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San Juan Unified students, parents hold 'sit-in' for a return to in-person learning

Parents who organized the sit-ins say that since the CDC says schools can safely reopen, they feel like their kids should get back to the classroom.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — Students and parents in the San Juan Unified School District in Sacramento held a “sit-in” rally Tuesday morning.

The students took their virtual learning to the sidewalks of three district schools and the district offices, bringing tables, chairs and signs to push for a return to in-person learning.

Parents who organized the sit-ins say that since the CDC says schools can safely reopen, they feel the time is now for their kids to get back to the classroom as many of their students continue to struggle with online learning.

“It's boring and it can be hard because sometimes on Zoom the internet can get bad,” Kamryn Russell, a third grade student said while sitting outside Oakview Community School. “I never actually got to meet my teacher this year, so I’m kind of disappointed.”

Lauren Johnson, a mother of two, with one child in the San Juan Unified School District worked as a substitute teacher in her children’s school district. She says she quit due to the frustration she felt as to how the district was handling the return to in-person learning.

“My kids do have the luxury of having a parent be able to stay home and have a background in education, but there are so many kids in our district who don't have that luxury,” Johnson said.

ABC10 reached out to the San Juan Unified School District, who sent this statement:

We have heard our students, parents, community and staff members as they've shared their pain, frustrations, fears and their hopes with us. We are all anxious for our students, teachers and staff to be able to return to learning inside classrooms together. It's important that they know all of our staff are working tirelessly to make that day a reality as soon as it is safe and allowable to do so. 

We have implemented multiple levels of safety from enhanced cleaning to protective barriers and the implementation of all health guidance including the use of face coverings. While we've been able to allow small groups of students in specific programs to return for in-person support, current state guidance has prevented us from offering a return until very recently for our K-6 grades and still prevents a return for grades 7-12. 

We are fortunate to have had an agreement in place to offer the option to return to in-person learning for ALL grade levels once Sacramento County reaches the red tier of the state's COVID-19 risk assessment system. We are encouraged by recent progress in the health metrics that show us on track to move into that red tier in the coming weeks and are committed to being ready to welcome students back.

For the students who participated in Tuesday’s sit-ins and continue to learn from home, the time to reopen cannot come soon enough.

“I definitely thought we were going to open up this year,” Russell said. “But we didn't and I was really sad.”

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