School protest: Berkeley parents demand return to in-person instruction

Bay Area

BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) — Berkeley elementary school parents planned a sit-in for Wednesday morning, demanding officials to reopen schools for in-person learning.

The parents picked Thousand Oaks Elementary School for the protest, where Vice President-elect Kamala Harris attended as a child.

It’s been ten months since students have been in their classrooms — frustrating dozens of parents and students.

Organizers say this will be a quiet and socially-distanced protest, with people gathering in front of the school with signs. Students plan to sit in the school yard in social distanced circles writing letters asking government officials to reopen schools.

Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced a plan to support the return of in-person instruction, but he also said he won’t make schools go back if teachers unions refuse to.

The Berkeley Unified School District gave KRON4 the following statement on the protest:

“The District continues to work to reopen our school campuses in a hybrid model that will balance families’ differing needs at the point that state and county health officials indicate that it is safe. We continue to host small cohorts for targeted support at three elementary schools and athletic conditioning at Berkeley High School and are evaluating opportunities to expand this program.

We understand the frustration parents feel.  It’s important that we hear all community voices as we work to negotiate a hybrid learning model with our labor partners that will allow familles a choice regarding when, and under what conditions, their students return to in-person  learning. 

In a November 2020 survey, 46 percent of parents and guardians indicated they were ready for their student to return to elementary school on-campus learning in a hybrid model as soon as possible, while 32% said they were not ready to return, and 22 percent indicated they were unsure.  Local COVID-19 conditions have deteriorated since then. Our goal is to get our students and educators back on campus.  Currently, due to the surge in local COVID conditions, our schools cannot reopen.”

Berkeley Unified School District on Jan. 13, 2021

KRON4 will speak to parents at the protest, which is set to begin at 8:45 a.m.

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