At least a dozen masked students braved the cold and light rain outside a closed Miraloma Elementary School in San Francisco on Friday (February 19) for a “Zoom-in” protest, aimed at raising awareness about the impact of delaying a return to in-person learning for the city’s school district.
“Zoom school has been so hard for them that they’re willing to come out in the rain to show what’s going on, to show the people that don’t know, that aren’t aware how hard it has been on them. They also want to come out and be with their peers,” said Amy Karle, a parent of a 6-year-old and a volunteer organizer with the San Francisco Parent Collective known as Decreasing the Distance, which organized the protest.
So far there is no date for a return to in-person learning, as the teacher’s union and the school district negotiate what a return would look like and what protocols would be established to do so safely. Some private schools in the city have returned to in-person, but public schools in the school district remain in distance learning for elementary, middle and high schools.
Elsewhere in the Bay Area, there’s a mixture of in-person and hybrid learning in Marin, San Mateo, Contra Costa and Napa counties.
In San Francisco, the school board was due this past Tuesday to discuss a deal with the union, which involved a return to classrooms in California’s red tier status if teachers receive vaccinations or a return to classrooms under the less restrictive orange tier without teacher vaccinations. But that discussion was delayed.
Tracy Damiano brought her 5-year-old daughter Aria to the ‘Zoom-in’ on Friday.
“We’ve survived and she’s been able to focus in and do her schooling, but when I think of broadly what she’s missing, with friends and her first year of kindergarten, that experience, and just the rest of the school, kids who may not have a parent who can stay at home to help, it’s just so important to get schools open for everybody and I’m just wishing for the district to move as fast as they can to make it happen,” Damiano said.
The mayor’s office had set February 24 as a date when vaccinations can start for “people who work in the education” sector. However, the city’s COVID Command Center concedes that the “vaccine is very limited” and there may not be available doses or appointments.
(Production: Nathan Frandino)