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December 8, 2020 Negotiations Update

Negotiations Update: December 8, 2020

Phase 2 Negotiations Have Begun 

BFT and BUSD met twice for several hours during the week of November 30, 2020. BUSD brought proposals for Phase 2 Hybrid Model reopenings at the elementary and preschool levels.  No agreements have been reached. BFT plans to survey members about these proposals as soon as we have enough information to do so.


Thresholds for Reopening to In Person Instruction 

California is using a color coded tiers system to guide what activities are permitted. The system is generally based on the rate of infections and availability of testing in each county. Currently Alameda County is in the Purple Tier, indicating that the virus is widespread in our community. Schools are not allowed to open in this tier. 

In order to move into the Red Tier, the metrics of that tier need to be achieved and maintained for two weeks. After two more weeks of stable or declining cases, public health departments may give permission for elementary schools to reopen at limited capacity if they have met an extensive list of health and safety precautions. 

When counties have met the requirements for the Orange Tier, public health departments may give permission for secondary schools to reopen, also at limited capacity and providing they have met health and safety precautions. 

School Boards may choose to use stricter guidelines for reopening than the city or county health departments but they cannot be more lenient. 
The forthcoming BFT survey will ask members about thresholds for reopening schools to in person instruction, and for staying open if COVID cases rise again. Our proposal will be based on members’ views. 


Student Testing

BFT has stated publicly for many months that a plan for COVID testing of students is an essential part of a safe reopening of schools. The issue of bargaining for student testing was explicitly addressed in our Health and Safety MOU signed on October 21. We acknowledge that a lack of resources may make this a difficult demand to meet. Our federal and state governments have failed to provide adequate resources or guidelines for many aspects of school reopenings, including widely available testing for students. Schools have simply not been a high enough priority before or during the pandemic.  


Elementary Hybrid Model

BUSD has proposed a hybrid model that maintains most elements of Distance Learning in the morning and adds in person time with smaller stable cohorts of students who choose to participate in the afternoon. This model allows classes to stay intact and makes it easier to move in and out of fully remote learning if classes need to quarantine or community spread forces school closures. BUSD has not yet been able to answer questions about staffing the in person portion of classes whose teacher had been granted medical accommodations to continue working remotely.  

BUSD considered full day hybrid models, but logistical, scheduling and staffing issues were particularly challenging. 

The BUSD proposal includes approximately two hours of in person teaching in the afternoon. Content will be at the discretion of the teacher. The proposal asks teachers to supervise during arrival and dismissal procedures, as well as while students eat a “grab and go” lunch in their classrooms. Site based TSA’s will be asked to perform screening procedures during students’ arrival. Under the BUSD proposal release/enrichment teachers will stay fully remote but will shift their work hours to slightly later in the day. 

Special Ed case managers will be allowed to pull out small groups of children from a single cohort, but may not mix children from different cohorts. They will not be able to do any “push in” work in classrooms. They may do 1:1 support or assessments in person. Mild/Moderate and Moderate/Severe case managers will join the BFT Negotiations team to discuss Sped issues in greater detail on December 11. 

BUSD has also proposed that elementary teachers provide in person support for up to six students per day in their classrooms while simultaneously teaching their morning Distance Learning sessions. BFT is seeking clarification about how this could actually work given the schedule proposed. 

BFT has been adamant that teachers cannot do two jobs at once. Our counterproposal regarding the schedule will be based on BFT survey results about how to balance Distance Learning and in-person responsibilities. 


ECE Hybrid Model

Two ECE teachers joined the Negotiations Team to hear the BUSD ECE proposal. BUSD proposed that preschools open for full and half day programs with classes of no more than 10 students, while maintaining some Distance Learning for those families who choose it. The full day proposal is for five days per week and lasting 5.5 hours per day. The half day program would include three days per week and last 3 hours per day. Teachers would engage in Distance Learning on the other two days. There would be three fully Distance Learning teachers, to be assigned based on health conditions and then seniority. 

ECE teachers are particularly concerned about safety issues. Mask wearing and social distancing are harder to maintain with young children. Helping children with eating, napping and toileting is a large part of their day. They have significantly greater cleaning responsibilities than other levels. The BFT Negotiations Team will meet with preschool teachers on Monday, December 14 to hear their specific recommendations for what to include in a BFT counter proposal.


Timing Issues

As of this writing, the School Board has not taken any action to change the January 13 and 20 target dates for preschool and elementary reopenings. However, given the current stay at home orders and continuing surge in COVID cases, it is highly unlikely that city and county health departments will grant permission for schools to reopen by those dates. 

In any event, it is necessary for BFT and BUSD to reach an agreement on the elements mentioned above before returning to in-person instruction. BFT will continue to keep our members informed and seek member input as we continue negotiating with BUSD. Look for a BFT survey very soon. 


For information or to offer comments please contact BFT Vice President Janine Waddell at

This Negotiations Update was prepared by BFT Treasurer Cynthia Allman and edited by the BFT Negotiations Team.