Jeffco Public Schools and the Jefferson County Education Association have come to an agreement regarding working conditions for the current school year — particularly when students and faculty return for in-person learning.

Although contract bargaining is continuing, JCEA bargaining chair Michelle Moehlis said it was crucial to first focus on the memorandum of understanding, which will protect the health and safety of staff, students and families.

“It’s been the position of the union that school health and safety is community health and safety,” she said. “We want to be really thoughtful about how we return to learning and that we do so in a way that is taking into consideration the special challenges that COVID presents to us.”

Among other things, the district said in a community update that it has agreed to create a joint monitoring committee. The committee will consist of representatives from JCEA, the Jeffco Education Support Professionals Association, Jeffco administrators and parent and community representatives. The committee will be a resource to help monitor local data, including school infection rates, and can suggest solutions and recommend any adjustments to the restart plan.

This is an important piece, according to Moehlis, considering the MOU is a living document and can be updated if conditions change.

“The idea behind that committee was to sort of have a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in real time,” she said.

The memorandum of understanding also requires that Jeffco provide personal protective equipment to teachers on an ongoing basis as well as coordinate to provide free COVID-19 testing for all symptomatic employees.

Jeffco already had a number of safety precautions in place, and the memorandum of understanding reiterates those. The precautions include health screens, masks, hygiene, social distancing, ventilation improvements and more.

Furthermore, the agreement requires the district to address additional needs in terms of temporary teacher assignments, and it includes specifics about meetings, use of sick leave, breaks and lunch duties, evaluations, class size and more.

In developing the memorandum of understanding, Moehlis said it was crucial to be thoughtful about the ways in which it’s all intertwined. What’s happening on the bus will affect what’s happening in the classroom and in the home.