Frustrated parents of children in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) public school system are organizing a strike to protest the teachers’ unions’ refusal to return to work.
Parents who join the strike say that they will refuse to allow children to participate in remote classes, starting Feb. 22, and will picket in front of schools instead.
Children across the district have been participating in classes via Zoom for a year.
The strike was reported by Bill Melugin of local Fox affiliate KTTV:
NEW: LAUSD parents who are fed up with UTLA’s demands & refusals to reopen schools are organizing a blackout campaign. Beginning Monday, they will not sign on to Zoom courses, and will instead walk with their children to the front of their schools to protest w/ signs. @FOXLA pic.twitter.com/ftX9dA63gf
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) February 18, 2021
Earlier this week, Los Angeles County public health authorities announced that coronavirus cases had dropped enough to allow elementary schools to reopen. As KTLA 5 reported:
For five consecutive days, the county has seen an adjusted case rate of less than 25 new cases per 400,000 people — meeting California requirement to allow in-person classes for students in grades K-6 for the first time, officials said. Older students will be allowed to return to campus once the county reduces case rates even further.
Students in other nearby districts have already begun returning to school.
However, teachers’ unions in Los Angeles, as in some other big cities nationwide, remain opposed to returning to work.
In a statement Tuesday, the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), the main union for local schools, cautioned that reopening “unsafely” would “create more instability for students.” It added:
Educators cannot support a broad physical reopening of schools until school staff required to work in person have access to vaccinations, LA County is out of the purple tier and reaches much lower community transmission rate along with strict multi-layered mitigation strategies in place — such as COVID testing, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation/quarantine procedures.
It’s disheartening that once again elected officials are discounting the families that LAUSD serves, who are overwhelmingly low-income families of color. Black, Latino, and Pacific Islander residents are dying at disproportionately higher rates and getting vaccinated at disproportionately lower rates. The COVID death rate among Latino residents in L.A. County remains triple the rate for white residents even as the recent surge recedes.
Critics of the unions counter that minority communities are suffering most from school closures, which have led to higher absenteeism and crime rates in those parts of L.A.
Moreover, school board officials insist that reopening is safe, as KTLA noted:
LAUSD has enhanced sanitization measures and followed other guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, and the district has even established a comprehensive school-based COVID-19 testing program, according to LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner.
“Los Angeles Unified has done more than any school district in the nation to prepare schools to welcome students back to in-person classes,” the superintendent said Feb. 8.
President Joe Biden promised to have schools open by the end of his first 100 days in office, a pledge that the White House has since downgraded to having schools open one day per week by that deadline. Unions have insisted on more vaccination for teachers, and more “resources” to help districts prevent the spread of coronavirus on school premises.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told NPR earlier this month that teachers feel safer at home.
Though Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Rochelle Walensky had previously said that vaccination was not necessary for schools to reopen safely, the CDC’s new guidelines were allegedly made particularly stringent after consultation with the unions. Walensky said that the new guidelines had been “free from political meddling.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is How Not to Be a Sh!thole Country: Lessons from South Africa. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.