Oakland Unified school board proposes start date to reopen schools for in-person learning

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Oakland Unified School District School Board has proposed a March timeline for when they would like to see some schools reopen for in-person learning.

This plan has become public as both the school district and teachers are actively negotiating with their labor leaders.

In the middle of February, Oakland Unified's Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell was asked when schools might reopen now that local district teachers were being vaccinated against COVID-19.

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"Well, you're asking some great crystal ball questions that I cannot give you a definite answer," said Johnson-Trammell.

On Wednesday night, Oakland Unified officials gave more specifics on their reopening plan in a letter.

"The OUSD Board of Education now believes it is critical for the social-emotional and academic well-being of our students that Oakland Unified safely open our school sites for in-person learning by mid-to -ate-March," the district said in their statement.

The students returning to the classroom would only be Pre-K to fifth grade, and high-need students.

RELATED: San Jose elementary school teachers share distance learning struggles ahead of receiving COVID-19 vaccine

The majority of middle and high school students would not return this academic year under the school district's plan.

"We've put a lot of preparation into the return and our case rates are trending positive," says Oakland Unified School Board President Shanthi Gonzales. "We believe we'll be in the red tier next week, fingers crossed, so the last thing is to have an agreement we can all live with."

The CDC has validated the school board's recommendation and has said that schools can reopen safely nationwide with proper masks and social distancing.

Johnson-Tramell, who has received the first vaccine, doesn't disagree with the school board.

At the same time, the superintendent is still negotiating with the district's labor unions.

The teacher's union for Oakland Unified calls the proposed start date premature, insisting that not all safety measures are in place to go back.

RELATED: East Bay teacher discourages kids from in-person learning

"We're not looking at this as being something that is solely about us, we're thinking about the impact to the community," says Chaz Garcia, of the Oakland Education Association. "So while we may be vaccinated, if all these other measures aren't taken, then we could potentially be putting others at risk."

Meanwhile, Oakland Unified parents, students and some community members hope to make their voices heard at a rally this Sunday at Astro Park.

The event will start at 12 p.m.

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