Alameda County in Red Tier; OUSD likely won’t open classrooms before Jan 2021

An image of a grey Chromebook laptop with OUSD engraved on it.
A Chromebook loaned from OUSD.

Alameda County was just put in the Red Tier zone for COVID-19 according to the state. While that sounds bad, it actually means our cases are declining. Similar to the colors in the air quality index, we were previously purple, which is worse than red.

The biggest impact is that if we stay in the red tier for more than two weeks, it allows schools to re-open for in person learning.

However, the teachers’ union and also the district itself says that OUSD likely won’t have in-person learning en masse anytime before January 2021. According to a newsletter that Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell sent, “We currently have an agreement about distance learning with the Oakland Education Association (OEA), our teachers union, that runs through December 31, 2020 about distance learning. It is fair to say that most, if not all, instruction for students will likely remain via distance learning at least through December.”

In the same newsletter, Johnson-Trammell shares some possible scenarios, but nothing is set in stone:

Currently, we have the following options for in-person supports.
For the time being, we have the following options:

  • Serving small cohorts of students in Special Education:  This is when a school district provides instructional supports for a small number of students on school campuses. This is a very targeted approach. OUSD is excited about a recent MOU with  AFSCME, our labor partners representing paraeducators,  to engage with a small number of students who receive special education services in special day classes (SDC) and who have been identified as regressing severely in their educational outcomes. This cohort approach will also allow us to begin to address a backlog of special education assessments for our students.
  • A county waiver allowing for in-person instruction for TK-6 students: OUSD can apply to the Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) for a waiver which would allow in-person learning for a larger number of elementary school students (e.g., bringing K-2 students back for in-person instruction) as long as we meet a number of safety and other requirements. ACOE requested that school districts let them know if they are interested in applying for a TK-6 waiver. We have indicated  that we are interested in applying for a waiver and will implement the next steps to work through the likelihood of this option. To be clear, expressing interest does not mean we are moving forward with this option, rather it keeps this door open as we continue to plan. Obtaining a waiver is a lengthy process. So far, 16 of the 18 districts in Alameda county have expressed interest. If COVID-19 conditions improve, and if we are able to come to an agreement with our labor partners, and if we gain approval from the state and county, then we would be able to  bring more elementary students back for in-person learning rather than remain only in a distance learning setting.

COVID-19 Tests in Fruitvale this weekend

Two days of free COVID-19 tests will take place in the Fruitvale district this weekend. The two day event is also still looking for volunteers. Sign up here. The event was scheduled in previous weeks but needed to postpone due to bad air quality. For more information on the event, visit United in Health Oakland’s website.

Sanando Juntos Fruitvale testing is intended for three groups.

  1. Families who live within Fruitvale.  We are particularly focused on families who live within the map area. See map.
  2. Children who go to daycare (Head Start or informal daycare) or any form of childcare or elementary school gatherings.
  3. Workers who live anywhere in the Fruitvale area and work for pay at least 10 hours a week.

About Momo Chang

Momo Chang is a freelance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the Oakland Voices Alumni Coordinator. Her work focuses on healthcare, immigration, education, Asian American communities, food and culture. She is a former staff writer at the Oakland Tribune. Momo has received journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for investigative reporting and the Asian American Journalists Association, among others. Her work has appeared in the East Bay Express, San Francisco Chronicle, Wired, and The New York Times. Momo is primarily a print journalist who also produces audio and visual stories for documentary film and radio. She is a Senior Contributing Editor for Hyphen and formerly the Content Manager at the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). View all posts by Momo Chang →

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