Oakland Unified reaches compromise with teacher’s union in distance learning deal

Courtesy of Preston Thomas/Oakland UnifiedA mother picks up a Chromebook for her child, who is a student at Rudsdale Newcomer High in Oakland Unified, for distance learning.Courtesy of Preston Thomas/Oakland UnifiedA mother picks up a Chromebook for her child, who is a student at Rudsdale Newcomer High in Oakland Unified, for distance learning.Oakland Unified and its teachers have reached a tentative deal that sets aside at least an hour a day for live instruction, but also allows for flexibility and stresses small group instruction as much as possible.
Although school started last Monday in the district, the district and Oakland Education Association teachers’ union didn’t come to the agreement until Wednesday and don’t expect to ratify it until after union members vote on it by the end of the day Wednesday, Aug. 19. The agreement will guide distance learning through Dec. 30.
A joint release said the agreement allows for the district and its teachers to “ramp up the rigorous instruction our students need and deserve.”
Depending on grade level, students will receive between 60 minutes and 150 minutes of live instruction each day, along with at least 100 minutes to 215 minutes of pre-recorded or other instruction that is not presented live. To allow teachers to break classes into small groups, substitute teachers can be assigned to help reduce the overall class size.
Teachers and other union members – including counselors, psychologists, social workers and nurses – will also be given “flex time” to use for a variety of tasks, with instruction expected to take place between 9 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. During the first two weeks of school, teachers have more time for planning time, while the district provides students and their families with online training in topics such as distance learning, health and technology use. Teachers will be given additional time to plan for online courses each Wednesday through Sept. 23.
Since technology is critical to the success of distance learning, the district will provide both students and teachers the computers they need. Students will also receive Wi-Fi access and teachers can use their classrooms if necessary, while adhering to physical distancing and other safety precautions.
Families will receive weekly updates related to learning goals and student progress, and teachers will provide weekly office hours. Translation services will be provided for students and families who do not speak English, along with other resources in multiple languages.
Starting in September, both sides will create a problem-solving task force expected to resolve “issues related to the implementation of the distance learning program and make recommendations for improvement,” according to the agreement.
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