Fed up with 'inaction,' Oakland parents and students push to return to class

A group of concerned parents rallied near Oakland’s Lake Merritt Sunday afternoon, pushing for the school district and union to reach an agreement to reopen schools.

More than 100 people filled the grass field at Astro Park.

The group consisted of parents, students, educators, even a few health care workers.

One man identifying himself as a physician and parent shared his frustration.

"I’m feeling fed up with inaction, with stalling, with private schools and wealthy public school districts opening up while our public schools remain closed," said Dr. Will Sheldon.  "I’m feeling fed up with my child getting an inferior education."

That frustration is echoed by one of the rally’s organizers with OUSD Parents for Transparency and Safe Reopening.

"We’re watching what’s happening in communities around us.  Kids are back in school two miles, five miles, ten miles away and our kids are still are out of their classrooms," said Megan Bacigalupi, a parent organizer.

Organizers are trying to garner more support hoping it motivates the school district and union to negotiate a deal to resolve safety concerns.

Mayor Libby Schaaf, who made an appearance, hinted their goal may soon be realized.

"We’re so close.  The negotiating sides are very close to an agreement," said Schaaf said. 

Many argue science supports their desire to reopen schools, and a UCSF pediatrician and epidemiologist cited what many studies have concluded.

"That student to student transmission and in particular student to teacher transmission are extremely rare," said Dr. George Rutherford, a UCSF professor and pediatrician.

Not present at the rally, an asthmatic Oakland middle school teacher with a master’s in online education.

Rebecca Recco says any notion that teachers don’t want to return to classrooms is untrue, adding they are simply awaiting a detailed plan that ensures everyone’s safety.

"If anybody is loving teaching online, it would be me, but I don’t.  I really would rather be in the classroom with my students," said Recco.

The school board has issued a letter expressing their desire to begin getting classrooms open for K through 5 by the end of March.  Older kids would potentially go back later.

The plan still needs approval by the teacher’s union.