Parents want OUSD to clear up confusion around fall reopening plans for high school students

Some parents are unclear about the Oakland Unified School District's plan for high school students next year.

While the district is reopening for in-person learning for Pre-K through second-grade students at some schools next week and all elementary and sixth grades in about three weeks, high school will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.

But what about in the fall?

"I think the biggest source of concern for parents is we don't know what the fall is going to look like," said Allison Stockman, who has two sons in high school.

"Everyone is confused and concerned," said Andrea Dooley, president of the Oakland Technical High School Parent Teachers Association. She says she has been hearing from many parents.

"It is not like there is unanimity about what it should like. There is just confused about what is being proposed " Dooley said.

Last week Oakland school Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell sent a letter to parents that read: "We do not plan on starting the 2021-22 school year in distance learning. We are hopeful that we can open the school year with five full days of in-person instruction a week."

But the letter went on to suggest the district was hedging its bet based on COVID. It said, "However, we will make plans that allow us to start the new school year either in hybrid learning or in full in-person instruction."

"There are things that need to be cleared up so parents will really feel confident and sure if they want their kids to go back to school," said Precious Nwakudu, whose daughter is a junior in high school.

Some parents are frustrated watching neighboring Berkeley committing to full-time in-person instruction in the fall to students of all grade levels.

"I would like to see a similar situation for OUSD akin to what Berkeley has just done," said Stockman.

Some parents have also raised concerns about Oakland high schools going from a semester system to a quarter system, alternating subjects every few weeks. The district says it is preferable in case distance learning becomes necessary next year.

But some parents don't like the idea.

"There is no continuity. A kid can't learn a new language. Stop for 10 weeks then restart and remember enough to be successful," said Dooley.

The district is planning a summer program for some 6,000 students of all grade levels. It will offer both in-person and distance instruction.