Back to school delayed: Parents surprised by OUSD notice on lack of teachers

Some Oakland parents are receiving surprise notices from the school district telling them their students will not be able to return to in-person class at their school next week as planned.

The reason: Not enough teachers.

One parent of a first-grader at Manzanita SEED Elementary School received a letter from the school district Thursday saying their schools are not re-opening as planned next week.

The letter says in part, "At this time, we simply do not have enough staff who opted in for in-person instruction to open classrooms for all TK-2 and priority students on Tuesday, March 30. The SEED will open some classrooms next week for priority students in 3rd grade."

"It just keeps getting pushed back and our kids can't wait. I'm disappointed. Frustrated," said parent Briana Barron. "I haven't told her yet," speaking of her first grader. "She is going to be disappointed."

Under the agreement between teachers and the district, teachers can opt-out of in-person instruction until April 19 when in-person learning includes Pre-K to 5th grade and one upper grade. And it appears many teachers have opted out.

"We are trying to inform the families at those schools specifically if they are going to be affected by this issue," said school district spokesman John Sasaki.

The school district did allow TV cameras in Garfield Elementary School to show all the COVID safety measures it has taken at each school. Officials say they have a 55-point inspection protocol.

"We are looking at ventilation, air purifiers. We are looking at the classroom as well," says Preston Thomas, of the district's chief services office.

"We have more of a hospital-like cleaning procedure. That includes cleaning high tough surfaces, electrostatic sprayers in classrooms and common areas," says Roland Broach, head of custodial services.

Students who do return to the classroom can come twice a week, with distance learning the other days.

Many kids will be returning to their classrooms next week.

"They're a little nervous. I have a kindergartner. He's never been inside his class. There are a lot of unknowns," says Megan Bacigalupi, the mother of two students.