Oakland, CA

OUSD meets 'most' student safety demands ahead of planned walkout

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(OAKLAND, Calif.) Oakland Unified School District officials indicated Tuesday that they've met "most" of the safety demands outlined by students, who staged a massive walkout Tuesday morning.

The 1,200 student petition, organized by MetWest High School sophomores Ayleen Serrano, Ximena Santana and Benjamin Rendon, was spurred by the dramatic increase in positive cases following the winter break.

The petition is asking the district to move to remote learning and provide PCR and rapid testing twice weekly, KN95 and N95 masks for every student and additional outdoor spaces for students to eat.

According to a reporter from KTVU, teachers at three Oakland schools organized a solidarity protest with students.

This comes after more than 500 teachers staged a "sick-out" in early January that forced the district to shut down 12 schools for the day. This marked the third such sick-out for Oakland teachers. They, like the students, fear for their health and safety amid an ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases.

"We feel we have very robustly addressed their concerns," district spokesman John Sasaki said.

He told KTVU that district officials recently provided 200,000 masks for students although he did not indicate what kind of masks officials provided. Sasaki also indicated that roughly 130,000 tests were performed last fall.

While Sasaki indicated the students who walked out Tuesday would be marked absent, and that overall, the district feels that school is the safest place for students, he also noted that the district has no interest in punishing anyone for their absence.

OUSD could face a loss of state funding due to student absences, as state funding is based on attendance.

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