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Education

Chula Vista teachers plan walkout as students return from holiday break

Students in most of the South Bay’s school districts returned to in-person classes today, after their holiday break. As we’ve seen, the new year continues to bring COVID challenges to schools across the county. KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez says in one district teachers are planning a walkout while parents keep looking for more testing.

Students in most of the South Bay’s school districts returned to in-person classes Tuesday after their holiday break. The new year continues to bring COVID-19 challenges to schools across the county.

In the Chula Vista Elementary School District, the burden of distance learning and constantly changing safety regulations has been compounded for teachers who have worked with an expired contract since June.

“We've been going through this pandemic, distance learning, and showing up for the kids. We are doing our best and we don’t feel respected,” said Michelle Kohler, organizing chair of Chula Vista Educators (CVE).

Chula Vista Educators flyer encouraging ongoing on-time walkout for its members starting Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022.
Courtesy of Chula Vista Educators
Chula Vista Educators flyer encouraging ongoing on-time walkout for its members starting Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022.

The union represents 1,400 teachers and school nurses, counselors, speech therapists, and psychologists within the district.

“There are no other occupations where you are expected to work for free,” Kohler said.

CVE leaders claim the district first proposed no salary increase in a new contract and then came back with a 2% raise for all staff depending on funding from the state budget.

In response, the union distributed a flyer encouraging members to walk out of school on time every day starting Wednesday. Members are told to only work the contracted seven-hour day with no after-school meetings, planning, or volunteering until the district offers what the union calls a reasonable pay raise and new contract. “We don't feel like the district deserves our time if they’re not compensating us for it. Where's the appreciation for us?” Kohler said.

KPBS News contacted the district for comment. Oscar Esquivel, interim superintendent emailed the following written statement:

“At this time, the District is unaware of any plans for a potential teacher walkout. Each of our schools is busy welcoming back students, their families, and staff to the start of the new school quarter. We look forward to continuing our work with our teachers and support staff to make this a successful and safe school year for all.”