OAKLAND, Calif. - The Oakland Unified School District has reached an agreement with the teachers union for in-person learning to resume for some students next week. It comes as families in Livermore are preparing to head back into the classroom on Monday.
After months of debate, the Oakland Unified School District announced an agreement with the teachers union over the weekend.
The phased-in approach would allow for preschool through second grade and priority students (homeless, foster youth and English learners) of all grade levels to start March 30. Third to fifth grade and at least one secondary grade will be back April 19.
"It’s been a long time coming for a lot of our students, a lot of our families," said John Saski, Oakland Unified School District Spokesman. "They want to be back in school. We know a lot of staff is excited to back in school too so we wanted to gradually ease into it."
The district said 58% of families with elementary students want their kids back in school.
Rebecca Bodenheimer's third-grader misses his friends.
"We are robots because we have to click a button just so that we can talk," said 8-year-old Julian Moncada.
Bodenheimer is relieved but said the plan isn't good enough.
"We have some idea," said Bodenheimer. "It might be two days a week for two and half hours a day, that just seems really insufficient given what we know about how rare school transmission is, particular elementary school students."
She said teachers are also able to get the vaccine.
"Not only my son but all kids in Oakland should be back to school five days a week right now," said Bodenheimer.
"I don’t think it’s safe as long as all children are not vaccinated," said Oakland teacher Mark Airgood.
Airgood is one of the teachers who voted against the agreement. He said 45% of teachers in the union did.
"Children can catch the virus," said Airgood. "They can transmit the virus. They can take it home to their families."
Oakland parents said it is hard to see it as a win when neighboring districts like Livermore are welcoming back students of all grade levels including high school on Monday.
The superintendent there said case and positivity rates are low.
"Our numbers in Livermore are looking really good," said Kelly Bowers, Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District Superintendent. "I know in Oakland some of the numbers may be concerning."
"There are some nerves but hopefully we have gone over the hump and ready to get going again," said Livermore Parent Daniel Robles.
The agreement in Oakland still requires the approval of the school board. No word yet on when high school students in Oakland will return.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.