Oakland Unified students returning to in-person learning

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- After 17 months of online classes the date is set, the signs are up and the empty classrooms are ready to welcome back students.

"We are very excited, it's been a long haul waiting for this day," said Yve Saville, Parent and Oakland teacher.

Among those students are 12-year-old Tula and her 10-year-old brother Jude. Their mom Yve Saville says they've been looking forward to Monday, especially Tula who is vaccinated.

"My oldest is really excited to be back, she is very social and my younger one is a little bit hesitant but I think he will be really happy once he is back," said Saville.

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The school district says masks will be required at all times inside their buildings but vaccines will not be mandated for teacher or students. In case a student tests positive for COVID they have a plan.

"That student will have to isolate at home quarantine for 14 days but then beyond that anyone who might have been exposed can stay in class as long as they get tested twice if they don't have any symptoms," said John Sasaki with the Oakland Unified School District.

Out of 36,000 students, OUSD says about 850 will continue online classes.

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"We've gone through a year and a half of doing everything we could to get students the best education possible and to throw all that away weeks or months before they themselves can get a vaccine I think it's cruel, I think it's wrong," said OUSD teacher Adarene Hoag.

One of the teachers who will remain on zoom is Mark Airgood.

"I don't want to go back myself but I don't want to have any part of bringing children back to these campuses," said Airgood.

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We brought these concerns to Dr. David Cornfield, Chief of Pulmonary, Asthma, and Sleep Medicine and medical director of respiratory therapy at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford.

"Even though there are increasing rates of hospitalizations among children who have the COVID-19 infection, those rates remain low," said Dr. Cornfield.
Dr. Cornfield says the best way children can be protected is by wearing a mask and get vaccinated if they are 12 and older.

Luz Pena: "Let's paint the scenario, tomorrow children are going to go back to in-person classes in Oakland and they are going to be in a classroom of maybe 30 other children with a teacher who is vaccinated. Are they at risk?"

Dr. Cornfield: "I think everyone who is not vaccinated is at risk... I think most of us believe that the benefits of school far outweigh the risks of an individual's COVID-19 infection."

Dr. Cornfield is also urging parents to get vaccinated to protect everyone at home.

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