Alameda County schools get green light to re-open schools, Oakland holds back on return date

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Alameda County elementary schools have the green light to let students back to campus this week, pending county approval.

Oakland Unified School District said it is preparing to reopen, but it hasn't given a hard date yet. Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammel said given the ever-changing nature of the pandemic, she doesn’t want to box themselves into a corner by announcing a re-opening date.

“Until we have a vaccine that works and distributes, all districts need to be able to pivot back if a school closes,” she said.

Johnson-Trammel added that the biggest barrier to reopening safely is out of their control, saying that one of the biggest roadblocks to making a deal with the teachers’ union is over testing and contact tracing, an issue bigger than the district that will require working with the county and health care providers.

Even with sufficient testing, she said she realizes parents have different levels of comfort allowing their students to return. But for 4th grader Quinn Newby, distance learning is getting old.

“In front of the computer is not as interactive,” Newby said. “I don’t get to see my friends.”

Johnson-Trammel said they have acquired adequate PPE and disinfecting equipment for when they do re-open. One of the next steps will involve talking to the teachers union to agree on a new plan.

Until an agreement with teachers is made, she said they are still all-in on distance learning.