Oakland school officials say district workers required to get COVID vaccine or test weekly

Just one day after the first day of school, Oakland school officials announced district staff, contractors and volunteers are now required to get the COVID-19 vaccination or to be tested weekly starting September 7. 

Oakland Education Association, Tuesday night, made the announcement on Twitter. The school district confirmed the new measure, calling it a "critical additional step." 

In addition, beginning August 16, masks will be required outdoors on school district campuses, whereas it had previously been a recommendation. District officials said on this day, they will also launch a revised COVID case dashboard and increase the hours of operation for their testing locations.

"Fortunately, 92% of OUSD staff who have reported their status are already vaccinated," the association said. 

Oakland Unified School District in a news release said staff members who are not yet vaccinated, or have yet to report their vaccination status, have until Friday, August 27, to upload proof of their vaccination. Those who had previously self-attested that they were vaccinated will also need to upload proof by the same date. 

KTVU reported on the first day back to in-person class in a year and a half, that some parents remained concerned, especially with children under 12 not being eligible for the vaccine at time when cases are surging due to the highly-contagious delta variant. 

Some teachers also had their reservations about not having a vaccine requirement

Mayor Libby Schaaf along with California Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond toured an elementary school on the first day back and reassured the community that safety protocol included deep cleanings, air purifiers in all the rooms, and asking parents to keep their children at home if they are ill.

Until Tuesday, teachers were only required to undergo regular COVID testing regardless of their vaccination status. Eligible students are encouraged to get the vaccine, but there are no mandates for them. 

"We agree that vaccinations, along with multiple layers of mitigation, are the best way to protect our students, ourselves, and our community from COVID-19 and we will continue to do whatever it takes to keep our schools safe," the teachers' union said. 

Politico reports this development comes one-day prior to an expected announcement from Gov. Gavin Newsom that would require vaccines for all California teachers or weekly testing.  

San Francisco public schools announced a similar mandate on Tuesday. 

"We are grateful for how our community has come together to care for and support each other since the onset of this pandemic. And we will continue to work together to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of our students, families, staff, and partners," OUSD said. 

There are some 49,000 students at Oakland Unified Schools. The teacher's union represents nearly 3,000 of the district's workers.