The Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) Board of Education voted unanimously on Aug. 4 to approve the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between BHUSD and the Beverly Hills Education Association (BHEA). The special board meeting took place on Tuesday, one day after the BHEA Representative Council voted, also unanimously, to approve the MOU. The highly anticipated tentative agreement was reached last weekend.
“I thank you for your leadership, your administrative team and the negotiations team on both sides,” said Board President Isabel Hacker at the Aug. 4 meeting. “It was a lot of work; it was many, many, hours of labor and good work. Thank you for your leadership and for your commitment to this district as always. I’m humbled by the result of this.”
The agreement provides that teachers are not required to deliver instruction from a physical classroom. Rather, they can choose their preferred location, be it the classroom or their home. However, the District reserves the right to direct teachers who have opted to work remotely to return to a District worksite if they fail to deliver instruction effectively. Additionally, the District shall give a minimum of 10 days’ notice to teachers before transitioning to a different instructional model.
In the event that a staff member tests positive for COVID-19, the District will make provisions to support a leave. BHUSD will also clean and sanitize all necessary facilities and equipment in compliance with the L.A. County Department of Public Health Orders. The MOU includes an indemnification commitment, protecting teachers working remotely from claims made by parents for actions that are not within the control of staff.
“BHEA is very pleased with the MOU that was achieved between the teachers’ union and the district,” BHEA President Ethan Smith told the Courier. “We are especially pleased with the amical way in which both sides worked together to come to this agreement.” Smith added, “We are working in unprecedented times, but we are all doing everything possible to continue to deliver the outstanding education the students of our community deserve.”
In an Aug. 1 statement, BHUSD Superintendent Dr. Michael Bregy emphasized that the ultimate goal remains to return to the classroom safely.
“This MOU focuses on the change caused by COVID-19 from physical learning to distance education,” he said. “It is the intent of the District and Association to return to a traditional educational program as soon as is feasible consistent with applicable state and local directives issued in response to this pandemic. It is anticipated that the return to a traditional program may occur in phases and may include remote and hybrid instructional and support models.”
The first day of school for students in the BHUSD has changed from Aug. 17 to Aug. 18. In order to provide teachers with time to plan, prepare, and adjust to changes for the 2020-2021 school year, Aug. 17 will be spent making sure educators have all the necessary resources and technology needed. To make up the instructional day, Jan. 27, 2021 will be a school day instead of professional development.
The school year will begin with distance learning through the Independent Learning Center (ILC) and Live@BHUSD. The new agreement provides that students will receive daily interaction in real-time from their teachers, mimicking the brick-and-mortar classroom experience. Live and synchronous instruction, occurring when students and teachers meet in the same virtual space at the same time, will use one or more of the audiovisual remote instructional platforms provided by the District. Only students, teachers, and administrators have the right to be present while virtual instruction is taking place.
“This is a huge milestone for our community and I want to take a moment to thank the Beverly Hills Education Association bargaining team and BHEA Executive Board and our district bargaining team, including the District Leadership, California Teachers Association Regional UniServe Staff representative, Penny Sevoian, and Board President, Isabel Hacker, for their hours and hours of collaboration in creating an MOU with the common goal to achieve the highest quality outcome for our students in what can only be described as truly unprecedented circumstances,” said Bregy.