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East Bay Schools Make Big Push to Test Students, Staff

OAKLAND (KPIX) -- There's a major effort underway to get Bay Area students tested for COVID before returning to school on Monday.

Oakland Unified and West Contra Costa County Unified school districts were testing and handing out at-home test kits to students on Sunday.

At the Fremont High School test site in Oakland, parents and students said the average wait time was about four hours and the line stretched almost three blocks.

"It was a very cold morning but definitely worth it," said parent Mario Carrasco.

The test is recommended but is not mandatory in both districts.

"It's important that COVID doesn't spread anymore so it doesn't get worse at school and we would have to start Zoom. That would be much worse," said Oakland student Gabriela Carrasco.

Oakland Unified spokesman John Sasaki said that, in addition to the test site, they had also passed out 41,000 at-home tests to students before the winter break.

"We want to avoid any big spikes on campus so we want people to test before they come back," Sasaki told KPIX.

In West Contra Costa County, students could pick up the tests at two schools on Sunday: Kennedy High and Pinole Valley High.

"It's just a little bit concerning coming back to school," said Izaak Vanpell, a senior at Richmond High.

Vanpell said the long line and high demand from fellow students was a good sign.

"It's a team effort, 'cause once one gets infected, right?, everyone is susceptible. They're going to go home to their families. I'm going to go back to my family," Vanpell said.

Teachers agreed it will take the entire community to keep the schools safe.

"It's just a little peace of mind so that we all can feel safe back in the classroom. I want to feel safe back in the classroom, I've got an older husband," said Lisa Weaver, a teacher at Washington Elementary in Point Richmond.

"We've made it available. We've offered it to you in good faith. We're going to believe that people tomorrow, even staff, we're going to come back and we all know that we're negative," said Kennedy High teacher Miesha Gash.

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