FREMONT (KPIX) — Frustrated parents and students protested in Fremont Thursday, one day after the district announced schools will remain closed through the end of the academic year.
Standing in front of the Fremont Unified District Teachers Association waving signs in a protest that started Thursday afternoon at 3:30 p.m., parents and their kids were begging to go back to the classroom.READ MORE: 49ers Survive Wild Card Game as Time Runs Out for Cowboys in Frantic Finish
“The scapegoat in this whole scenario is the kids. Being the grownups here, we should reach a common ground,” said Fremont parent Jazna Jaleeo.
Parents told KPIX that over a year of distance learning and Zoom school is no longer working; their children are suffering academically and socially.
“I find her hiding in the closet all the time, just playing while the Zoom conference is going on,” said concerned parent Dee Veshpande. “The older one is a little more responsible, but the younger one is not and I’m worried about her. She’s falling behind.”
Despite trying to negotiate a deal to return to classrooms since October, Fremont Unified School District officials and the teachers’ union did not reach an agreement to get kids back on campus this school year. Negotiations broke down this week, with Fremont Unified Superintendent CJ Cammack making the announcement in his online newsletter Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to come to a common agreement on how to do that. We are running up against a very short timeline of days in the instructional year and that’s why we shifted our energy and attention to finding alternative ways to bring our kids back to campus,” said Cammack.READ MORE: 1 Killed, 2 Injured in Sonoma County Crash on Route 116
Among the reasons for the impasse, teachers wanted more money for working more hours under a hybrid model.
“Specifically, for the first through fifth-grade teachers in elementary, the district was asking that an additional number of hours be done each week so that they would be teaching in-person or online throughout their regular workday, but also have to do the additional preparation for distance learning,’ said Victoria Birbeck-Herrera, President of the Fremont Unified District Teachers Association
Jamie Phillips is a parent of two Fremont students who also teaches kindergarten at Harvey Green Elementary. She said it’s safe and time to get back to a classroom.
“Disneyland is opening, but we have no guarantee that our schools are going to be opening even in the fall. It’s time to stop the nonsense,” Phillips told KPIX.
By not reaching an agreement, the superintendent said that the district would miss out on $9 million in additional funding. A deal reached by the legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom offered $6.6 billion in funds to districts across the state if select groups of students resumed in-person learning by March 31.
Cammack said that the district is planning for a full return to in-person instruction in the fall. In the meantime, the district plans to expand existing in-person learning hubs and that schools would create opportunities for students to gather in groups described as “stable and appropriately sized” for social interactions.MORE NEWS: French Bulldog Stolen at Gunpoint During Castro Valley Armed Robbery
For graduating seniors, the superintendent anticipates outdoor in-person graduation ceremonies taking place with some limitations on attendance.