Frequently-asked strike questions: what students need to know
By the Aegis Staff
With a teacher strike most likely starting Thursday, Feb. 21, students are sure to have lots of questions. Here are the answers to some of the questions that we’re hearing around Oakland High.
Why won’t my teachers be in class?
Teachers and other members of the Oakland Education Association are planning to strike (take unpaid time off of work to protest) because OUSD and OEA have not settled on a contract. The OEA is asking for smaller classes, more school services, and higher pay.
Schools will be open during a strike, but according to an OUSD email, “it will not be ‘school as usual.'”
What can students do during a strike?
They can either go to school, not go to school, go to solidarity sites such as rec centers or libraries, or protest along with the teachers.
Students can join picket lines, but should discuss plans with their families first, said teacher and OEA union rep Miles Murray. Strike picketing will begin in front of Oakland High on Thursday morning from 6:30 – 10:30, Murray said. At 10:30, there will be a march to Oscar Grant/Frank Ogawa Plaza. Picketers will return to Oakland High for the end of the school day.
What will happen with the Feb. 22 Winter Ball?
According to Leadership teacher Jenn Howard, the ball will still happen regardless of a strike. The ball, called A Night in Disguise, will take place at the Jack London Aquatic Center on Feb. 22, starting at 7 p.m. As of Feb. 20, tickets to the event were sold out.
What will happen with Hairspray?
The Oakland High production of the musical Hairspray is currently scheduled for March 1 & 2, but if the strike goes into the week of Feb. 25, the performance dates will be postponed, said director Chris Johnston.
What does the strike mean for our grades, school year, and graduation?
Teachers will have to reschedule their curriculum if they choose to strike, said principal Matin Abdel-qawi during Tuesday’s Delegate Assembly. He said students’ grades would not be affected by their decision to attend or not attend school during a strike. Abdel, who said that he supports teachers 100%, added that a strike will not cause graduation dates to change, and that it will not cause the school year to be extended.
Most teachers will wait to submit Marking Period 4 grades until the strike is over, said Murray.
Will Senior Project deadlines change?
Senior Seminar teachers said there are no planned changes to Senior Project deadlines, but added that the timeline may change in the future depending on the length of the strike.
Will the Wellness Center be open during a strike?
The EBAYC staff who usually work at the Wellness Center will not be working in the Center during a strike, said Luc Soriano. According to Wellness Center Director Rany Ath, students can continue to receive Wellness services at other locations during a strike. See the Wellness Center’s letter about alternative service locations here.
Where can I get food?
During a strike, lunch and supper will still be served from the OHS cafeteria at the usual times.
Students who will not be attending school can get food at distribution points in front of school, according to Murray. Some local rec centers will also serve free meals during a strike.
How will a strike affect my attendance and my Oakland Promise scholarship eligibility?
Students’ Oakland Promise scholarship eligibility will not be affected by the strike. Official strike dates will not be counted toward the Oakland Promise scholarship’s attendance requirement, said the Future Center’s Jennifer Ferguson. According to an email from the East Bay College Fund, “East Bay College Fund will not be penalizing students who choose to participate in the strike. While we do require that students maintain 90% attendance in their senior year to receive the scholarship, we will be waiving any absences during the official strike period. We will also be waiving absences from the student sick-out that occurred on February 8th, 2019. We will not waive any unexcused absences before or after an official teachers strike, or if the strike is cancelled.”
The East Bay College Fund noted that following items “are required for the Oakland Promise scholarship” on these dates:
The Future Center is still encouraging students to come to school, said college adviser Karen Baccaro. Baccaro said that OUSD receives money from student’s attendance. They also lose money for every student who doesn’t come to school.
How long will a strike last?
No one knows. “We hope [OUSD] will act quickly so we can get back to our classrooms,” said Murray.