SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo waded into the battle over reopening schools, urging the leaders of the numerous school districts covering the city to find ways to accelerate the reopening of campuses for in-person learning.

“Schools can be open — elementary schools — and teachers and staff and children kept safe even without vaccinations,” Liccardo said at a press conference Thursday in front of the padlocked gates of Horace Mann Elementary.

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The challenge for Liccardo and parents calling for the resumption of in-person learning in San Jose is daunting. In the city of San Jose, there are 19 different school districts — each with their own leadership and reopening plans.

Parents seeking the reopening of classrooms are complaining that online learning just doesn’t compare to in-person instruction and are worried that their children are falling behind academically and suffering socially and physically.

“As a mother, I want schools to reopen. It’s important not only for me as a mother but for my community that all the children are performing at their academic grade level,” said parent Sofia Santos through a Spanish-language interpreter.

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San Jose Unified School District is the largest school system in the city with nearly 30,000 students and nearly 4,000 employees.

The district negotiated a deal with the teacher’s union in January that required the county to enter the Orange tier or all teachers to be vaccinated before returning to classroom. As of Thursday, the county is in the Purple Tier in the state’s reopening plan, but could move into the Red Tier as soon as next week.

San Jose Unified superintendent Nancy Albarran said the district will honor the deal even if it likely delays reopening for another month to six weeks.

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“When you negotiate and sign, it’s an agreement and you honor that agreement. We had that agreement in place prior to the CDC’s most recent announcement,” Albarran told KPIX 5.