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Oakland Unified Announces Agreement With Teachers' Union On COVID Safety Amid Omicron Surge

OAKLAND (CBS SF) – The Oakland Unified School District announced it has reached a tentative agreement with the union representing teachers on some COVID-19 safety issues as the district faces staffing shortages amid the omicron surge.

OUSD officials sent a statement Wednesday announcing it has reached the agreement with the Oakland Education Association at the end of last week.

"This agreement focuses on COVID safety and follows two previous agreements - one that focused on safety provisions and independent study and a second that focused on additional compensation," the district said.

As part of the agreement, teachers will receive a "Wellness Day" on Friday. District officials said the day could be used for "self care, to take time to get vaccinations and/or boosters, etc."

Friday was previously scheduled as a professional development day, with no school for students.

OUSD officials also announced that additional leave for teachers who become infected with COVID-19 or are quarantined by the district would be extended through the end of the school year.

District officials said they are negotiating similar provisions with other bargaining units, with the hope of concluding negotiations next week.

The district has information on its COVID-19 protocols posted on the OUSD website.

The announcement comes as the Bay Area continues to see a rise in COVID-19 cases driven by the omicron variant.

In response, hundreds of teachers have called in sick in recent days and some students have threatened to walk out of classes next week if certain safety demands were not met.

At Frick United Academy of Language in Oakland, teachers and staff are in the midst of a two-day sickout after 22 cases were reported on campus. Teachers and staff have listed several demands, including demanding higher quality masks and weekly PCR testing for all on campus, a school-wide quarantine in the event of three or more positive cases over a two-week period.

Meanwhile, a group of high school students have threatened a walkout next week, calling for higher quality masks, increased testing and more covered spaces for students to eat in inclement weather. The students said a resumption of online learning would also be acceptable.

Last week, a planned sickout by teachers in Oakland led to the East Bay district shutting down a dozen schools, according to Oakland Unified officials.

An OUSD spokesperson said 503 teachers called in sick last Friday morning, a rate about 2.5 times higher than a normal day. The absences led to the closure of 12 schools. Nine high schools, two middle schools and one elementary school were "non operational" because of the lack of staff.

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