UTLA, the Los Angeles teachers union, voted late last week not to return to in-person classroom instruction until a series of demands are met — including a demand that all teachers and staff be vaccinated against COVID-19 — but now members are warning each other, on a private Facebook group, not to reveal that some individuals have been taking vacations while schools have been closed to avoid bad “optics.”
Newsweek reports that a “private Facebook group from a teachers union in Los Angeles warned members not to post images of Spring break vacations online after the union voted to remain closed for in-person instruction.”
“Members of the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) union were told to avoid sharing images of vacations in a leaked private Facebook group to avoid controversy with parents,” the outlet noted, citing Fox 11 LA, which found the post.
“Friendly reminder: If you are planning any trips for Spring Break, please keep that off of Social Media. It is hard to argue that it is unsafe for in-person instruction if parents and the public see vacation photos and international travel,” one of the group’s members posted to the others.
NEW: In a leaked post from a private Facebook group for UTLA union members only, teachers are warned not to post on social media if they go on spring break vacations because the optics would be bad for them while UTLA is refusing to return to "unsafe" in-person schooling @FOXLA pic.twitter.com/KxQc7k450T
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) March 9, 2021
According to Deadline, UTLA has flatly refused to return to classrooms until their demands are met and the union’s membership voted, on Friday, to refuse to return to in-person learning, even though California Governor Gavin Newsom announced, earlier last week, that the state plans to free up billions in aid for “safety improvements, such as ventilation systems and protective equipment.”
“The union is demanding that all teachers and school staff be vaccinated before they return to in-person instruction. It also does not want campuses to reopen until Los Angeles County moves out of the ‘purple’ tier,” Deadline reported. “Union officials argue that while the countywide transmission rate has dropped below the 25 per 100,000 residents threshold, many neighborhoods the LAUSD serves are lower-income, and have rates that are three times as high as more affluent communities.”
Los Angeles United School District is, by contrast, looking to have students back in classrooms in April.
The union likely knows what is at stake when such photographs become public.
As the Daily Wire reported last month, as Chicago Public Schools was busy negotiating a return to classrooms with the Chicago Teachers Union, a teacher on the union’s executive board posted photos of her Puerto Rican beach vacation to Instagram, triggering an immediate backlash against CTU, which was, at the time, claiming a return to classrooms was simply too risky.
“We have the whole pool to ourselves,” the teacher captioned one shot. “Then, we are going to old San Juan to get some yummy seafood mofongo. We have an entire Airbnb house to ourselves. I’m here with my friend who also had covid.”
CTU and CPS argued for weeks over a return to in-person learning but, ultimately, the public school system won out and Chicago students may return to classrooms if their parents choose. Students in K-8 are already back to in-person instruction and high school students are expected to return to classrooms this month. The union received few concessions in its standoff with the city; teachers were given “priority” for the vaccine and the city agreed to better hygiene practices.
In a statement made following published reports of the Facebook post, the union insisted hiding vacation photos was not an official policy.
“We have a diverse membership and they are able to post their views on personal Facebook pages and in this Facebook group—however UTLA does not monitor nor is responsible for the content. We do not want to discourage a robust dialogue for members in the public square of opinion,” they said.
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