Hospitalizations are rising due to the active spreading of the Omicron variant worldwide. More specifically, school safety and the well-being of students, teachers and staff are being affected. On January 7, more than a dozen schools in Oakland were closed when teachers called out sick and students stayed at home in solidarity. Instructional time and the regular school schedule were disrupted. Many teachers and students participated in this protest to push for more enforcement of safety precautions, better masks, and more frequent COVID testing for all. One of their demands involves transitioning from in person learning to online learning until COVID-19 cases decline and is safe enough to return. Many students claim that they don’t feel safe and protected because of a lack of designated space for everyone to eat safely, desks not being spaced far enough apart, and increasing positive COVID cases at school.
So far, OUSD has responded to these demands with updated COVID protocols, improved air filters, and the distribution of KN95 masks to both students and staff. The purpose of the sickout is for the district to listen to people’s COVID safety concerns, and students and teachers have demonstrated a willingness to place pressure on them to take actions to keep the schools a safe place for students and teachers. The CDC has recommended the continuation of social distancing, wearing the most protective masks available, and getting vaccinated as ways of preventing the spread of the virus.