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Oakland Students Plan Boycott Over Omicron Safety Concerns

OAKLAND (KPIX) -- Hundreds of students in the Oakland Unified School District were ready to boycott classes on Tuesday. Organizers say their demands to safely return students to school amid the Omicron surge haven't been met.

There has been progress. Boycott organizers say the district has stepped up to provide KN95 masks and outdoor dining spaces. They contend it now comes down to providing weekly testing.

"I'm going to stay out in support of the student strike," vowed Alexander Ibarra from Coliseum College Prep Academy.

The 7th grader is one of many students expected to stay home as the Oakland Unified School District returns from the holiday weekend on Tuesday. Boycott organizers say they will not budge on their demand for COVID testing.

"Weekly testing is really important to me because that means one, we can slow the spread of Omicron not only in our schools but also in our community," explains Ibarra.

KPIX 5 reached out to the Oakland Unified School District.

"We have a robust testing system in place, and we were able to open our testing hubs last Friday and today," said district spokesperson John Sasaki. "We are conducting onsite tests as frequently as possible, with some schools getting onsite testing twice a week and some getting onsite testing once a week."

However, some students say they haven't been offered testing yet and they want it available to all students at every school in the district.

"Everyday their parents make the decision to send their kids to school because they want them to have an education. And right now I want those parents to send their kids to school knowing they will return safe," said Ibarra.

Students say if all of their demands are not met, they want the district to move to online learning. The district has received support from the state and federal level saying keeping kids in school is the best way to proceed during this surge.

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