LAUSD’s teachers are scheduled to go out on strike on Monday, January 14, and unless the teachers’ union and LAUSD reach a deal before then, district families will be faced with some big changes as the new week dawns. (And the predictions are that if and when the strike happens, it could be a rather lengthy one.)
So what does this mean for the schools, students and their families? Will schools still be open? Are kids required to attend? How will that work if there are no teachers? What should I do with my kids if I keep them home? Let’s start at the top…
Can My Kids Go to School During the Strike?
Here is what we know so far:
- Schools will be open during the strike, with regular hours (including Beyond the Bell after school programs), transportation and lunch service.
- Students are officially required to attend. As during normal school operations, attendance will be taken, and schools will be docked funding for each day missed by each child. (Parents will also receive all the usual notices of absences.) Unofficially, however, we’ve heard that most schools won’t otherwise penalize students who don’t attend (for example, those culminating or graduating this year won’t be kept from their year-end activities based on absences during the strike – but it’s best to verify that with your individual school, if your child is in that situation).
- Schools will be staffed by their own administrators and support staff, along with some additional District personnel and perhaps some employees the District hired just to help during the strike. Also, LAUSD is easing volunteer requirements during the strike, to make it easier for parents to help out.
- Normal classes will likely not be held, but students will be separated into groups for instruction in specific areas of study. The groups will cover Math, English, PE, Social Studies/Electives, and the student groups will rotate through those instructional areas over the course of the school day. Math and English content will be provided electronically, on laptops and iPads.
Here’s a message we’ve seen posted to parents by at least a couple of different schools. We’ve removed the name of the specific school that posted this particular version, but it lines up with what we’ve been hearing from several local schools:
In the event that there is a strike, all LAUSD schools will be open and operating. [Our school’s] start and dismissal times will remain the same. However, the periods will be modified and the students will rotate through 4 periods each day. Students will be grouped by their grade. Each group will be supervised by one of [our school’s] administrators with the assistance of [our school’s] support staff and the support staff from the District. Students will rotate each day through English, Math, PE (movies on a rainy days), and an elective where they will be watching and discussing science, history and current events through Ted Talks, documentaries, and other educational materials. Although nothing can replace the guided instruction of their fabulous teachers, we will provide a modified curriculum and keep them learning. For English and math, students will be utilizing IPads or Chromebooks to learn new concepts and review skills through an online educational program, Edgenuity, which our high schools have been using for several years. Students will also have nutrition and lunch, and the Breakfast in the Classroom program will continue. Beyond the Bell after school services will remain open.
Our priority is to ensure the safety of our students. Central Office employees will be assigned to our campus to help ensure the safety and well-being of our students and staff, and we encourage you to send your child to school. Transportation and meal service will be provided as usual. If a student is not attending school, the same attendance rules apply. Please send a note with your child for each day that he/she may be absent. Absences for the work stoppage are considered unexcused absences. You will receive the daily phone calls and the letters, which are generated automatically.
Starting January 10, 2019, LAUSD has set up a Hotline for Parents for you to utilize for your questions or concerns. The number is (213) 443-1300. Our offices will remain open. However, please know that all personnel will be focused on assisting with our students’ needs and well-being. Therefore, please be patient with us as our response time may be delayed.
Also for a bit more information, here’s a good “Strike Primer” from the LAist news blog: https://laist.com/2019/01/08/lausd_teachers_strike_guide_for_parents.php
Should My Kids Go to School During the Strike?
Now that’s a trickier question…as is the issue of whether attendance or absence helps or hinders the striking teachers.
There are several schools of thought on this. One says that if you support the teachers, keep your kids home…or even join the teachers on your local picket line, and don’t cross it for any reason. On the other hand, if you don’t support the strike, sending your kids to school and even stepping in yourself to volunteer to support the District’s operational efforts would probably be the thing to do. And, of course, some parents whose work and financial situations require their kids to be in school may not have a choice – their kids need to go to school, no matter what, for as long as possible, because there are no other safe options for them during weekday work hours. Finally, however, we’ve also heard some parents musing that if enough students do attend during the strike, it could overwhelm the District’s limited operational resources and thus help force the District back to the bargaining table sooner, and thus end the strike sooner, than if many kids stay home and all goes smoothly with the alternate operations plan. So there are no hard and fast answers here – each family will need to consider the issues involved, and make the decisions that make the most sense to them.
What Can We Do if Kids Don’t Go to School?
If you do send your kids to school during the strike, not much will change (at least in terms of daily schedules). But if you choose to keep them home, what can they do with the extra time?
Well, at least one institution – the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (which includes the Natural History Museum, the La Brea Tar Pits, and the William S. Hart Museum, will be offering free admission to LAUSD students and their chaperones from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays starting January 10, and continuing until the end of the strike. In addition, students and chaperones will have access to grade-appropriate self-guided activities and lesson plans at each museum. There will also be free programming on Friday, January 11 at the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum and – if teachers are still on strike – at the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park on Tuesday, February 12.
Also, if the strike stretches on until January 24, the date of LA Metro‘s next Board meeting, the Board will vote on a proposal to provide free public transportation to students for the remainder of the strike. According to a report in The Daily News, “Students would be able to ride free from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. each strike day under the directive from Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington, in consultation with L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair Sheila Kuehl.”
Finally, we’ve heard that a few of our local parks may be planning summer-style day camps (or “strike camps”) on weekdays during the strike, to give parents and students at least one more good option for strike days (no details yet about specific times or places, but we’ll pass them on if/when we hear them). Of course, our local libraries are also always a good bet for books and activities. And we’ve heard from a few parents who are putting together their own strike-day groups and activities for kids, so check with your friends and neighbors for other opportunities…or organize something yourself, if you’re in a position to do so.
[Note: This story was updated after publication to reflect the newly announced strike date of Monday, January 14. The original strike date, which was still set when this story was first published, was Thursday, January 10.]