Oakland students held a virtual protest on Zoom on Friday and are refusing to return to school until the district meets all of their demands for COVID safety – something the district has said it will has already been completed or is in the process of being completed. But teachers disagree and say they have been asking the district for more security measures for months.
Nearly 300 people logged into the Zoom protest on Friday morning, where a few dozen students and teachers talked about the challenges and risks they still face as a result of the pandemic and what they hope to do with schools and districts. will improve.
Since Tuesday, students across the district have been boycotting classes by refusing to come to school and this will continue until the district moves to online learning in person and offers PCR and rapid testing twice a week , KN95 and N95 masks for each student and more outdoor dining space. District spokesman John Sasaki said teachers at Bridges Academy, United for Success Academy and Acorn Woodland Elementary in solidarity with students staged a “sick” Tuesday, forcing the district to close schools.
If masks, outdoor meals and weekly COVID-19 tests, all cannot be obtained, students may want to return to virtual education for two weeks, said Nuriel Cahigas, one of the student organizers of the protest.
Aileen Serrano, one of the student organisers, said that while two out of three demands were met by this week, not all schools have access to weekly PCR or rapid testing.
And, Cahigas said, “not all schools have met all demands.” Some were still waiting for masks or testing kits, so the demonstration was in solidarity to ensure all schools had access to equal resources.
“This is also not an impossible question; Other districts already have weekly testing,” Cahigas said. “We can get this test 100%.”
The students did not specify when the boycott would end, although many tuned in to Zoom from classes, indicating that they were not participating in the sickout, but wanted to support the movement.
On January 5, Serrano, along with MatWest partners Shimena Santana and Benjamin Rendon, drafted a petition that was signed by more than 1,200 students as of Friday, following a surge in positive cases at their school after coming back from winter break. were after. He had earlier said that he started the petition to hold the district accountable for giving students and teachers what they were promised.
Linh Linh Trin, a 10th grade science teacher on the MetWest High School Huggins campus working with student organizers, said the aim of the Zoom protest was to “clear the air”, on the boycott and to give an update for students. Ask your teachers for solidarity. Trinne said she held a hybrid class on Tuesday and told students that they would not face penalties for working late, but that is not the case for all teachers across the district.
“Teachers are still affecting their grades with work,” she said. “At our school, we have sent a message to all families that we are supporting our students and no work will be penalized if they are not in school. We do not want families to have to worry about their safety and education. Had to decide between.”
Sasaki said on Tuesday the absenteeism rate in all grades and schools was 24.6 percent – up from 20.9 percent in the first week of January, but down from 28.1 percent in the second week. Around 230 teachers called for sick on Tuesday, while an average of 250 daily teachers were absent during the days the teacher was sick.
Several students – some of whom were in classrooms or on campus – have spoken about nearly empty classrooms in recent weeks, even before the illness.
A high school student said she returned to school from a quarantine period to see only three to five students in class on any given day.
“It is difficult to keep track of where the students are and who they are around,” the student said. “Without testing, we don’t really know who has COVID.”
According to the district’s daily absenteeism dashboard, at least 8,502 of the roughly 34,000 students across the district were absent on Tuesday, resulting in a potential loss of $512,466. Teachers and students have previously pointed to the loss of funding from California as why the district will not move to distance learning. At the MetWest Huggins campus, teachers said that ten of the nearly 120 graders, eight in class 10, and five in grade 11, came to school on Thursday.
Malinda Morales, a 7th grade humanities teacher at the UFSA, who attended Tuesday’s “Sick,” said teachers were asking the district for similar safety measures before students began boycotting classes.
“Seeing their commitment to making sure their schools are safe really inspired me to keep fighting,” she said. “None of those things were happening in delivery before the students moved on, even though teachers have been fighting for these things since the last school year.”
Sasaki did not specify whether students could face repercussions as a result of the boycott, but said Tuesday would count as “an unforgivable absence”.
District officials said earlier this week it is already meeting the demands of students, giving out 200,000 KN95 masks to students this week, setting up outdoor eating places and creating a “robust” COVID-fighting system. Is implementing 19 testing system, which includes 10 testing centres, bi-weekly testing for secondary. Schools and weekly pool tests in primary schools. But teachers say there are equity issues in how tests and PPEs are distributed in the district. The district had earlier said that 41,000 rapid COVID tests were sent to the students ahead of the winter break.
Daniel Harberger, who teaches 10th grade humanities at the MetWest Huggins campus, said rapid tests were not distributed before the break because “communication was not clear” from the district and teachers didn’t know when to hand them over. After the break, the teachers gave the students masks and rapid tests, but when they found out, the administrators snatched the supplies, he said.
“We pushed ourselves to test our students because we were not feeling safe and two students in my class tested positive,” he said.
School staff are not allowed to take COVID tests without training, said Sasaki, who cited the California Department of Public Health Protocol.
Montera Middle School math teacher Quinn Ranahan said her school didn’t get the tests until the end of the winter break and that administrators had to assign them to students on New Year’s Eve, a problem for some kids who usually take the bus. Used to go to school
“It was difficult for families to come to school for a single penny and get the tests that they should have been given before the break,” she said.
Sasaki previously said: “As far as an equity issue, my understanding is that all of our schools are getting what they need,” adding that any school that hasn’t received supplies has to Should contact him. He also acknowledged that some test kits were delivered during or “immediately after” the break.
Sarah Vogelstein, a special education teacher at UFSA, said her school got enough tests that they could give kits to all students returning from vacation on Monday. “Our school put together a plan where we had every student and staff do a self test and had enough kits to do so when other schools didn’t get any kits,” she said.
Jazmine Lopez, who teaches seventh grade humanities at UFSA and attended “Sick” Tuesday, said she also gave the students a COVID test and, as of Tuesday, received two masks, while the district Said that all the teachers would get five. He said that the absence of teacher and student has affected the studies of the students and affected the morale in the school.
“If you have a situation in your family or personal life, you feel very guilty for taking time off because you know it puts the whole school in a situation that is very challenging,” she said. “You see students drop out one by one and you worry about them. It’s really stressful wondering if I’m going to get sick or if I’m going to make someone else sick or just be constantly exposed. You struggle to live your life at that time.”