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Independent Voice

DUSD Students to Start Tuesday, August 25

Aug 19, 2020 12:00AM ● By By Debra Dingman

Sisters Jordan and Meadow Myers each have created their school workspaces for this year's 4th grade classes with a little help from Mom, Jamie Myers, who is also a music teacher. Photo by Debra Dingman

Teachers, District Reach Compromise

DIXON, CA (MPG) - All Dixon Unified School District students will start school on Tuesday, August 25, according to the agreement reached through negotiations between the School Board and the Dixon Teacher's Association giving teachers every Monday to prepare lessons.

After DUSD delayed the start of school for local students by two weeks for additional teacher training, teachers are now feeling more ready to return to their classrooms to teach their students using ‘Distance Learning’. This is now a familiar school term referring to students on computers in their individual homes while the teachers use online platforms to provide instruction.

"We did reach a Memorandum of Understanding," said Dixon Teacher's Association Co-Vice President Eleanor Pracht-Smith about last week's negotiations where the DTA was seeking the option for teachers to teach from inside their homes. Three different car rallies were organized and numerous vehicles bearing signs concerned with teachers safety circled the District Office in downtown Dixon honking horns all the while. There have been several days of negotiations since. "There were results showing 75% [of teachers] supported the MOU," said Pracht-Smith.

"When you have negotiations, it's supposed to be a compromise where both parties do not get fully satisfied on either side but it was good negotiations," said School board President Luke Foster.

Both parties agreed there is a one month trial for all involved. Teachers will spend each Monday planning the week and they can do that from home and are not required to be in the class on that day. They are to be in their classrooms, however, the other four days a week.

"Last Thursday, we voted on ratification of the distance learning contract which will be in place until students return to in-classroom learning," Pracht-Smith said. There are applications for accommodations through the school district for teachers who are at risk or who have children at risk and need to stay home daily.

Teachers are supposed to be in their class on their respective campuses Tuesday through Friday unless they've applied for special accommodations if they are at risk or if they have small children and don't want to put their young children at risk.

"If they aren't eligible for accommodations through the employer, some colleagues will have to make some tough decisions," Pracht-Smith said.

Most counties are following the recommendations of the governor and the CDC but there are variations in interpretations of those safety guidelines. The Yolo safety guidelines (Woodland,) for example are much stricter than Solano Counties and the public school districts have to make decisions based on the public health officer's guidelines.

"They have done a better job in the last two weeks preparing teachers and [the time] has allowed for teachers to do more training," she said. "Has it been comprehensive? No. But, I think more teachers are feeling more ready to do distance learning."

The plan is for the first month only. Then, teachers will have an option to switch to go into their classrooms or to teach from home because "issues would be worked out by then," explained Foster. If parents complain about a teacher's performance, there will be only one warning and the teachers readily agreed to this because Foster felt, it is, after all, both parties wanting the best education for the students.

"Or, if the virus situation changes, that will be a whole new situation," said Foster.