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Oakland schools: Another ‘sickout’ set for Thursday in solidarity with students demanding COVID safety


Employees at some Oakland Unified School District schools will stage another “sickout” Thursday in solidarity with students, who are threatening to boycott classes unless their COVID demands are met during a surge in cases fueled by the omicron variant.

Twenty-five teachers and support staff at Frick United Academy of Language called out sick Wednesday and are set to call out again on Thursday, according to Frick teacher Ella Every-Wortman, who teaches 8th grade humanities and participated in the “sickout.” At Frick United, 22 people have tested positive for COVID since returning from winter break and some classes have reported between 25 to 75 percent of their students being absent, according to Every-Wortman. Sixteen staff members were absent on Monday. The school currently has around 330 students enrolled.

Frick United employees have asked for a mandatory school-wide quarantine if there are three or more positive COVID cases in a two-week period, weekly PCR testing, N95 masks for all staff and students and a vaccine clinic at Frick before Jan. 31 to provide access to vaccines.

Teachers and staff from Montera Middle School, Madison Park Academy Upper 6-12, Skyline High School, Claremont Middle School and Roosevelt Middle School are also participating in the “sickout” on Thursday in order to demand for more COVID safety measures. The action comes after more than 500 OUSD employees called out sick last week and held a car caravan, resulting in at least a dozen schools in the district being shut down for instruction.

OUSD students have started an online petition, which has been signed by more than 1100 students as of Wednesday, and has given the district until Jan. 17 to meet their demands, which includes moving in-person learning to online instruction, KN95 and N95 masks for every student in all schools, PCR and rapid testing twice a week and providing more outdoor spaces where the students can eat. If their demands aren’t met, the students say they will boycott in-person classes starting Jan. 18 by not going to school. The letter was sent Friday to district officials, school board members and Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammel.

“There’s a lot of concerns regarding safety measures and how to protect us from COVID-19, especially the highly contagious omicron variant. We must go back to distance learning until the cases go down again,” the petition states.

OUSD officials said in a Wednesday press release that the district received 10,000 masks and will be distributing KN95 masks to all high school students after getting a donation from Oakland restauranteur Euge Lee. The district said masks will be delivered to all high schools in time for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

The district also said that 200,000 KN95 masks were ordered for students last week and KN95 and N95 masks were distributed to school sites so every employee had at least three N95 masks and two KN95 masks, according to a news release. Another 50,000 KN95 masks will be delivered to sites this week, officials said, adding that at least three HEPA filters have also …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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