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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

West Contra Costa teachers threaten to strike for more protection against COVID

RICHMOND – Gabrielle Micheletti’s first-grade students usually arrive for class by 8:30 a.m. at the Verde K-8 School in Richmond and wear child-sized surgical masks, some of which are decorated with colors or cartoon puppy dogs go.

But her 24-student class has been mostly empty since the school resumed testing for COVID-19. “Last week, the most students I had in class were five,” Micheletti said. “On Friday, I only had two students with me.”

More than 1,500 teachers, nurses and support staff in the West Contra Costa Unified School District say they could go on strike if the district doesn’t strengthen protective measures against COVID-19 by Friday.

“Unknowingly, we were hearing a lot of frustration and a lot of fear from teachers at all levels,” said Micheletti, who is the primary director of the United Teachers of Richmond union. “It seems that we are always caught on our heels. Teachers will try to approach the leadership in the district and say, ‘We are anticipating a (boom), this is the ground reality.’ And nothing really happened.”

Marissa Glidden, president of United Teachers of Richmond, said 72% of the 1,100 teachers polled over the weekend would support the strike over what they called an unsafe environment for learning in the district, which is in Richmond, San Pablo. Serves approximately 27,000 students. El Cerrito, Pinole and Hercules.

After the vote, Glidden said that the union’s executive board authorized the strike if there was no agreement on the four main issues in the district resolution on Monday.

The union wants to provide teachers with new high-quality masks every day, weekly COVID testing for all, an eligible adult in every class without a regular teacher and either testing twice a week or distance learning for classes where the virus Many cases have been broken.

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