Oakland Unified Begins School Year With Over 2K Zoom Sessions

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While classrooms sat empty, Oakland students and teachers joined more than 2,000 Zoom sessions Monday. 

This as the district and the teachers’ union are still butting heads over how distance learning will work for everyone this semester. 

“It’s a little weird, not getting to go to school and experience the first day of high school,” said Oakland Tech HIgh School student Theo Laber.

He says his only online class lasted about an hour where he got to meet his teacher for the first time and saying the bulk of that class time was spent on working through tech issues and making sure all his classmates were on the same page. 

“It’s kind of complicated, because we have the Zoom calls and everything and we have to work out getting all the kids in, it’s just a lot of moving parts,” said Laber.

As much as Makischa Pope would like her son to experience every high school milestone, she says safety comes first. 

“I would rather them do it online than have him go into a classroom not really knowing the precautions they’re taking to keep everybody safe,” said Pope. 

But when will Zoom sessions start to look like a structured class schedule? That’s what the teachers union and the Oakland Unified School District are currently hammering out.  

The union is pushing for a distance learning plan that calls for less “live” instruction time and more time for teachers to check in with students, sort out tech issues and establish lines of communication with parents.

“Building those relationships with the students and taking this week to make sure that families get access to technology is very important,” said Keith Brown, Oakland Educators Association.

The district says they surveyed parents who overwhelmingly said, they want their kids to have more live instruction. 

“We’re doing our best during these tense circumstances during this pandemic to bring some normalcy to our parents and kids,” said OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell.

Still, no agreement reached between the teacher’s union and the district as to how the online learning schedule will look like for teachers and students.

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