A teachers union in Oakland is threatening to go on strike over COVID safety concerns at schools.
The announcement Thursday came after Oakland Unified School District students planned related boycotts and teachers staged several "sickouts" this month.
The district last week reported 862 students testing positive for COVID, with more than 100 staff members contracting the virus as well. The president of the teachers union said the shortage of teachers is creating a crisis in the classroom, and he is willing to act if nothing changes.
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"I'm authorized to call a strike in the next 48 hours if we do not get that agreement," Oakland Education Association President Keith Brown said, referring to a demand for the district to commit to an updated COVID safety plan.
Brown said there is still room for improvement even after the district ordered KN95 masks for every student and continues to host testing sites on campuses.
"The hours of the testing hubs do not serve working families," Brown said. "I'm hearing things about families being in line for almost an hour and at 4 p.m. being told they have to go home."
Brown said union members will meet with district officials late Thursday to discuss another COVID safety plan.
A district spokesperson said this would be the ninth binding agreement with the teachers union throughout the course of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, an overwhelming number of students across Oakland continue to call out sick. The district said nearly 25% of students were absent on Tuesday. The previous Tuesday, Jan. 11, saw more than 27% of students across the district miss classes.
"Whether there are sickouts or strikes, it's incredibly disruptive for parents, especially parents who don't have a luxury to work from home and use school as child care," said Megan Bacigalupi, an Oakland mother.