July 10, 2020
Contact: Bethany Meyer
OEA Secretary and Communications Chair
(510) 575-7060

This week, educators from the Oakland Education Association began talks with the Oakland Unified School District to determine what learning will look like for students in the upcoming school year. We, the educators of Oakland, want more than anything to return to our classrooms so we can be with our students on the first day of school. However, we do not believe it is safe yet to do so.

“I would love more than anything to be back with my students,” said Chela Delgado, Humanities teacher at Coliseum College Prep Academy, “but we know that COVID is disproportionately impacting black and brown communities, and the rates in East Oakland are higher than anywhere else in the country. I believe it would be irresponsible to open in the Fall.”

We believe that the planned date for a return to in-person instruction must be based on community safety and grounded in objective public health metrics.

Our plan puts safety first. Over the course of yesterday and today, we presented our plan to OUSD, and explained that unless the following criteria are met, we cannot return to in-person instruction:

Criteria One: We must determine Risk is Low enough to return, with low community transmission in Oakland. OUSD must have a detailed, science-based testing and contact tracing program for all students, families, and school staff, paid for and supervised by county public health departments. There must be a downward trajectory, and near zero incidence of documented cases, hospitalization, and positivity rates for at least 14 days in Oakland in order to consider in-person instruction.

Criteria Two: Once Criteria One is met, OUSD must then ensure that Safety Standards and Precautions can be established and maintained. This includes providing PPE (i.e. masks, face shields, gowns, etc.) for all students and staff, class sizes small enough to accommodate six feet of physical distancing, increased cleaning and staffing inside buildings, and facilities upgrades for proper ventilation.

We are disappointed that OUSD’s initial offer does not contain a serious plan to address the safety of students, staff or the community.

“Cases are much higher now then they were when schools were closed in March.” said Keith Brown, president of OEA. “It is difficult to understand how it would be safe to open schools in a matter of weeks when the community transmission is so much higher than it was in March. We want to return to the schools, but we can only do so once we contain the spread of the virus, implement widespread testing and tracing, and ensure proper safety for students, families, and school staff.”