OUSD warns of possible teacher sickout amid omicron surge

The Oakland Unified School District on Thursday warned parents that some educators may be planning what they described as an "illegal" sickout amid skyrocketing COVID cases seen across the region, according to an email sent to families. This follows a forewarning from public school teachers in San Francisco who are demanding safe working conditions.

The Oakland Unified School District said an unspecified number of teachers may call out sick on Friday, which could in turn impact classrooms.

"We need to be clear: this action - at whichever schools it occurs - is likely to significantly disrupt basic operation and instruction and will negatively impact the safety of students," the district said.

District officials said it remains unclear which schools may be affected or whether they will be given any advanced notice of which teachers will be out. But by late Thursday afternoon, the principal from Oakland Tech posted to ParentSquare that students should not be sent to school on Friday. In his post, Principal Richard Fairly confirmed teachers had notified him they would be absent. 

"While our school will still be open tomorrow, it is highly likely that no instruction will be provided," he wrote while also offering an apology.

Earlier, the district had countered with the problems that the teacher absenteeism pose.

"An unexpected need to keep students home on Friday with little or no advanced notice is likely to force families to place their children in less safe environments. Most of our parents and guardians will need to continue to go to work on Friday even if their child’s teacher participates in this unauthorized work action," the district wrote.

Oakland Unified said it has quickly adjusted to the changing health protocols, bolstering COVID testing and other protections against the virus.

Oakland public schools handed out more than 21,000 take-home tests, which helped them identify more than 900 positive cases among students and staff before classes resumed Monday.