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Distance-Learning MOU With a Focus on Instructional Aims

Creating an agreement with the local union for remote learning centered on students


As part of contract negotiations for the return to school in fall 2020, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District leaders worked with the teachers union to negotiate a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) that clearly defined aims and practices for distance and hybrid instruction while maintaining flexibility.

“What you put into your own MOU really counts.” - PK Diffenbaugh, Superintendent, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District


MPUSD grounded the MOU in a clear set of principles and teaching and learning aims, explicitly building in expectations for instruction during mandated schedules. The principles were as follows:

  1. Communication: Frequent communication with students is key for online learning to be consistent and purposeful

  2. Content: Students are assigned work that is meaningful and reasonable for student access, completion, and mastery

  3. Flexibility: Easily deployed, at any time, for any amount of time

  4. Interactions: Works for guardians, while providing consistent support through feedback cycles, teacher/student connections, and other consistent “live interactions”

  5. Feedback: Frequent strength-based feedback is provided for students/families to monitor learning progress

  6. Instruction: Efforts are to enrich, accelerate, and extend learning and will not be utilized in a punitive way due to the extenuating circumstances of many students and families

These principles were then translated into expected schedules. Under the MOU, in addition to offering 100 minutes of synchronous learning time. teachers agreed to provide 110 minutes for more targeted “inclusive opportunities that are of interest to students and to structure afternoon in-person time flexibly and creatively to maximize the amount of individual and/or small-group attention students receive, as well as allow them to work at their own pace and on differentiated content and tasks, alone and together.”

This time was structured around three main components:

  • Support, such as tutoring and small-group instruction aimed at helping students master grade-level standards;

  • Extension, where students engaged in deeper learning independently and with small group learning connected to their current classes; and,

  • Inspiration, through a teacher or student-led passion project.

The negotiation of these specific aims into the MOU supported leaders in having conversations that focused not just on whether or not instruction was being provided but also whether or not the instruction was meeting intended purposes and offered more student-centered opportunities during virtual and hybrid learning.

This strategy is a part of TLA's Hop, Skip, Leapfrog release, which explores the concrete ways in which schools and systems pursued student-centered innovation during COVID-19. Explore the full guide to find additional strategies, insights, and resources.

Strategy Resources

Monterey Peninsula Unified School District MOU: Special Education Cohort Learning

MPUSD leaders worked with their local union to renegotiate memoranda of understanding for instruction during... Learn More

Monterey Peninsula Unified School District MOU: In-Person, Hybrid, & Distance Learning

MPUSD leaders worked with their local union to renegotiate memoranda of understanding for instruction during... Learn More