OUSD has a targeted re-opening date of January 25, 2021, with many caveats

Two girls running on grass wearing black face masks.
Photo by Atoms via Unsplash.

The Oakland Unified School District submitted re-opening plans to the Alameda County Office of Education, which is required before schools can re-open. Overall, the district’s plan is taking a very moderate, staggered approach that will still be based on a distance learning model. (Read the plan here or click here for versions in Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic).

The district’s plan states that as early as January 25, 2021, schools may re-open, starting with pre-k through 2nd grade. However, the re-opening is contingent upon three major factors: local COVID rates, state/county guidelines, and negotiations with the teachers union.

Should the county remain in purple tier, schools will not be allowed to re-open at all (only red tier or lower are allowed to open). In the plan, the district states schools will only be allowed to re-open if there are 1-3.9 new daily cases of COVID per 100,000 people.

The other major factor is negotiations with the teachers union (OEA) and other unions. In the summer, OEA stated that teachers would not return to the classroom unless there is virtually no community transmission of COVID. It is possible that a compromise could be reached. It’s unclear if some teachers can choose to teach remotely, but the district does state that not all teachers will be teaching in person.

The other major caveat is that even if schools re-open next semester, the model will still be based on distance learning, since the district predicts that many families will still choose distance learning. The plan states that any family that wants to keep their kids at home can do so.

It should be noted that there is already some in-person learning support taking place in Oakland, including day programs at through the city’s Parks and Rec centers, and limited in-person instruction at some school sites and support for special education students after school.

Other highlights from the district’s plan:

  • Overall, OUSD’s plan for re-opening takes into account public health and safety; for example, they are taking a more conservative approach than the state and county. The state and county’s guidelines state 4-7 new daily cases per 100,000, while OUSD is requiring 1-3.9 daily cases per 100,000 before re-opening.
  • Classes will be limited to 8-10 students, utilizing outdoor or well-ventilated space when possible. Students will meet a minimum of two days a week in person.
  • Students will be required to wear masks except when eating/drinking (unless the students is not able to for medical or other reasons). Cloth masks will be provided to teachers and students for free, and face shields by request.
  • Parents/guardians do not have to send their kids in person and can continue to distance learn.
  • Teachers/staff will be tested once a month, with 25 percent of the adults tested once a week. This is more strict than current guidelines from the county/state.
  • The county’s office of education has contracted with Curative, Inc. to provide free COVID tests to educators. They are self-administered, and then sent to labs.
  • The district has outlined plans for contact tracing, and shutting down schools for 14 days, if there are any cases.
  • The targeted opening date is January 25, 2021 for pre-k-second grade, then February 1, 2021 for 3-5th grade. Middle-high school will remain largely distance learning, with some possible in person support beginning at a targeted date of February 8, 2021.
Author Profile

Momo Chang is a freelance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the Oakland Voices Co-Director. 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).

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