SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – The San Jose Unified School District has reversed a decision requiring all teachers to teach from their classrooms, a day before classes were set to begin under distance learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, the teachers union and the district struck a deal, hours before the start of classes in the large South Bay district.

Under the new agreement, teachers must submit a form and register their decision to work from home beforehand. The decision is final and teachers cannot return to campus, but would be allowed to retrieve items. Teachers who fail to perform their duties while working from home could face discipline, including pay reduction.

The agreement expires on September 26th.

San Jose’s earlier decision requiring teachers to return to campus was criticized by the union as inflexible and unsafe during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Bringing people back on campus, even if they are alone in their classrooms, still requires people to share spaces, to share the restroom, to share our office,” said teacher Jodi Disario.

The district said it was important to get a commitment from teachers that they would put the same energy and effort at home as they would on campus. Meanwhile, teachers were relieved that they would not be required to teach from campus for the first day of classes.

“The agreement was an assurance that the quality of instruction from teachers teaching at home would be the same quality as teaching in the classroom,” Director of Human Resources Jacqueline Murphy said.

The union admits when the shelter-in-place began in March, the switch to online learning was tough for teachers, but said the district’s plan to force everyone back on campus was punishing everyone for the actions of a few educators.

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