Oakland Unified School District students in California demand better coronavirus safety precautions. Or else, they will “strike” school and not return until their demands are met.
Students issued a “District Wide Petition,” earlier this week, asking that the OUSD switch to remote learning or distribute KN95 or N95 masks to all students. They also requested that OUSD conduct two weekly PCRs and rapid tests on every student.
The petition was signed by over 1,200 students. This gives the school until January 17 to comply with their demands. If not, the students will “strike”, and they won’t be able to go to school starting on Jan. 18 until their demands have been met.
Beginning on January 21, students will protest outside the district offices building. According to district data, approximately 52,000 students attended OUSD schools in the 2020-2021 school years. According to the document, the petition was addressed to Kyla Johnson-Trammel, OUSD Superintendent, and school board members.
This letter is to let you know that OUSD students aren’t comfortable going to school due to the increasing incidences of COVID-19. There are many concerns about safety and how to protect ourselves from COVID-19, particularly the highly contagious Omicron variant. The petition says that we must return to distance learning until cases are reduced again. We demand weekly PCR testing and KN95/N95 masks to ensure safe learning environments. We will strike if these requirements are not met. We will strike until we have what we need to stay safe.
Partly, students claim that in-person learning can be dangerous because of the increased number of coronavirus cases, lack of access to N95 masks, and the fact that desks are not evenly spaced in classrooms. Fox News Digital was provided a statement by John Sasaki, the Director of Communications at the OUSD. It stated that the district was aware of the petition and that it is working to satisfy most students’ demands.
“We share the concern of students about the increase in COVID-19 omicron cases. We have given N-95 and KN-95 masks to all staff. We also purchased enough KN95 masks to supply all students. Once they arrive, the masks will be distributed to all students. Since last summer, we have been able to order the supplies needed for newly covered eating areas at dozens upon dozens of schools. This includes new tables and shade structures. Their delivery has been slowed by supply line issues. “Our staff has already begun installing these structures at schools where deliveries have been made,” the statement states.
District responded to students’ concerns about coronavirus testing. It stated that tests are available at ten locations around the school district.
Sasaki stated that the school district received 200,000 KN95 masks and is now distributing them to schools. He said that OUSD had been in touch with students who signed the petition and that they would continue to discuss the matter.
“We also do weekly pooled testing in elementary schools and bi-weekly drop-in testing for secondary schools. Most of the demands in this petition have been met or are being met. The statement says that we will work to fulfill the remaining demands in the coming weeks.
Students in the district took this action after teachers held a “sickout,” on January 7. Students all over the country are demanding better safety protocols for coronavirus in schools.
Chicago Public Schools high school students plan a walkout Friday to demand that Chicago Public Schools provide coronavirus relief stipends to students and switch to remote learning for two weeks.