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New school year begins online for students, teachers in Oakland

Bay Area

OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – Teachers, students and parents in Oakland are embarking on uncharted ground as the first day of the new school year begins with distance learning. 

All this is happening against the backdrop of collective bargaining negotiations between the district and the teachers union.

“We’re meeting with ourselves tonight because we received a counteroffer late in the evening yesterday,” Chaz Garcia said. 

Contract negotiations between the Oakland Unified School District and the union representing Oakland teachers are moving into a second month.

However, Chaz Garcia of the Oakland Education Association’s bargaining team says the two sides are getting closer to a deal.

“We’re getting closer. There was somewhat of a stalemate at one point but there has been some movement and that’s encouraging,” Garcia said. 

She says some of the remaining sticking points are scheduling for secondary schools and employing substitute teachers.

“And training is really important as well because a lot of our teachers spent a significant amount of time doing tech support. That is where having another adult with support for instruction is really helpful because the learning isn’t slowed down dealing with tech support. Learning can continue while someone can help students along the way,” Garcia said. 

How does she describe the collective bargaining atmosphere after a little over two months of negotiating?

“It really hasn’t been contentious but we’re not singing songs together or anything like that,” Garcia said. 

Again last night the union received a counter offer from the school district. 

Garcia says the negotiating team will likely review that offer later tonight with both sides likely returning to the bargaining table sometime within the next 24 to 48 hours.

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