July 29, 2020
Dear OUSD Community,
As we approach the beginning of the 2020-21 school year on Monday, August 10, we want to update you on where we stand in negotiations with the Oakland Education Association (OEA), our teachers’ union, concerning the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and distance learning. We share this information during this remarkable time in which we can’t yet return to in-person instruction because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shelter in place orders and the recent orders from Governor Newsom requiring schools in counties on the state’s watch list to begin in distance learning. As Alameda County is currently on that list, the state confirmed what OUSD had already planned to do: begin the school year with distance learning for all OUSD students and staff. In-person instruction can resume only after the county meets the state’s criteria.
As we have said from early on in this time of COVID, our decision making process for starting school is driven by our grounding principles of science, safety, staff support and student learning. In this rapidly changing landscape, science will be our guide. The safety of our students, staff, and community is our next consideration. Increased support for our staff to learn new approaches to helping themselves and students through these challenges is also critical in our planning. Science, safety and staff support set the conditions for successful student learning. We must be creative in holding our students at the center of all that we do.
In order for us to release clear detailed plans to reopen schools to the Oakland community, we must first establish a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the labor unions associated with implementing the plan. OUSD is currently in negotiations with both classified (namely AFSCME, SEIU and UAOS) and certificated (UAOS representing principals, and OEA) labor partners. We are in our third week of negotiations with OEA, spending extensive time  on what a school day will actually look like in the distance learning format.
The state of California has released requirements in Senate Bill 98 (SB 98) that include 180 days of instruction for students and a minimum number of instructional minutes for all grade levels: 180 minutes (three hours) of instruction for TK and kindergarten students, 230 minutes (just under four hours) for 1st-3rd graders and for 4th-12th graders, a total of 240 minutes (four hours) of instruction. While the state provides these and other requirements, school districts have discretion to construct their educational programs to best meet the unique needs of their school communities. 
Daily Instructional Time for Students 
OUSD’s proposal includes more instructional time than the required state minimum that OEA has proposed. The District wants to ensure that we are prioritizing Oakland’s most vulnerable youth who need additional time with teachers and educational supports, while also providing a high quality rigorous distance learning program for all students. It’s important to note that the instruction time OUSD has proposed is still less than a normal in-person school day when it comes to total instruction time for most students. OUSD has proposed an extra 30 minutes of instruction time for a total of 210 minutes for TK & K, an extra 25 minutes or 255 minutes total for grades 1-3 and an extra 45 minutes or a total of 285 minutes for grades 4-12.
Daily Live Interaction with Teachers
Assembly Bill (AB) 77/SB 98 requires “daily live interaction” between students and certificated staff. One of the major topics of negotiation is how much instruction happens live or “synchronously” vs. “asynchronously”, meaning through modes like pre-recorded video instruction, on-line learning platforms without live teacher supervision and through paper assignments. A major difference between our proposals is the amount of time we believe teachers should be interacting live with their students. OUSD has proposed more synch time than OEA for all grades.
OEA Member Hours of Work
Another significant gap in proposals is the difference in length of the total workday. The District realizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted normal life and that familial and personal circumstances of employees may differ. Thus OUSD has agreed to “flex-time” outside of instruction and other direct services OEA members provide to students. However, the District is committed to ensuring a high quality learning program to Oakland’s youth, even under the current circumstances. This cannot be done without OEA members.
OEA has proposed to reduce their hours of work to a 300 minute (5 hour) duty day for all teachers and other certificated employees while their normal duty day is 375 minutes for elementary teachers (6 ¼ hours) and 390 minutes (6 ½ hours) for secondary teachers and other certificated staff. OEA’s latest proposal includes 1 hour and 30 minutes of “wellness time” for selfcare (i.e. mindfulness, physical activity) during the workday. OUSD proposes that teachers and other OEA members work their regularly contracted workday.
Prioritizing Equity 
While the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken us all in the most unexpected ways, our collective commitment to students, emphasizing the need to uplift our most vulnerable populations, is unwavering. In addition to the instructional minutes proposed above for all students, our proposal also includes 100 additional minutes of live interaction with teachers and other certificated staff for our students with the highest needs. This includes students with disabilities, African American and Latino students (as the District’s goal is to combat disproportionality) foster youth, newcomers, and students behind grade level (Tier 2 and Tier 3 supports). OUSD’s proposals are designed to prioritize services to students who need it the most with a number of investments in Special Education. The proposed Special Education teacher schedules emphasize the needs of our students with disabilities who have experienced skill regression, by providing a dedicated time for intensive, daily intervention. 

Preparing Staff and Students 
Both OEA and OUSD proposed additional preparation and training for teachers, nurses, psychologists and other student support roles. We’ve agreed to provide additional support for teachers through centrally provided training modules for students and families on safety and technology. In addition to the teacher planning and preparation time in the collective bargaining agreement, OUSD is proposing additional time (the first four Wednesdays of the school year) to prepare for distance learning. 
OEA has consistently proposed that teachers and other OEA members spend 30 minutes a day with students for the first two weeks of school, leaving the remainder of the day to allow for preparation and planning. We appreciate the recent movement by OEA reducing planning time to one week and increasing the time with students to 60 minutes a day, however we are still concerned about the impact on students. We will continue to work with OEA to reach a compromise to ensure that both students and OEA members are positioned for success as we launch the new year.
While OUSD and OEA have agreed that our District will begin instruction through distance learning on August 10, we are still working towards an agreement for what school should look like when we are able to return to even part-time in-person learning. Again, in this time of COVID, our decision making process for starting school is driven by our grounding principles of science, safety, staff support and student learning. We are prioritizing the details regarding safety so that when we are able to have in-person instruction, our processes for safeguarding our students, families and staff are clear. OUSD has designed updated protocols that follow the latest health and safety guidelines, ordered and acquired personal protective equipment so that we are well stocked and developed cleaning systems that prepare our school buildings to receive everyone safely.
Both OEA and OUSD’s bargaining teams are working hard to find common ground so that we reach an agreement that benefits all students, staff and families. We will provide further updates in the coming days, and will report to you as soon as possible after we reach a Memorandum of Understanding. We acknowledge this update may not provide all the information you were hoping for, but we feel it’s important to share with you the reasons why we have been unable to release clear details about our plans for returning to school.
About the Oakland Unified School District
In California’s most diverse city, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is dedicated to creating a learning environment where “Every Student Thrives!” More than half of our students speak a non-English language at home. And each of our 81 schools is staffed with talented individuals uniting around a common set of values: Students First, Equity, Excellence, Integrity, Cultural Responsiveness and Joy. We are committed to preparing all students for college, career and community success. 

To learn more about OUSD’s Full Service Community District focused on academic achievement while serving the whole child in safe schools, please visit OUSD.org and follow us @OUSDnews.

VISIT OUR WEBSITE | (510) 879-8200
Oakland Unified School District
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