Sacramento City Unified School District administrators say they’re moving forward with a COVID-19 distance learning plan on Tuesday, Sept. 8, and have filed a cease-and-desist order to compel cooperation from the district’s 2,500 teachers.
But the Sacramento City Teachers Association, the district's teachers union, wasn't clear Monday about whether or not its members would adhere to the new plan.
The two sides announced an impasse last week over the COVID-19 distance learning plan, and started the district's 42,000 students on a conditional learning plan last Thursday.
But going forward, school district officials say parents can expect their children to start the school day at the same time they did last year, and follow class period times the school district has laid out on its website here.
“None of us right now need to be dealing with additional anxieties and confusion and questions about what our school year is going to look like,” Sacramento City Schools’ Superintendent Jorge Aguilar said during a press briefing on Monday. ”We need to focus on our students.”
Under SCUSD’s new distance learning plan, effective under COVID-19 precautions until further notice, teachers will be required to offer a minimum number of both synchronous and asynchronous teaching minutes which varies by grade level. Instruction will be recorded so students can access lessons at different times.
The district says the new plan has minimum requirements for instruction that are based on state law, but not all of the instruction has to be given at once. Instruction guidelines are as follows:
- TK-Kindergarten: 180 total minutes of learning each day, 140 synchronous, 40 asynchronous
- 1st-3rd grade: 230 total minutes of learning each day, 185 synchronous 45 asynchronous
- 4th -6th grade: 240 total minutes of learning each day, 190 synchronous 50 asynchronous
- 7th-8th grade: 240 total minutes of learning each day, 180 synchronous 60 synchronous
- 9th-12th grade: 240 total minutes of learning each day, 180 synchronous 60 synchronous
The teachers union spoke out against the district’s cease-and-desist order Monday, arguing that their professional teaching judgement is not being respected, and that they believe in “quality not quantity” when it comes to educating their students.
“They essentially want us to be robots,” said Preston Jackson, a teacher at California Middle School for 16 years. He said the school district expects teachers to “plug [students] into a system that may or may not work for them.”
Similarly, Luther Burbank High School teacher Shana Just said she didn’t agree with the district’s “one size fits all” approach.
Meanwhile, parents of kids in Sacramento schools expressed frustration about the lack of clarity and information they’ve received about how their kids will be learning this fall.
“I don’t know what Tuesday’s going to look like,” said Kristin Goree, the mother of a third grader at Hubert Bancroft Elementary. Goree said her child, who has ADHD and anxiety, received one hour of instruction on both Thursday and Friday last week, along with a few handouts.
Goree says she’s received messages from district officials, the school principal, as well as teachers, but they are not consistent about how much learning, or the type of learning, her daughter will be receiving.
“I wish the infighting could stop,“ she said about the ongoing disputes between the school district and the union. “The people that are going to lose out in the end are the kids”
SCTA President David Fisher said exact bell schedules have been decided by individual school principals and staff, and that they plan on “teaching our hearts out using the same professional judgement and flexibility we use in a brick and mortar settings.”
School district officials say they will be monitoring the implementation of the new plan this week, and they expect many teachers to adhere to the new rules, even though the union has not agreed to it.
“My sincere hope is that we will not see the kind of variation and alternate schedules that SCTA has indicated to its teachers that they can outline on their own,” said Superintendent Aguilar.
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