Newsom announces agreement between teachers and school officials amid closures


APRIL 02, 2020 12:37 PM, UPDATED APRIL 02, 2020 12:53 PM

California Governor Gavin Newsom gave an update on the coronavirus pandemic on Mar. 17, 2020. In the update, he said Californians shouldn’t expect to go back to school anytime soon.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a major agreement Wednesday between teachers and school management that provides guidance on pay, benefits and distance learning.

The framework, which is not a directive, was agreed upon by teachers, classified employees, school boards, superintendents and principals. It will allow more students to receive school resources as schools remain closed to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

“While schools might be physically closed, class is still in session,” said Governor Newsom in a news release. “This agreement is good news for students and parents, and the announcement means that more California kids will have tools to learn at home during this crisis.”

Those who endorsed the agreement include the California Department of Education, California Teachers Association, California School Employees Association, and the California School Boards Association.

The principles include:

? All pay and benefits for K-14 school employees should continue throughout the remainder of the school year.

? Employees do not need to use accrued leave to comply with a medical professional’s recommendation to self-quarantine or care for someone in their household during the pandemic.

? All parties should deliver education through “practical means,” including distance learning and independent study. Educators “may need to perform functions that are reasonably similar to their typical roles prior to the COVID-19 emergency, but nothing in this section should be construed to relieve the district of its obligation to negotiate additional duties with the exclusive representative.”

? Meals should continue to be provided to students.

The agreement provides a framework so teachers and school leaders can minimize the effect school closures have on students. Both Newsom and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said it was very unlikely schools will physically reopen for the remainder of the school year.

The collaboration will benefit school districts like Sacramento City Unified, which has laid out a three-step plan to implement such a program with its labor partners.

Sacramento City Unified plans to implement its program by April 13, around the same time several other districts in the area plan to officially begin. Officials said while they support the efforts of principals and teachers who already began communicating with their students, a district-wide program is needed.

Sacramento City Unified and the Sacramento City Teachers Association have already determined which students need electronic resources, and began providing online training for teachers. The district and SCTA will discuss how to implement online instruction by mid-April, including identifying the responsibilities for employees outside of the classroom: counselors, social workers, nurses, librarians, speech and hearing specialists and others.

Newsom also announced that a partnership with Google will allow the state to provide more Chromebooks and 100,000 hotspots — particularly in rural communities — so students have access to free, high-speed internet.

More than 98 percent of California’s 6 million students are now at home. The remaining open schools are in rural areas, according to Newsom.

“I am so proud of every sector of our state — private, public, labor — coming together to meet this moment, and I am calling on other companies to match Google’s investment today to ensure our students and teachers have the resources they need to continue their education during this time,” said Newsom.

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