The Glendale Unified School District this week proposed beginning in-person instruction across its elementary schools starting with TK-2nd-grade students on Monday, March 29, and bringing 3rd-6th graders back the following week.
This proposal was part of a response to the Glendale Teachers Association made this week after the union made its counter-proposal to the district during negotiations. The district also asked for preschool and elementary teachers, Child Development and Child Care teachers and elementary specialists, nurses and counselors to report to their sites on Tuesday, March 23, and have five paid instructional work days to prepare their classrooms and engage in professional development.
This runs in counter to what the GTA had asked for at the meeting on Wednesday, which was for the teachers’ return to campuses begin only after those teachers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — that is, they have received both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines — and no earlier than April 19. The union also proposed that service providers, counselors and specialists would be mandated to return to school sites.
It was unclear when the two groups plan to come back to the table next, but time is ticking for GUSD officials aiming to resume limited in-person instruction after spring break.
County health officials in February paved the way for elementary schools to reopen for in-person instruction after daily new case rates of the coronavirus plummeted from the winter holiday surge and below the state guideline. Beforehand, individual schools could apply for waivers to bring students back, but only TK through 2nd-graders.
In Glendale, Horace Mann Elementary School reopened for some of those students on such a waiver in January briefly before the surge prompted voluntary suspension of the classes. Those classes resumed in February.
GUSD’s proposed instructional model, which was largely piloted at Mann Elementary, involved a hybrid system of the in-person teacher working with the in-person students while the lesson is presented remotely to those students staying at home. Groups of students would be divided for in-person attendance — two groups would alternate in-person and remote for two days per week, while everyone is remote on Wednesday for rooms to be deep cleaned.
GUSD is also asking for classroom teachers to supervise their rooms from 8-8:20 a.m. each morning so that students who check in and pass their daily health screening can go straight to their classrooms. The district is offering a one-time bonus to compensate for the added time.
The district’s proposal only asks for instruction to be concurrent but does not specify how other than to use professional judgment to determine what is necessary. One of the central demands from the GTA is that a second person handles the remote instruction portion.
Although the district has steadfastly maintained it will not require vaccinations for teachers to return to work, it is highly encouraging them and coordinated with area hospitals this week to provide vaccination appointments for the elementary teachers who wanted them. Those receiving the Pfizer doses have to wait three weeks for the second round, while the Moderna recipients wait four weeks.
The GTA is requesting a full-time nurse at each campus and for the stabilization of all cohorts to ensure there is minimal, if any, mixing of students at school sites that would enhance potential for coronavirus spread. Though the district is proposing lunch be eaten in classrooms, the GTA is pushing back on that, pointing out that indoor dining remains banned in the county.
To that end, the GTA is asking for no events requiring the removal of face masks in classrooms.
In terms of extra equipment, GUSD is pledging to provide all necessary personal protective equipment, “including CDC-recommended face masks, CDC-recommended transparent face masks, face shields, face shields with neck drapes, KN-95 masks, gloves, gowns, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes upon request.” The district is also planning to install heavy duty filters in classroom air conditioning units and to also provide standalone filtration devices in rooms.
The GTA is also requesting that each student be provided baskets of school supplies, including Chromebooks and headphones, to ensure equity across the board.