District reaches tentative agreement with teachers association

ATASCADERO — Atascadero Unified School District moved closer to having in-person instruction for its special needs students after a tentative agreement between the District and the Atascadero District Teachers Association was reached.

The announcement was made during the Atascadero Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night. Students with disabilities and special needs can participate in in-person instruction per the statement made Aug. 14 by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The Board meeting opened with ADTA President Christine Williams addressing the Board and the public on the work they have done in collaboration with the District to make this possible. She also noted the difficulties and concerns that have come with the COVID-19 pandemic for teachers.

“We now have two COVID-19 2020-2021 MOU’s [Memorandum of Understanding],” Williams said. “One passed, and one pending that each took tons of work and countless hours of collaboration. It is never easy to find a solution that works for everyone. In fact, it’s impossible. But we are all trying to do what is best for all students right now, and it will take time to get this right.”

Safety is a significant concern, Williams reiterated, and is something they need to get right.

“We need to make sure that our students and staff have the safest learning and working environment,” she said. “We have been working to make sure that happens even if it isn’t happening fast enough or in the manner that everyone prefers. Since the spring, the association [ADTA] has been working with the District to develop plans, redeveloping plans, and re-redeveloping plans.”

Following Williams, Butler addressed the Board in his report stating that the MOU will go through a ratification process with the teachers before being brought to the Board formally on Sept. 15, the next scheduled School Board meeting.

“Based on this new guidance, along with what we anticipate with the Board-approved MOU with our employee association of teachers along with a good partnership with CSEA,” Butler said, “it is going to tentatively allow us to aim to provide in-person services for our highest-need students beginning on Sept. 16.”

Butler made it clear that this is not the elementary waiver or the blended model but something different entirely that may help the District when it is allowed to provide in-person instruction to all students.

“This is a phasing-in approach where we will bring students back one at a time ideally in small groups,” Butler said. “Ideally, this is going to go well, and we can convince ourselves and our community that we can keep students and staff safe with these in-person services and then gradually build out as we look at the bigger picture about reopening.”

During the meeting, Butler also said that there would be a Superintendent’s parental advisory committee meeting on reopening on Sept. 9. Another survey for parents will follow it. The survey will include questions on how students are doing socially, emotionally and behaviorally, what kind of support families need regarding technology, and various questions related to reopening.

On top of a survey for parents, the District will send another survey to District employees, which will help AUSD gauge its next steps.

Getting through this together, Atascadero