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Letter of Agreement Regarding Return to Learn 2020-2021 School Year Provisions/Preparedness and Response

Charis Lee

By Charis Lee, Esq., MASB Assistant Director of Labor Relations & Legal Services

September 2020

The Michigan Education Association prepared a sample letter of agreement for its members regarding the Return to Learn 2020-2021 School Year Provisions/Preparedness and Response. Many of the provisions contained in the sample LOA may be covered by an applicable collective bargaining agreement and/or applicable law. Additionally, the 2020-2021 Return to School Roadmap helps to inform school districts regarding legal requirements and recommendations when a district is in Phases One through Six of the Michigan Safe Start Plan. Districts in phases One through Three are not allowed to attend school in person.

The LOA does not have to cover the entire school year. Your district may opt to cover the first semester of the school year or a different time period such as to the end of the calendar year. Many of the provisions in the LOA already discuss procedures districts are required to perform either pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement or by law. The LOA should focus on COVID-19-specific provisions that are not covered by contract or law.

Below are topics a school district may want to discuss if presented with a LOA:

Social Distancing

Social distancing is expected when possible. Consider creative ways to help everyone feel safe going back to school, which may include minimizing class sizes, mask breaks outside, and plexiglass or other barriers that help to keep social distance.

Personal Protection Equipment

A plan for PPE will likely include face coverings or shields, gloves and sanitizer. How will the district make PPE available to all staff?

Infected Students and Staff

Assure the association that the district will follow all county health department protocols to include assessment of students and staff who may be exhibiting COVID-related issues.

Leaves of Absence

Typically, leaves of absence are covered by the contract. The district should stress its commitment to abide by contractual, state and federal laws regarding leaves of absence. Keep in mind the Families First Coronavirus Response Act expires Dec. 31, 2020.

Training

It may be helpful to discuss how the district will provide the necessary skill and support to transition into teaching under COVID-19-related circumstances.

Teacher Evaluations

Remember this is a prohibited subject of bargaining under the Public Employment Relations Act. Management reserves the right to determine how to evaluate teachers as required by the Revised School Code.

Remote Learning Plan

Management is entitled to create a remote learning plan and should consult with the association regarding the impact of the plan on bargaining unit members, if any. Teachers should indicate to the district if they will need additional resources while teaching remotely.

Face-to-Face Meetings and Instruction

Under a remote learning plan, districts may want teachers to come in during certain phases of the plan. The district may find it helpful to agree they will comply with all state laws or orders issued in regard to remote learning.

Cleaning

Explaining that cleaning will be performed in accordance with the county health department may be helpful. Assure the association that classrooms will be cleaned, however, a district does not need to state by whom in the LOA.

Sports

Think about how to determine if coaches will be paid. If sports are canceled after practices have started will the pay be prorated?

If you have any questions concerning a LOA received by your district, please don’t hesitate to contact the MASB Legal Department.