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Richmond High teachers stage “sick out” to protest protocols

N-95 mask ritika singh.jpg
Alamosa County Public Health
Flickr / Creative Commons

Richmond High's sick-out was one of several across the district this month as teachers and students returned from winter break amid the Omicron surge.

An online petition to West Contra Costa Unified superintendent Chris Hurst and school board members, mentioned concerns about the school's high number of COVID cases and quarantine absences, a lack of contact tracing and safety guidance.

The Richmond High teachers said the school’s main building does not have any windows, and class sizes do not allow for adequate social distancing. Their petition also cites a lack of adequate air purifying systems and clean filters in their buildings.

Teachers also said their community is experiencing the pandemic differently than neighboring communities with more resources, like El Cerrito, Hercules and Pinole Valley. The petition says Richmond High School – a school situated in a primarily working-class community of color – “has different needs that are being ignored by our district."

Richmond High teachers are demanding a number of steps. They include: calling on the district to increase testing sites; offer twice-a-week PCR and rapid testing; and provide more at-home tests, personal protective equipment, like KN95 and N95 masks, to the community.

They also want the district to form an official COVID team, to make sure students stuck at home with the virus have equitable accommodations.

District officials weren't able to immediately provide Wednesday's attendance rate.

Sunni M. Khalid is a veteran of more than 40 years in journalism, having worked in print, radio, television, and web journalism.