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News Update

Twelve Oakland schools halt instruction during teacher “sickout”

Twelve of Oakland Unified’s 80 schools were “non-operational” Friday during a sickout protest by a group of teachers decrying what they said are insufficient Covid safety protocols.

The schools were not technically “closed,” district spokesman John Sasaki said, because they still opened their doors, and some staff remained on campus. There was no instruction held at those schools Friday, and families were advised the day prior to keep their children home. Oakland Unified did not offer a child care alternative.

None of the students of those schools attended class Friday, resulting in more than 8,000 absences, Sasaki said. About 503 teachers called in sick Friday.

The one-day protest was organized by rank-and-file members of the Oakland Education Association teachers union, though it wasn’t sanctioned by the union. The group is calling on the district to purchase and distribute N95 and KN95 masks for all students and staff, provide weekly PCR testing for all students and staff, install high-efficiency (HEPA) air filters in all cafeterias and other large spaces, avoid budget cuts to classrooms or student services, provide extra support for school nurses, retroactively extend Covid leave from Nov. 7, 2021, to June 30, 2022, and take other measures, according to a news release. The group is also calling on the district to pivot to remote learning for at least two weeks in order to implement those measures and to reduce the spread of Covid in the community.

While the district has ordered N95 and KN95 masks for all teachers and is working on getting enough for students as well, it is not considering closing for two weeks, Sasaki said.

Oakland Unified and the Oakland Education Association came to a tentative agreement Thursday night regarding Covid leave, Sasaki said, though he didn’t know what the details were at Friday’s news conference. The agreement must still be approved by the district’s school board and by a ratification vote by the union’s members.