BOARD WATCH: Back to school COVID updates


For more, click here for the full agenda.

You can join the meeting in-person at La Escuelita Education Center (1050 2nd Avenue, Oakland, CA) or watch the Zoom meeting by clicking on this link at 5:30pm or by calling (669) 900-9128, then entering the Webinar ID  87883718415, then pressing “#”.

Item #21-1868

Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell has served as Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District for the last 4 years (since July 1, 2017). Her current contract is due to expire on June 30, 2023. Tonight, the Board President Shanthi Gonzales and Vice President Sam Davis are proposing to extend her contract through June 30, 2025, a total of 8 years as Superintendent.

Leadership stability matters now more than ever. If this extension is approved, Superintendent Johnson-Trammell will be the longest serving superintendent since 1970. No superintendent has served more than 5 years since then. The district must ensure leadership stability during this COVID recovery period to maintain cohesion, focus on the needs of students, and ensure long-term improvement in student outcomes. The Learning Policy Institute research found that stable district leadership is an essential ingredient for effective school reform and plays a critical role in stable school leadership, which improves teacher retention and quality which, in turn, improves student learning.

Item #21-1773

In tonight’s first Superintendent’s Report of the 2021-22 school year, Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell will be sharing updates on the following: 

  • COVID Safety: Information about vaccine pop-ups, testing sites, outdoor learning spaces, contact tracing and case monitoring protocols.
  • Independent Study (Distance Learning Option): Information on how many students opted into independent study, live interaction and synchronous instruction requirements, system to re-engage students/families not participating, and more. 
  • Professional Learning Highlights: Highlights from this summer’s professional learning opportunities such as the New Employee Welcome, Leadership Institute for principals and assistant principals, and the New Teacher Institute for teachers in their first 2 years.
  • In-Person Summer School: Updates on how many students participated and next steps to identify lessons learned, and summer internship updates.

Item #21-1889

Because of the rising cases of COVID-19 (and Delta variant), OUSD must prioritize the safety of students, families, and staff. Currently, the guidance provided by federal, state, and county health officials does not require that testing be offered at each school site and the District is not currently offering COVID tests to all students and staff at each school. In fact, OUSD is only offering COVID-testing at 10 school sites across the city. 

Tonight, Board Director Mike Hutchinson is introducing a policy that would require OUSD to offer COVID testing at each school consistent with the following parameters: 

  • Tests shall be offered to all students and staff
  • Tests shall be offered on a weekly basis
  • Tests shall be offered to all students and staff regardless of vaccination status, and
  • Students and staff shall not be required to take the test unless it is recommended pursuant to public health guidance.

Offering COVID-19 tests at every school site will have financial implications, but those have not yet been identified. 

Item #21-1890

OUSD is offering distance learning for families that don’t feel comfortable sending their children back to school  in person due to health and safety reasons and/or cannot accommodate the in-person schedules due to COVID. The District is offering independent study (distance learning) with Sojourner Truth, which is its own separate school. Students must transfer to Sojourner Truth in order to participate in independent study, which means students would no longer be enrolled in their “in-person” schools as they cannot be enrolled in two schools at the same time. Board Vice President Sam Davis says: “Unfortunately, it would be extremely costly to offer distance learning at every school, and state law requires that a student can only be enrolled in one school at a time, so choosing independent study requires giving up your spot at your current school.”

Tonight, Board Director Mike Hutchinson is proposing that a student enrolled in Sojourner Truth is able to transfer back to their “in-person” school consistent with the following parameters:

  • A student shall be able to transfer back to their “in-person” school at any time during the 2021-22 and for the start of the 2022-23 school year
  • A student’s “in-person” school shall be the OUSD school in which they were enrolled prior to transferring to Sojourner Truth
  • No other students may be permitted to transfer into the “in-person” school if it would prohibit a student enrolled in Sojourner Truth from transferring back to their “in-person” school
  • Any decrease in enrollment and ADA from (i) a student enrolling in Sojourner Truth and (ii) no student being able to replace that Sojourner Truth student at the “in-person” school may not be a basis to decrease staffing or funding at the “in-person” school
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