Oakland schools announce ‘Wellness Day’ on Friday, extend COVID leave for staff

The Oakland Unified School District has extended the COVID-19 leave for thousands of staff and announced a “wellness day” for teachers on Friday, ahead of another planned “sickness” by some teachers and students. Demanding COVID safeguards.

OUSD announced last week it had reached an agreement with the Oakland Education Association to extend the COVID leave, which Provides supplemental sick days for employees Related to COVID, by the end of the year, according to a Wednesday news release. The OEA represents approximately 3,000 teachers, counselors, psychologists, social workers, speech pathologists, early childhood educators, adult education teachers, nurses and substitutes.

The district also announced a “welfare day” on Friday that would serve as a non-working day for teachers. The day had previously been earmarked as a day off for students and a day off for “professional development” for members of the district staff. The district said it is working with other labor partners on similar agreements and will continue talks this week.

The new measures come as students in various school districts, including New York City and Southern California, staged walkouts this week to protest unsafe conditions in their schools. Districts are also grappling with a spike in teacher absenteeism from the highly contagious Omicron variant, which has left some classrooms half-empty amid the current nationwide shortage. Palo Alto Unified School District officials sent a petition asking for community volunteers at schools last weekend after staff members were said to be sick, prompting hundreds of parents to come forward and help.

Staff at Frick United Academy of Languages, Montera Middle School, Madison Park Academy Upper 6-12, Skyline High School, Claremont Middle School and Roosevelt Middle School are planning to take sick Thursday in solidarity with students who have taken the sick leave through Tuesday. Threatened to boycott classes. Until their demands are met as per a petition. According to a petition, the students have asked the district to personally instruct online and twice a week to provide PCR and rapid testing, KN95 and N95 masks for each student in all schools and more outdoor places where students can eat. asked for.

Students attending MetWest High School, Oakland Technical High School, Oakland High School, Skyline High School, Life Academy Oakland and Fremont High School will also be “sick” on Thursday.

Aileen Serrano, Ximena Santa and Benjamin Rendon, 10th graders at MetWest High School who created the petition, say students still haven’t received masks from the district and hope the planned boycott will help district officials keep their promises. will be inspired to do so.

“Our demand is actually we’re not asking for anything, we’re telling the district that they’re giving us what they’re giving us because we haven’t got it,” Serrano said. “It’s reminding them that we really don’t know whether we’re getting it.”

Students say they were told to ward off the “disease” on Thursday after the district received 10,000 masks as donations this week. OUSD officials said they would distribute masks to all high school students in time for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

According to a news release, the district said that 200,000 KN95 masks for students were ordered last week and that KN95 and N95 masks were distributed at school sites, so each employee had at least three N95 masks and two KN95 masks. There were masks. Another 50,000 KN95 masks will be distributed at the sites this week, officials said.

District communications director John Sasaki said in a news release, “Unauthorized illnesses, especially at short notice, create unnecessary challenges for families who still need to work and do not have easy access to child care. ” “For older, more independent students, this can present additional challenges because they cannot stay at home, and instead mingle with others outside their normal circle.”

Sasaki previously said that “supply line issues” had delayed the delivery of supplies, including tables and shed structures for covered eating areas in schools. Sasaki also said that testing is available to students through ten centers across the district, with weekly pooled testing in primary schools and bi-weekly testing for secondary schools. The district is offering vaccine pop-ups at several locations this month.

“We are already fulfilling most of the demands mentioned in this petition, or are in the process of meeting,” he said. “And we will continue to work towards completing the rest in the coming weeks.”

Students at MetWest say they were told by school officials that it would not be possible to conduct COVID tests twice a week due to the “high demand” for the tests. He said that the school is not ready to move towards distance education.

Sasaki previously said that California does not allow funds for the district to be virtual and that they would lose “millions and millions of dollars.”

“They, at all costs, want to school us individually, but are not taking security measures to keep us in school,” Serrano said.