VTA Reopening Schools Update

At the School Board meeting on Tuesday night the Board approved the Reopening Schools Committee’s plans for a staged, partial-attendance start of school.  So the plan now is to be back at school on August 17th at stage 3 with high school and middle school on a modified block schedule and 50% attendance and elementary on an AM/PM schedule.  As conditions change we can move to looser or more restrictive stages based on recommendations from the State of California and the Solano County Dept. of Health. 

A lot of people have a lot of questions.  I’m going to answer as many as I can but a lot of the questions are things we are still working on, or aren’t something that VTA can control.  I know this is causing anxiety for people but we are dealing with this as best we can and as quickly as we can.  We are meeting with the district to bargain our working conditions when we return, and the Reopening Schools Committees are still meeting as well.  I will give you as much info as I can and we’ll be updating this as we get new info.

Leave – You can apply for Unpaid Voluntary Leave if you would rather not return to work.  We are talking with admin. about whether you would also be able to get unemployment benefits while you do that.  We have an MOU in place that guarantees that you can return to your position when the next year starts (For secondary you might not have the same classes, but you would be guaranteed your job.)  Some people have asked about a 50% leave because of childcare or sharing a job with someone else.  The district can grant or deny leaves and you should contact them about what you would like. Right now the deadline for requesting leave is July 15th, but we are going to ask the district to push it back again.

Virtual Teaching – The district is committed to providing distance learning options to parents and they will need teachers for that. If you are interested in teaching virtually contact Chris Hulett in HR.  We are still working out how they will choose distance teachers and assign them to classes.  If you think distance teaching might be an appropriate accommodation for you, please fill out the Return-to-Work Questionnaire and return it to HR.

Masks, gloves, and PPE’s – Right now there is a governor’s mandate that everyone wear a mask.  The district has received face shields for teachers and will require face coverings, as of now.  There is still discussion on whether or not you can require students to wear a mask and what we will do with a student that refuses to wear one. CTA has stated that the governor’s mandate applies to schools and we have the right to enforce it, but the district is still deciding whether they agree with that.

Cleaning – The plan that the board adopted has cleaning days built into the school calendar and the custodial staff has been working over the summer to get ready for the cleaning that will have to be done. The district hasn’t decided what cleaning will be done during the school day, but we will be talking with them about this, and we will be bargaining with the district over any cleaning requirements for teachers.

Symptom screening – The district hasn’t decided what symptom screening of teachers, parents, or students they are going to do. There are different levels of screening that could be done from mandatory Covid tests to just watching your students and yourself for possible symptoms.  We are still discussing this with the district.

Quarantine protocol – There are a lot of possible situations for what happens when someone tests positive.  What do we do if a teacher is sick?  What if one of your students is sick?  What if a student’s family member is sick? Solano County has protocols in place for when illness pops up and they were using those protocols before we went out in March and they’ll continue to use those. They involve when to isolate entire classes or individuals and when and who to test. If you are ordered to quarantine but you are healthy, you may be teaching from home or coordinating with a substitute and running your class from home.  If you are doing this, you won’t be charged Personal Leave.  There are a lot of possible scenarios that aren’t covered here and we are still talking to the district and we will be dealing with those as they come up.

Workers’ comp. – Since you are a school district employee, if you get Covid it is assumed that you got sick at work and worker’s comp. automatically kicks in.  You won’t have to use your Personal Leave and you’ll continue to be paid while you are sick. 

Prep. Time – We will be talking with the district about how teacher prep. time will be used and if the unit members will be required to be on campus.  I believe that contact with staff should be limited and flexibility for teachers with their own children should be a priority.

I will be resending the link to this document every time we update it with more information and pointing out information we’ve clarified.  I know this doesn’t answer all your questions.  If you have any more questions please email me or email your Executive Board members (You can see them listed on the VTA website).  I have received a lot of emails recently and I know I have missed some.  If I haven’t returned your email, I’m sorry.  Please email me again and I’ll do my best to respond.

Please take care of yourself and your family.
Todd Blanset
VTA President

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