Bay Area School Districts Face Tough Decisions Amid Latest COVID-19 Surge

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As COVID-19 and its omicron variant continue to spread, many Bay Area school districts are facing challenges and decisions.

In San Francisco, according to a social media post by the teachers' union, the school district ran out of COVID-19 test kits, and the union has asked the district to prioritize an agreement around masks, testing and sick leave.

The district did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the union's claims. The district already had offered an additional five sick days for all employees to be taken for COVID-19-related reasons.

Students in two other Bay Area school districts this week could be moving back to remote learning. Hayward Unified announced in a letter to families its students would transition to virtual learning starting Monday because of a surge in COVID-19 cases and a severe staffing shortage.

On Saturday, Milpitas Unified also sent a letter to families saying schools will remain open this week, but students will also have the option to learn remotely.

Santa Clara County education and public health officials agreed that keeping schools open and in class full-time is important.

In Oakland, hundreds of students concerned about COVID-19 protocol say they are preparing to walk out if more preventive measures aren’t added.

More than 300 students signed petitions asking for KN-95 masks for every student, twice weekly testing for everyone on campus and more covered outdoor spaces to eat lunch. The students have set a deadline of next Monday, Jan. 17, for those demands.

The district responded with a statement, saying in part: "We are already meeting, or are in the process of meeting, most of the demands noted in this petition, and we will continue to work towards fulfilling the rest in the coming weeks."

The district said supply chain issues have slowed the delivery of masks and the materials needed to create the outdoor spaces the students are demanding.

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