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Coronavirus update: State officials outline path forward for schools; labor-management framework among new tools

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s April 1 briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic furthered the state’s recommendation that schools not reopen for in-person instruction this academic year and offered important updates and guidance on how local educational agencies should move forward in serving students. Among the highlights for school board members was the announcement of a framework document for labor-management collaboration.

Newsom opened his education remarks by reiterating the fact that, while not a directive, state officials are advising LEAs to proceed as though students will not be returning to campus this school year. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond expressed this view
in a statement released Tuesday, offering sought-after clarity and direction for decisions to close schools while still respecting local control.

“It seems self-evident that we should not prepare to bring our children back into the school setting,” Gov. Newsom said in explaining the state’s disease modeling and case estimates. He later addressed the millions of parents who were anxiously wondering if schools would indeed be closed for the remainder of the school year. “You may have thought that was the case, but you were waiting for clarity, which I hope we are providing,” Gov. Newsom said.

Labor-management framework offers clarity, understanding

The sudden change of the public education landscape has brought with it rapidly evolving relations between LEAs and their bargaining units. In some instances, drawn-out negotiations and efforts to implement memoranda of understanding have delayed efforts to educate and otherwise serve students at a time when they may need it most. “This was a stubborn issue that manifested itself very differently in the 1,000-plus school districts throughout the state,” Gov. Newsom said.

In response, management organizations, including CSBA, the Association of California School Administrators, the California Association of School Business Officers and the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association collaborated with labor organizations, Thurmond and representatives from the Governor’s office to produce the “Framework for Labor-Management Collaboration: Serving Local Communities During the COVID-19 Emergency.”