Susan Solomon, president of the United Educators of San Francisco, was part of negotiations for the fall crisis learning agreement. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Fall learning agreement approved by teachers, school board

Deal with district gives parents and teachers clear parameters for online learning this fall

The Board of Education on Tuesday followed public school educators by approving an agreement with the district on how to conduct virtual learning one week before classes begin.

About 91 percent of United Educators of San Francisco members voted to ratify the long-awaited memorandum of understanding on fall virtual teaching on Monday while the Board of Education unanimously approved it on Tuesday, the union said.

The agreement between UESF and the San Francisco Unified School District is a key element that will enable educators to plan class formats, parents to plan schedules for work or for siblings, and students to have a sense of what their new day-to-day learning will be like.

“Many educators never stopped working over the summer break. We were attending conferences, doing professional development, hosting dozens of town halls for educators and families, rethinking curriculum, and demanding more resources from the city, state and federal government to help figure out how to improve crisis learning for this upcoming school year,” said UESF President Susan Solomon. “This distance learning MOU will help guide educators, students and parents as we continue with distance learning during this crisis.”

After the tentative agreement was reached Thursday, voting began Friday and ended Monday evening.

California now mandates a minimum of 180 daily minutes for transitional kindergartners, kindergartners and those in continuation high school, 230 daily minutes for first through third grades, and 240 daily minutes for fourth through 12th graders.

Under the MOU, students will have daily, regularly scheduled live interaction, though alternative plans could be negotiated for those who need it.

Certificated staff, including librarians and nurses, will spend at least two hours a day on live instruction that includes the whole class, a small group, and one-to-one instruction as part of their normal contracted seven-hour workday.

Asynchronous learning could be through recorded lessons — with consent from the teacher, student’s caregiver, or students that are legal adults — or assignments for students to complete on their own.

Teachers must share their weekly schedules and planned subject matter with the district while regularly communicating with parents. Staff is also entitled to 10 days of sick leave under federal coronavirus law.

Support will be provided to students who are English learners, in foster care, experiencing homelessness, who are deemed to have exceptional needs, and those needing mental health care.

State law also requires a new individualized education plan for special education students to be developed. Special education teachers will have weekly, predictable office hours for support and professional development. A task force with UESF members and SFUSD administrators will add recommendations to solve backlogged special education assessments by Aug. 21.

SFUSD must develop procedures to reengage students that miss 60 percent of instructional days in a week, offering health and social services if needed.

“Educators are committed to meeting the needs of our community both in and out of the classroom,” said fifth-grade teacher Frank Lara in a statement. “This MOU is an important first step and we are committed to continuing to organize with our families to ensure everyone has access to basic necessities as well as a quality education.”

The crisis learning MOU does not include any agreements around in-person instruction. Another MOU regarding in-person teaching will be negotiated next, as the district plans to eventually phase in students’ return for a hybrid model.

Agreements in the MOU were needed for the district to disperse its crisis learning guide to school sites, where staff members have begun to get back in the swing of things. The Board of Education approved a fall learning plan in late July but it was unable to offer a detailed picture of what day-to-day operations would look like without a labor contract.

“We are unified in our commitment to each and every student having the best possible learning experience while learning from a distance,” said Superintendent Vincent Matthews on Thursday after the agreement was reached. “We heard from parents and students that they wanted more connection with their peers and teachers than was possible last spring. We are listening and share a commitment to making distance learning better this fall.”

This article has been updated to reflect the Board of Education vote on Tuesday.

imojadad@sfexaminer.com

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