Parents and children march to reopen schools

Augustine and Paloma Gessner hold signs and march with their mother, Francesca, hoping that their local kindergarten can open for Augustine to attend school in-person. (Samantha Laurey/Special to SF Examiner)
Augustine and Paloma Gessner hold signs and march with their mother, Francesca. They hope that their local kindergarten can open intime for Augustine to attend school in-person. (Samantha Laurey/Special to SF Examiner)Augustine and Paloma Gessner hold signs and march with their mother, Francesca. They hope that their local kindergarten can open intime for Augustine to attend school in-person. (Samantha Laurey/Special to SF Examiner)
Kids hold signs as they prepare to march from the front of City Hall to SFUSD offices at 555 Franklin St. (Samantha Laurey/Special to SF Examiner)Kids hold signs as they prepare to march from the front of City Hall to SFUSD offices at 555 Franklin St. (Samantha Laurey/Special to SF Examiner)
A recently-formed parent collective, Decreasing the Distance, organized march around City Hall in the hopes of persuading school officials to sign a labor agreement by Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021 that would allow them to safely reopen schools. (Samantha Laurey/Special to SF Examiner)A recently-formed parent collective, Decreasing the Distance, organized march around City Hall in the hopes of persuading school officials to sign a labor agreement by Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021 that would allow them to safely reopen schools. (Samantha Laurey/Special to SF Examiner)
Raquell Thomas walks her mom, Jennifer Sam, in support of Decreasing the Distance who held a march from City Hall to the SFUSD building to voice of their concerns for young students learning from home and continue to spread the message during their march around City Hall. (Samantha Laurey/Special to SF Examiner)
A recently-formed parent collective, Decreasing the Distance, marched with children around the streets of City Hall on Saturday. (Samantha Laurey/Special to SF Examiner)A recently-formed parent collective, Decreasing the Distance, marched with children around the streets of City Hall on Saturday. (Samantha Laurey/Special to SF Examiner)
Young girl marches along McAllister St with her parents joining many others who wish for schools to reopen.(Samantha Laurey/Special to SF Examiner)
A parent collective, Decreasing the Distance, march with children around the streets of City Hall with the hopes of persuading school officials to sign an agreement by Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, to safely reopen schools. (Samantha Laurey/Special to SF Examiner)
A parent collective, Decreasing the Distance, held a march from City Hall to the SFUSD building to voice of their concerns for young students learning from home and continue to spread the message during their march around City Hall. (Samantha Laurey/Special to SF Examiner)
Children walk alongside their parents in hopes that they can convince government officials to approve reopening their schools. Alongside marching around City Hall, the SF parent collective created an open letter to sign in support of reopening schools in the SFUSD. (Samantha Laurey/Special to SF Examiner)
A parent collective, Decreasing the Distance, held a march from City Hall to the SFUSD building to voice of their concerns for young students learning from home and continue to spread the message during their march around City Hall. (Samantha Laurey/Special to SF Examiner)
A parent collective, Decreasing the Distance, held a march from City Hall to the SFUSD building to voice of their concerns for young students learning from home and continue to spread the message during their march around City Hall. (Samantha Laurey/Special to SF Examiner)
A parent collective, Decreasing the Distance, march around the streets of City Hall with the hopes of persuading school officials to sign an agreement by Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, to safely reopen schools. (Samantha Laurey/Special to SF Examiner)

A large crowd of parents and children marched from San Francisco City Hall to San Francisco Unified School Distrait offices on Franklin Street Saturday to call for a return to in-person teaching.

The protest, organized by the recently formed group Decreasing the Distance, demonstrated the growing pressure on the district to reopen classrooms, ten months after it switched to distance learning to help contain the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

The School Board has increasingly come under fire for slow progress toward reopening, as private schools and some districts in other counties return to the classroom, and for efforts to address other priorities such as the renaming of schools. Data shows some learning disparities have increased during distance learning, and many parents say their children and families are struggling emotionally and academically.

District officials had at one point set a target date of Jan. 25 to bring the first wave of students back, but postponed that date after they said they were unable to reach an agreement with labor groups. Most recently, they have said they need to reach an agreement by Feb. 18 to begin reopening by March 25. Even then, however, progress will be limited to a small group of the youngest and most vulnerable students, and the district has said there is little chance of middle school and high school students returning this school year.

The pressure increased Wednesday, when City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a lawsuit with the support of Mayor London Breed arguing the district does not have an adequate reopening plan as required under state law.

District unions on Friday said that their current proposal calls for classrooms to reopen when The City returns to the “red” risk tier, as defined by state health officials, so long as district employees have access to vaccines and other safety precautions are addressed. Right now San Francisco is in the highest, “purple” risk tier, and it is unclear when it will drop to red.

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