in-person schooling this fall.
While children only represent 13 percent of all COVID-19 cases and a much smaller percentage of total deaths, the state’s health department and Newsom are requiring all children in government K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask in school this fall.
“15% of our population remains without the option for vaccination (children under 12 years old are not yet eligible) and risk for COVID-19 exposure and infection will remain until we reach full community immunity,” the guidance states.
Los Angeles Unified School District was one of the many districts to cave to teachers union demands before they would return to teaching in the classroom. In their “deal” with LAUSD, the United Teachers Los Angeles union was awarded mandates for students to remain in masks, “COVID-19 testing a minimum of every two weeks,” “a public ‘dashboard’ to report all positive cases,” and symptom screening for everyone who sets foot on school property.
Superintendent Austin Beutner also promised to provide “regular cleaning and replacement as needed of classroom air filters” as part of the district’s “full reopening” but some parents are not convinced he is sincere about getting kids back in school.
Virtual classes will still be available for LAUSD students to opt into but those who choose the district’s ongoing remote learning plan will only receive three hours a day of “live instruction” if they are in elementary school and only “three 75-minute periods per day with at least 40 minutes of live instruction per period” for middle and high school students per day.
Teachers in the West Contra Costa Unified school district also used their influence through the United Teachers of Richmond union and pandemic power to leverage smaller class sizes as the district seeks to “fully reopen.” During their negotiations with the district, UTR accused school officials of using “bad-faith bargaining” to bring kids back to in-person schooling,
“California educators stand in strong opposition to the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom,” California Teacher Association’s president E. Toby Boyd wrote in a statement. “From our classroom vantage point during the pandemic, we didn’t always agree on approach, but we’ve never questioned his commitment to California’s students and public education.”