Oakland Unified releases target date to resume in-person learning despite COVID-19 spike

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Tuesday night the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) submitted a reopening plan to Alameda County amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan lists a target opening date of Jan. 25 for in-person learning for younger kids up to 5th grade. Those with the district say this is a way to let the county know that they want to reopen when things are safe again.

RELATED: Bay Area schools continue to push to reopen amid rising COVID-19 cases

"It's hard not being able to see my friends because I really miss them and I can only see them virtually," says Sophia Castro-Blanco who is a 5th grader in the district.

Kids like Sophia and her 3rd-grade brother Santi, say they're ready to go back to school. The two combo can play on the blacktop with only each other, and a select bubble of people.

"I really want to because first of all I'll be able to see all of my friends," says Santi.

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The Teacher's Union also wants to go back, but they say it needs to be safe to do so.

"Communities, particularly in East Oakland that serve our Black and Brown students that have high COVID rates, I have to be honest I'm not optimistic," says Oakland Education Association President Keith Brown.

Those with the district say they understand that. Currently, the county is in the purple tier. You can't open schools until you're in the red tier, but Oakland Unified has a goal of opening in at least an orange tier.

"Some people may have been saying, 'oh look January 25 2021 they're going to be reopening,' that is probably, based on what is happening now, that is not going to happen," says John Sasaki of the Oakland Unified School District.

RELATED: Move into purple tier will stop school districts looking to offer in-person learning

That's reassuring news Sophia and Santi's dad, Juan.

"I don't feel comfortable right now we're still seeing, I guess. It's the third wave, another spike. There's all this talk about the vaccine but who knows when it will be available," says Juan Castro-Zumaeta.

With the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, both Sasaki and Brown are hopeful that those in the community use extra caution, hopeful that people wear a mask, socially distance, and are careful when going into group settings.

They both agree that it has to be safe for everyone, if and when the decision is made to reopen Oakland public schools.

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