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LA Teachers Union Votes To Reject State's Plan To Return To In-Person Learning

We want to clarify an earlier report.  LA Unified teachers have voted to refuse to return to in-person teaching until certain safety conditions are met.  They did not vote to strike.  Teachers will continue with distance learning.  

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- Teachers say they are prepared to "refuse an unsafe work assignment" if the Los Angeles Unified school district tries to force a return to the classroom next month.

UTLA, the union representing LAUSD teachers, has maintained that three conditions must be met before its teachers can safely return to school: teachers must have the opportunity to be fully vaccinated, LA County must move into the red tier, and certain safety protocols need to be in place.

But some still don't believe they'll be ready to go back in April.

"Tons of our students have lost family members," said teacher Sandra Ruiz-Chau. "I know one of my freshmen has lost her father, her uncle, her grandma, and her aunt in the last six months."

"I don't know how clean it is. I don't know if they have the PPE. I don't know if they have extra staff to clean the classrooms, " Nancy Rattner, another LAUSD teacher, said. "Also, we don't know how many students will be in the classroom, because I am used to having 40 to 45 students in my class."

On Friday, the union — which represents the second-largest school district in the nation — voted to reject a plan by Gov. Gavin Newsom to return to in-person learning.

The UTLA ballot read: "A yes vote means you agree with the UTLA leadership...To resist a forced return to school sites until the 3 conditions...Have been met" and "A no vote means you are willing to physically return to your school under unsafe conditions..."

In an email to CBSLA, the UTLA stated: "The vote result means that members are prepared to refuse to [accept] an unsafe work assignment but will instead remain committed to distance-learning until the three safety criteria are met."

Renee Bailey, who has two children in LAUSD schools, has helped organize a "return to campus" protest next weekend in Watts.

"The way the questions are presented is almost like your best choice in this union is to vote with us and say yes," said Bailey. "It was the science that told us we need to go home and quarantine, but now the science is telling us we can go back in the classroom."

Bailey has a kindergarten daughter and a middle school son with special needs.

"There is a lot of regression that I am noticing," she said. "Increased self-harm. This morning, bed wetting- something he has never done before."

CBSLA's Kristine Lazar reached out to the district for comment, but there was no immediate response.

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