OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Officials with the Oakland Unified School District Friday said students will be learning from home for the foreseeable future as the new school year begins Monday.
Board President Jody London expressed optimism Friday afternoon at a news briefing about the coming year.
“We’re going to get there,” London said. “We’re going to make it work.”
Yet negotiations with the teacher’s union were still on Friday over how students will be learning. As of 3:30 p.m., an agreement had not been announced.
Part of the back and forth has been about how much “daily live interaction” will be required between teachers and students.
“Teachers are more prepared to do it online because we’ve already done it,” said OUSD teacher Sarah Bin.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said if a county is on his watch list for COVID-19, schools must conduct distance rather than in-person learning. Alameda County remains on the watch list.
As part of the new ‘Strong Start’ program, there will be live interaction between students and teachers called “synchronous” learning and pre-recorded or “asynchronous lessons” provided online, or via paper packets.
The Oakland Unified School District is pushing for more live instruction and for more “asynchronous teaching” time than the union is currently proposing, which meets the state’s minimum requirements.
One example, the union is proposing 60 minutes of live teaching, and 120 minutes of asynchronous lessons for kindergarteners.
But OUSD is demanding 105 minutes for live instruction and 105 minutes of asynchronous teaching.
“When it comes to details of what the first day and successive days next week will look like, I would suggest reaching out to principals, teachers, and school site staff,” said OUSD spokesperson John Sasaki.
Many teachers say they will start each day with live interaction.
“The teachers are really going to be focus on building communities with their families and getting to know their students. It will be a different experience,” said Bin.
The first few weeks will be spent welcoming students and families, assessing student skills, and virtual home visits to guide parents for distance learning.
School officials said very little about what next week will look like for students because that is part of the negotiations. The officials told parents to call their student’s school, teacher or principal for information.
“Grab and Go” meals that were provided for students over the summer will continue this fall at more than 20 locations. But, this fall, meals will be limited to OUSD students and adults in the young adult program because of federal restrictions,” Sasaki said.
Since March 16, when school campuses closed to in-person instruction, the program has served 3.9 million meals. Over the summer, meals were available to any Oakland child 18 years old and under.
The meal program will begin again on Monday. More information can be found at www.ousd.org/covid-19studentmeals. Families are urged to wear a mask when picking up food.
New computers for every student that needs one were ordered in June and should be distributed by the end of September. The computers, 25,000 in all, are being distributed through the #OaklandUndivided Campaign. They’ve given out 13,000 so far to qualifying students.
“What a great partnership with the city,” London said.
Acquiring the computers has been somewhat hampered by supply chain constraints as many school districts across the country are seeking computers for their students, Sasaki said.
Students will get to keep the new computers they receive. Any computer that they have received as a loaner must be returned to receive a new one. Sasaki said students who need to borrow a computer should contact their school.
The district is also working with T-Mobile and Comcast to provide
hotspots or broadband Internet access, if necessary, so students can get on the web. Getting technology for teachers who need it is also something school district officials are working on.
Attendance is mandatory for students for every class, every day, according to Sasaki.
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