GUSD, Teachers in Accord on Virus Precautions

First published in the Sept. 25 print issue of the Glendale News Press.

The Glendale Unified School District and the union representing its teachers agreed this week to a series of policies and protocols codifying COVID-19-related safety measures that will last for the remainder of the school year.
Meanwhile, the district and the Glendale Teachers Association continued to discuss what is expected to be an agreement addressing the effects that quarantining has on classroom instruction.
The understanding reached this week, in short, has the district aligning with applicable guidelines from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. It does not address other related issues, such as instructional policy in the event of student quarantines, nor does it impose any new vaccination mandates.
In prior agreements, the district already imposed vaccination mandates for its teachers and classified employees, echoing decisions made by other large districts such as those in Los Angeles and Burbank. Higher education networks like the University of California and California State University have imposed mandates to access campus facilities, as has Glendale Community College.
Approved face masks will continue to be required indoors at all times and outdoors when physical distancing proves challenging — such as during morning drop-offs or school dismissals. Though it won’t be enforced outdoors in more typical circumstances, when distancing is feasible, mask-wearing will continue to be encouraged.
The district also has agreed to ensure that all of its students have opted in or out of weekly COVID-19 screening, regardless of their vaccination status. Unvaccinated employees are required to test weekly and must show proof of full vaccination by Nov. 1. Parents and other visitors to school campuses must either prove they are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus or obtain a negative coronavirus test result within 48 hours of the visit.
Teachers who need to quarantine after a COVID-19 exposure or care for a quarantining family member have been able to use the COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Bank, which makes up to 80 hours of paid leave available to California teachers for quarantine-related reasons. If Sacramento lawmakers do not extend funding for this pool, GUSD will add seven extra paid sick leave days for its teachers.
The full memorandum is available on the GTA’s website at glendaleteachers.org.
The agreement will remain in place through June 14, and the parties have agreed that they will meet and discuss adjusting any parameters when the county public health department makes any guideline changes that affect this agreement.
As of the News-Press’ deadline on Friday, the GUSD had recorded 152 cases of COVID-19 among its students since the start of the school year, including 19 who had been diagnosed within the prior 10 days. Similarly, 10 teachers had caught the disease this school year, with just one diagnosed within the past 10 days. Every school site has had at least one student catch the disease, although the district has identified just two confirmed instances of on-site transmission, both at Mountain View Elementary School.
According to the public health department, 54.9% of Glendale children ages 12-17 have had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while virtually all 12-17-year-olds in La Crescenta-Montrose have gotten at least one dose. Pfizer, which produces a two-dose vaccine, has reported that it expects to receive emergency use approval to administer vaccines to children ages 5-11 soon.