SACRAMENTO Calif. — California teachers unions and state legislators are at odds over when students should return to the classroom after a Democratic bill was introduced that would force schools to reopen in the spring.

Toby Boyd, the President of the California Teachers Association, said he responds to hundreds of emails every week from concerned parents ever since the pandemic hit.

“We understand the importance of getting our students back into the classroom and having them there, but we have to do it safe and that’s our number one concern,” Boyd said.

What You Need To Know

  • California legislators proposed AB 10, a bill to reopen schools as early as March

  • Assemblymember Phil Ting said legislators are working with public health officials to open up schools safely

  • President of the CA Teachers Association, Toby Boyd, argued that before all classrooms reopen they must have PPE

  • Boyd and Ting are working together to come up with a compromise that keeps students and staff safe

Boyd has been teaching kindergarteners for the past 26 years and said his ultimate priority is his students' safety.

“I have to look out for all the students in this state, the 6.1 million students that we have in this state, and ensure that we are doing our best for them, for their families, and for their communities,” Boyd added.

This December, California legislators proposed Assembly Bill 10, a bill to reopen schools as early as March. However, Boyd believes this date is too soon to be letting children and staff back into the classroom.

“Look at the numbers that we have of infections, the ICU rates, the beds that are not available, the hospitalization, the deaths,” Boyd explained.

Assemblymember Phil Ting is one of the main authors of the bill and is also a parent himself. He says he understands the stress of distance learning that millions of families are facing across the state.

“I just got finished with my parent teacher conferences. The teachers are working extremely hard, but they definitely let us know as parents that they are not going to be able to get through all the material that they normally would in a year,” Ting said.

While Boyd agrees that in-person learning is the most effective form of teaching, he says right now he’s focused on his students’ health. He says educators also need time to come up with a game plan before sending anyone back into the classroom.

“We need to have guidelines that are going to be measurable and that if they are not happening, there needs to be a process made that those who have infractions, they need to make sure they correct them,” Boyd said.

Assemblymember Ting says legislators are working with public health officials to open up schools safely.

“We think that schools should be prioritized, schools should be the number one priority in the state and we want to make sure that by introducing this bill the very first day we are back, we want to tell parents, families, all the districts, all the teachers, all the staff, that schools have to be our priority to get opened up,” Ting said.

Boyd said before schools should reopen, all classrooms must have the proper personal protective equipment to keep staff and students healthy.

“We can only go back if it’s safe for our students, my members and the families in which they come from,” Boyd added.

Until then, Boyd said he’s working with the authors of the bill in hopes they can come up with a compromise that keeps everyone safe.

Recently, United Teachers Los Angeles came to an agreement with LAUSD, the second largest school district in the country, to continue distance learning. The new agreement includes a stipend for school nurses and additional office hours and instruction time.