San Jose mayor says in-person instruction crucial for communities of color
SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is calling for schools to resume in-person learning.
He said it’s best for everyone, especially those people in communities of color.
Liccardo is using his new nonprofit to push for in-person instruction.
"We can act here locally. We have the ability now, and the county has indicated teachers can become vaccinated," he said.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, the mayor pushed the idea he first floated in his recently formed nonprofit "Solutions San Jose.
The idea has broad support, especially with parents.
"As a mother, I would like schools to reopen as it is very important to not only me but my community," said one woman.
Under the mayor’s multi-point plan, vaccinations will first be made available to elementary school teachers with a focus on communities of color.
Experts said those communities are most harmed by the COVID-fueled distance learning.
"They are missing out on some pier negotiation skills, problem-solving skills, and just those general social skills that we would normally see them develop," said Dr. Melissa Whitson, a University of New Haven child psychologist.
Just as Liccardo wrapped up his news conference, the San Jose Unified School District superintendent arrived and said opening isn’t as easy as people think.
"In the city of San Jose, there are 19 school districts. And every school district has its unique contracts. It has its employees. It has its school board," said SJUSD superintendent Nancy Albarran.
A point-in-case is the Alum Rock Union School District. It has over 8,800 students who are doing distance learning. Those who are struggling are allowed in-person support at "care pods."
The district's school board president said Liccardo never asked what the school district needs to resume in-person learning for all students.
"From one side of the city to the east side, top-down decisions might not work well because it’s cookie-cutter that we want to put in place across the city. And so it’s important to talk to the leadership of those that are being affected," said board chairwoman Corina Herrera-Loera. Countered Liccardo, "Let’s ensure the children who need to get into the classroom, can do so."
The mayor pointed to studies locally and abroad that show the risk of COVID infection from students is very low.
So far, he said more than 3,200 people have signed his "Solutions San Jose" petition to have schools return to in-person learning.