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UPDATE: Oakland Unified Faces Latest Protests Over Omicron Safety Concerns

OAKLAND (CBS SF) – The Oakland Unified saw another day of protest Monday as a number of students and teachers skipped school to call for improved COVID safety measures.

The day was disrupted for at least one Oakland school Tuesday where there couldn't be any instruction because either there weren't enough students or teachers in class.

Chopper 5 was overhead during an Oakland car caravan Tuesday morning that was part of the protest. KPIX spoke with a student who had planned to participate in the protest and one of her parents.

"I just feel frustrated, because a lot of the kids are coming to school even after they know they have COVID," said Zolie Sarriugarte, a student at Oakland Tech.

She was going to skip school along with hundreds of others, but she decided not to. A hard decision to make, her father Jon Sarriugarte agreed.

"I hear her go back and forth, wanting to be in school, wanting to learn, wanting to do her assignments to get good grades, but the next hour, the next day. worried about her own safety," he said. "Are we exchanging grades for a life-threatening illness?"

5th grade teacher Zinnia Gangopadhyay said it's all financial.

"I think it is very financially motivated," explained Gangopadhyay. "I think the way that the system is set up where having student bodies in physical classrooms is the way that schools are funded is very problematic. And particularly light threatening during COVID."

At her school, she says nearly half of the students were out last week because of COVID.

Students and teachers say they have three simple demands: provide weekly tests, add more outdoor spaces for students to safely eat and fairly distribute masks to all schools.

"Those that have aren't getting the same number of masks per student," said Gangopadhyay. "So some are getting five per student, some are getting one per student."

On Monday, an OUSD spokesperson said the district has a robust testing system, but cannot do thousands of weekly tests without support from the state and Alameda County.

The district also saying it has been installing more covered outdoor eating spaces for students at several schools since the fall and plans to do more, but materials have been on backorder.

OUSD spokesperson John Sasaki did not know how many students did not come to school Tuesday because of the boycott. The records were not immediately available.

Some students could not go to school if they wanted to because of a teacher "sickout." Enough teachers stayed home Tuesday to force the district to close two elementary schools -- Bridges Academy and Acorn Woodland Elementary -- and United for Success Academy, a middle school.


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