COMPTON — The Compton Unified School District is charting its own path while planning to safely reopen the district’s 36 campuses for the 2020-21 school year.
But the district is at odds with its teacher’s union on how to reopen the schools in compliance with social distancing standards.
The school board voted 5-1 Aug. 11 to implement COVID-19 protocols established by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
“I am pleased the Compton Unified School District Board of Trustees voted to approve a 59-page comprehensive return to work protocol, which includes best practices for safety, including physical distancing, cleaning and monitoring,” said school board President Micah Ali. “Equally, I am grateful to our many employees, who served on the committee that developed the protocols.”
School board member Mae Thomas was the lone dissenting vote and couldn’t be reached for comment at press time.
The district will re-hire roughly 45 custodial staff members to ensure the schools and classrooms are cleaned according to the latest county and state guidelines.
“We are seeking to ensure the safety of our nearly 1,000 members who serve Compton students,” said Agbo-Ola Dada who is the president of the Compton Education Association, the union representing about 1,000 teachers. “Out of 1,000 members, we have one who tested positive for COVID-19 and want to keep it that way.”
The union is against the current plan to reopen school with teachers in the classroom while students are distance learning at home. The union held a protest car caravan Aug. 11 to bring attention to issues they interpret the district at balking at.
“We need classrooms and bathrooms cleaned regularly and cleaning materials provided to us,” Dada said.
The Compton Unified School District reopening protocols require all persons entering a school campus to have their temperature taken and those with a temperature higher than normal will not be permitted on campus.
To address cleaning of areas frequented by staff and faculty, the district’s reopening protocol states a cleaning and disinfecting schedule has been created that will take place at least three times per day.
Break rooms will be cleaned every two hours and restrooms will be cleaned every hour. Classrooms, laboratories and kitchens will be cleaned daily. Hand sanitizer stations will be provided at strategic locations throughout the school for the use of all persons on campus.
“Having teachers conduct distance learning instruction virtually from a bright classroom outfitted with all the materials, supplies and technology possible ensures that students will in fact receive live instruction every day and helps offer a semblance of normalcy that they have lacked since the pandemic hit,” Ali said. “We are taking every precaution to ensure teachers are safe, including sanitizing classrooms, conducting wellness screenings of all staff and providing [personal protective equipment] at all school sites.”
According to Ali, having teachers teach from their own classrooms enables them to receive real-time tech support, high quality WiFi and reliable internet access.
“To troubleshoot hundreds of teachers teaching from homes from across Southern California is impossible to do and ensure that students do not have lost instructional days due to a teacher’s home WiFi or internet access going down,” Ali said. “At the end of the day, many of our students are dealing with the stress and social isolation of the pandemic, plus the realities of poverty, homelessness, social issues and many with special needs. The least that we can do is provide a sense of normalcy and provide them with live, engaging, real time and consistent instruction virtually.”
Describing education as an equity issue is something the district plans on addressing with what’s best for students academically while maintaining the health and well being of teachers.
The board also heard a revised timeline related to the construction of Compton High School at the Aug. 11 meeting. Construction was scheduled to commence in January 2020 but will be pushed back to March 2021.