Oakland School for the Arts issues emergency COVID closure for rest of this week

The school's principal says due to changes with the state law, they aren't able to offer distance learning during the closure.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2022
Short-staffed Oakland arts school issues emergency COVID closure
The Oakland School for the Arts issued an emergency closure for the rest of this week due to COVID-related staffing shortages.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The surge of coronavirus cases is having a major impact on classrooms -- So much so, that one school instituted an emergency closure for the rest of the week.

It's the Oakland School for the Arts, which is a nonprofit charter school, and not part of the Oakland Unified School District.

"During our 7th period class teachers told us that our school would be closing for the rest of the week," said 8th grader Jayla Brown.

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That's because 20 teachers at Oakland School for the Arts are out with COVID-19 or out after having been exposed to the virus.

"Two of my teachers were out today," said 7th grader Micah Head.

"My Art teacher was gone the whole last week, and my math teacher was gone, and my English teacher was gone," said 7th Grader Zion Fort.

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There is growing concern that more Bay Area schools could return to remote learning as omicron cases rise.

In a statement the principal says in part, "We are unable to continue to provide person-to-person instruction to students and need to institute an emergency school closure for the remainder of this week."

The statement went on to say the school as "exhausted all options for obtaining staff coverage, including using all certificated staff and substitute teacher options, and consulting with the Alameda County Office of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction in determining that staffing needs cannot be met through any option."

Principal Mike Oz told ABC7 News that due to changes with the state law, they aren't able to offer distance learning at this time, that's why they made the decision to close over the next week.

"I think it's the best decision they could make. I've been here every day, but I've had to cover a few other people's classes," said Christopher Olsen, who teachers English and History at Oakland School for the Arts.

School officials tell us it is unclear if they will have to make up the days at the end of the year, but are looking into that.

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In addition to teachers out, dozens of students at the 6th through 12th grade school are also out.

"It was kind of scary too, because I wonder if they got COVID from the school and I don't want to be here if they got COVID from the school," said Fort.

The principal says the plan is to start back up in a week on Tuesday, Jan. 18. They're asking students to get tested prior to coming back and if they can't find a test, they'll be able to get one before school on that return day.

While parents are hopeful, they also don't know what to expect with this COVID surge.

"It's supposed to resume on Tuesday, next Tuesday, but we'll see," said Faith Jumal, who has a child and niece at the school.