CUPERTINO (KPIX 5) — A group of parents gathered at the Cupertino Union School District offices Tuesday to request a distance learning option as COVID cases continue to surge.

Faria Elementary School is fully back to in-person learning and hundreds of students and their parents crowd the sidewalks
when the final bell rings. Although everyone is wearing a mask, some parents are growing more nervous about having their kids back in school.

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“We are very scared of the increasing cases around. Our kids are not vaccinated, and we do not want them to get exposed to that,” said parent Mamatha Omprakash, who has two children in the district.

Vaccines are still not available to children under 12, and COVID cases in the state among children under 17 spiked to 65,000 last month, up from just under 5,000 in June according to the California Department of Public Health.

Omprakash was one of about a dozen parents who gathered at the district headquarters to meet with the superintendent to press for a online learning option. After a year when many parents around the country were demanding a return to the classroom, these parents want to now keep their kids home.

“There are so many unknowns about the delta variant, we thought it is better to be on the safe side and watch for a few months and wait for the vaccines to come and hope that the situation gets better,” said parent Sapna Rao.

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The district says it’s not that easy. Distance learning was controlled by the state and those funds ran out. Students can enroll in a district home study program, but it’s not the teacher-led distance learning they had last year.

“The parent is really the teacher. Our teachers are there to support and guide,” said district spokesperson Erin Lindsey.

Many parents say they can’t do that because they also work. Families would also have to give up their spots in highly competitive
schools – many of which have lotteries to get in – if they go to home study.

“If they decide to come back, after vaccination or after a few months, they should have the spot in their home school or alternate school,” said Srinivas Ponnala, a parent who attended Tuesday’s meeting.

Parents and the district are working solving some of the issues, but the district’s stance is that in-person learning is here to stay.

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“Cupertino believes that our schools are open for safe teaching and learning to happen on a daily basis,” Lindsey said.