By Betty Yu

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Families who say they have had enough of distance learning are calling on students to log off statewide for a full week to protest the continuing closure of public schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The planned weeklong protest is starting Monday, September 28, and is set to go until October 2.

“With distance learning, you can’t just ask the teacher to help you,” said student Nicholas Han.

His mother Syndie Ly has four children who have all been learning at home. But this week, they plan to participate in the “Zoom out.” Ly helped organize the strike through the Facebook group Reopen California Schools. It now has more than 6,800 members.

Ly spoke to KPIX 5 about some of the challenges her sons are experiencing.

“It’s very difficult to take AP classes doing distance learning twice a week. You can’t possibly do AP classes doing distance learning,” she said. “With regards to my middle school, he has expressed a bit of depression.”

Most of the state’s K-12 schools did not reopen classrooms when the academic year began. To reopen schools, counties must first move from the purple to the less restrictive red tier. In many cases, districts then have to renegotiate terms with teachers unions before making a decision.

COVID-19 cases have remained fairly low across the Bay Area. But last week, state public health officials warned that hospitalizations could dramatically increase over the next month. Many of these cases could be tied to Labor Day outings. Flu season is also on the horizon.

Discovery Bay resident Amanda Dove has two teenage sons who attend school in Brentwood. She says one of them will be taking part in the Zoom out.

“Silence implies consent. And if nobody is speaking and the districts think, ‘Well, we’re not hearing anything from the students. We’re not hearing from the families. They must be okay,'” she said. “Maybe the only way they can hear us is if we blackout our Zoom.”

The group says some students are participating in the protest for just one day, while others will sit out the entire week. Parents said they have reached out to teachers ahead of time to get the school work for the week, so their kids don’t fall behind during the Zoom out.

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