Oakland Teachers Plan 'Sickout' Thursday to Protest Lack of Safety in Omicron Surge

OAKLAND, California — Teachers in yet another city are planning to stage a “sickout” Thursday in protest at what they say is a lack of safety during the ongoing coronavirus surge — despite the district receiving money for safety from the federal government.

The San Francisco Chroniclereported that some students are planning to go on “strike” in solidarity with the teachers, too:

Oakland schools are bracing for another teacher sickout less than a week after a group of teachers forced the closure of 12 campuses by calling in sick to protest working conditions during the region’s omicron surge. The district was already grappling with educators who were out due to COVID and a shortage of substitutes.

Some students are also expected to call in sick Thursday and circulated an online petition last week threatening to go on “strike” by not going to school starting next week if the district did not meet safety demands similar to those laid out by teachers.

Teachers already organized one “sickout” last Friday. San Francisco teachers did the same on January 6, echoing teachers in Chicago, who kept schools closed for several days as they protested what they claimed were unsafe working conditions.

California received $15.3 billion in relief funds from President Joe Biden’s “American Rescue Plan Act” in 2021 to spend on school safety and coronavirus testing. The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) alone received $130 million from the law, which gave states and school districts until the end of September 2024 to spend the money. The cash infusion was on top of other relief provided by the state and federal governments to help schools manage the challenge of reopening safely.

In total, Oakland received about $283 million from the state and federal governments to deal with COVID. But only some of the money was spent on safety and coronavirus testing.  Instead, district officials proposed a variety of other spending ideas, including “reparations” for black students and “summer time retreats.”

Ultimately, the Oaklandsidereported, only about $11 million of $100 million in COVID funds allocated for the 2021-22 school year was spent on safety and COVID testing. The rest went to “Saturday school, summer learning, mental health and restorative justice programs, credit recovery options for students who are close to graduating, and investments in literacy support, like paraeducators and reading tutors.”

California is currently undergoing its worst coronavirus surge of the pandemic, thanks to the infectious omicron variant.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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Joel B. Pollak