West Contra Costa Unified Teachers Threaten Strike Over COVID Safety

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Hundreds of teachers in the West Contra Costa Unified School District are threatening to strike over COVID safety.

The teachers union and district superintendent met for several hours Friday in hopes of avoiding a potential work stoppage.

United Teachers of Richmond says the majority of the district's 1,500 teachers, nurses and staff are willing to walk off the job if their demands aren't met.

The union is demanding the following improvements:

  • High-quality masks for all
  • Weekly testing for all
  • Twice weekly testing for infected classes

"These are frontline workers. Teachers in the classroom are there for five periods per day with 35 different students - that's 175 contacts per day," Pinole Valley High School Principal Kibby Kleiman said. "They are the ones putting it on the line on a daily basis."

In a letter to the school community, the district superintendent said in part: "Employees coordinating with one another to call in sick together is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. This type of action is not helpful and exacerbates our current staff issues."

About one-third of the district's students were out sick or quarantining over close contact during the first week of January. The district shut down all campuses for two days to do a deep cleaning.

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