Bay Area Schools Face Omicron Disease, Closures

As students return to their first week of school in 2022 after winter break, concerns over the omicron variant – and reports of sick students and teachers – have led to school closures and disruptions. work stoppages in the Bay Area, as well as fights between school administrators, teachers and parents.

Of these, the most controversial appears to be in San Francisco, where a host of events in 2021 – on school name changes, school board recalls, and Lowell High’s admissions processes, among others – have been held. transformed the city’s schools into a national flashpoint that will likely continue well into the New Year.

Elsewhere in the Bay Area, schools are also facing their own turmoil, with concerns over rising rates of COVID-19 and failed negotiations with district officials and teachers over COVID-19 protections.

But some experts have expressed concerns that more Bay Area schools could close.

Jeanne Noble, director of the COVID-19 response in the emergency department of UCSF Health and ardent opponent of school closures due to the pandemic, reiterated his post on Twitter.

“Closing our schools in 2020, before vaccination, was a mistake, harming children without reducing viral transmission,” she said in a tweet on Wednesday. “To return to this strategy now, post-vaccination, in the face of an attenuated variant, is out of reach.”

Here’s a look at the affected Bay Area schools. This story will be updated.

Unified San Francisco

Between 400 and 600 teachers became ill Tuesday through Thursday, a San Francisco Unified spokesperson confirmed to SFGATE, forcing accredited administrators and other staff – including Superintendent Vincent Matthews – to be replaced.

A work stoppage was organized Thursday, without affiliation with the teachers’ union, which resulted in the absence of 616 teachers for the day. A district spokesperson told SFGATE that the district had “29% replacement coverage.” A day earlier, the district had “414 classroom teacher requests,” with 32% coverage, the spokesperson told SFGATE.

The United Educators of San Francisco, the district teachers’ union, although not linked to the Thursday work stoppage, has repeatedly called for masks, weekly tests and sick leave before school begins. school in 2022 and during this week.

“We expect the district and city to treat this like the crisis it is and provide the most basic mitigation strategies,” UESF president Cassondra Curiel said in a statement Thursday denouncing the ‘SFUSD’s lack of agreement on COVID-19 precautions.

Unified oakland

A group of Oakland Unified teachers held a sick leave Friday, with at least 500 teachers sick and 12 district schools closed for the day, NBC Bay Area’s Melissa Coronado reported.

While Oakland Education Association president Keith Brown told Oaklandside that sick leave was “not official union action,” he wanted officials “to listen to the urgent demands of all educators in Oakland for better masks and more testing “.

According to a letter-writing campaign released by the OAS before school starts, demands from union teachers include basic testing, COVID-19 sick leave, masking and “safe eating equipment outside “.

In some schools, like Oakland Technology, principals have warned parents not to send their students to school for the day, warning that some students will have no schooling for the day due to the illness.

West Contra Costa Unified

Schools in West Contra Costa Unified are closing Friday and Monday due to a spike in omicron cases among teachers and students, Superintendent Kenneth Hurst said in a notice posted on the district’s website.

“In our district, we are seeing a lot more staff absences than usual due to the virus, and we also have an increased number of students testing positive for COVID-19 upon our return from winter vacation,” he said. he declared.

Hurst also urged all students and teachers to get tested before returning to school on Tuesday, “via a rapid home test or through your health care provider.”

“We will do whatever is necessary and possible to ensure the safety of the students and the continuation of the school,” he said.

Caliber ChangeMakers Academy

The Mercury News reported on Friday that Caliber ChangeMakers Academy, a charter school network with schools in Vallejo and Richmond, was closing Friday through Tuesday.

Rachel Weingarten, the principal of the schools, told the newspaper that the schools were closed “out of excess of caution”.

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