Bay Area schools on the map for opening, closing

Bay Area schools aren’t functioning right now, as the COVID-19 omicron surge threatens to take months of careful planning to get kids back in the classroom this year.

Perhaps a flow chart would help, as the opening and closing rates are certainly hard to track. Oakland students say they will protest unsafe conditions in their schools if district leaders do not act quickly. Parents of Palo Alto are signing up to support schools in place of sick teachers. Hayward Schools is going online for a week after facing staff shortages and a lack of testing. The children of the San Ramon Valley are back in class on Tuesday for the first time before winter break.

Milpitas Unified initially decided to move classes online for two weeks, but reversed course when Santa Clara County officials urged school leaders to keep classes open. The West Contra Costa district reopened for in-person learning on Tuesday after closing schools on Friday and Monday following positive COVID-19 cases, low test availability and staffing storage.

Disparities in the way schools are run right now include school leaders who originally plan to keep schools open, parents who want to keep their children safe and a push and pull between teachers and students. Teachers and students who are trying to instruct and learn in suspiciously safe classroom conditions. ,

Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the Bay Area and testing remains a problem. Rapid tests are nearly impossible to find, and scheduling an appointment for a PCR test is equally difficult. And a significant number of teacher and student absenteeism in schools across the region is negatively impacting students’ learning.

One of the most publicized debates over school reopening is taking place in Oakland. More than 500 Oakland Unified teachers on Friday staged a sickening — leading to the closure of a dozen schools — to protest what they said were unsafe classroom conditions amid a surge in COVID cases.

District spokesman John Sasaki said instruction for 8,426 students was affected by the bandh.

Now students are taking up microphones in response to protests and what they call the lack of safety measures in their schools. Hundreds of teens at Oakland high schools sent a letter Friday to district officials, school board members and superintendent Kayla Johnson-Tramell demanding change, while cases of COVID-19 rose in their classrooms.

In petitionThe students argue that there is no access to masks recommended by local and state health authorities, no designated places for people to eat safely, no access to weekly PCR or rapid testing, when teachers are ill and They don’t have classroom desks so there is no option coverage. It is spread far and wide.

They are threatening to go on strike by not going to school on January 18 and protest outside the district office on January 21 if the authorities do not make changes by Monday, January 17.

“If these demands are not met, we will go on strike by not going to school. We will strike till we get what we need to be safe,” the petition reads.

Sasaki said school leaders are also concerned about the spike in Omicron cases and thanked students for “being in front of these issues.” He said the district is already meeting or in the process of meeting most of the demands mentioned in his petition and “will continue to work towards meeting the rest in the coming weeks.”

School leaders have recently ordered masks for all students and are expecting them soon. And over the summer the district ordered a supply of “new covered eating places at dozens of schools, including new tables and shade structures” and is waiting for those items to arrive, Sasaki said.

Sasaki said the district is offering testing at 10 locations and hosting weekly pool testing in primary schools and drop-in testing in secondary schools.

School leaders there are urging students to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible. The district requires all students to be vaccinated by January 31, with some exemptions.

“The best thing all students can do to protect themselves is to be vaccinated and promoted,” Sasaki wrote.

Meanwhile, Oakland School for the Arts, a charter school downtown, is closing for the rest of the week due to staffing challenges.

Hayward Schools is also running online. The Hayward Unified School Board voted to extend online learning for at least one week until Friday, January 14, to allow its staff to serve their quarantine period, access tests and get back test results. The district handed over laptops to families on Monday so that students can enter online classes.

Across the bay, San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Vincent Matthews said Tuesday that the city aims to keep classes open during the Omicron surge, and has stepped up testing efforts to help students and staff find out whether they are infected as soon as possible.

In Palo Alto, where school leaders asked parents to step in for everything from custody positions to hundreds of teachers sick in the classroom, 450 volunteers came to the rescue Monday morning, a spokesman for Don Austin said. said. District. Austin said he hopes the move will be a model for the state.

“We won’t stop and now we have a reason to be confident,” Austin said.

In the San Ramon Valley, where children returned to class on Tuesday, district leaders handed over all home tests they received from the state last week. Ilana Samuels, a spokeswoman for the district, said she planned to keep schools open and was “confident in the safety precautions we have in place to do so.”