oakland unified school district

Oakland Teachers Worried About Holiday COVID-19 Surge

Teachers are also shedding light on poor conditions in classrooms

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Teachers in one of the East Bay's largest school districts are worried there's a holiday COVID-19 surge on the horizon, and are demanding that administrators act before its too late.

In Oakland, several teachers are so concerned they've documented what they say are red flags including crowded cafeterias and poor ventilation.

A YouTube video that serves as testimony from eight teachers and staff members from various public schools in Oakland shows students eating indoors. Teachers said its been that way since the beginning of the school year.

"There are no windows, there are vents up here but they do not work," a teacher said in the video pointing out the poor ventilation.

On the other hand, the district said it is being proactive and has a plan that includes giving thousands of students take-home test kits.

Teachers in Oakland are raising red flags about crammed cafeterias, rooms with poor ventilation and damaged outdoor canopies. They say campuses could soon turn into COVID hotspots. Melissa Colorado has been following the story, she has some insight for Raj Mathai.

The teachers who put together the video said they want the district to test every single student and staff member before they return from Thanksgiving break.

"We know that people are going to be inside, we know people are going to be traveling and interacting with a lot of folks," said Oakland Unified School District history teacher Sarah Goudy.

According to John Sasaki, OUSD spokesperson, there will be school testing sites available next week and the weekend after Thanksgiving.

"We are also giving away 20,000 home tests for students to take and we're asking them to test themselves on Sunday and then again on Wednesday," Sasaki told NBC Bay Area.

Those take-home testing kits will go to elementary and middle school students who live in the neighborhoods hardest hit by the pandemic.

At the moment, the district's COVID-19 numbers are low with just 10 student cases and one staff case.

Meanwhile, school board director Mike Hutchinson is worried about another problem on the horizon – getting students 12 and up vaccinated before the district’s vaccine mandate goes into effect. 

"We have this looming vaccination mandate and many of the students that I serve in my district are unvaccinated," he said.

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