San Jose Community Leaders Advocate for Return to In-Person Learning

Mayor Liccardo, Parents and Medical Leaders Urge Local Collaboration to Safely Re-Open Schools
SAN JOSÉ, CA – Today, Mayor Sam Liccardo was joined by community members, parents, and a family medicine physician to urge collaboration at a local level to safely re-open schools, prioritizing vaccinating teachers to get students back in their K-5 classrooms. Too many families, especially among the most underserved neighborhoods in our community, are facing the terrible choice of caring for their children at home or working to support them financially.
“Throughout this pandemic, public health authorities have urged us to follow the science,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, “yet when it comes to safely opening our schools, it’s politics–not science–that has closed our schools and abandoned our poorest kids, all while opening bars, card clubs, and marijuana dispensaries. Governor Newsom is right: Sacramento needs to move much more quickly to open schools.  We can do better — and we’re proposing specific actions that we can take locally to open schools, without waiting for the legislature to act.”
School re-opening must prioritize those serving our most underserved children. Studies show that remote learning most severely impacts students from low-income families. Although San Jose has taken enormous strides to close the digital divide and connect more than 100,000 people, schools provide much-needed resources for students they can’t get at home: free meals, mental health assistance, special needs support, counseling, mandated reporting, and support for overburdened parents who must choose to support their children academically at home or financially at work.
“It is imperative that we safely re-open schools for in-person learning as soon as possible. We should prioritize teachers and low-income people of color to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, and support schools with safe reopening procedures,” Dr. Angela Bymaster, M.D., FAAFP, Family Physician, Healing Grove Health Center. “Every day in my practice I see low-income students of color falling further and further behind in school as they struggle with high-density housing, digital connectivity, and poverty. Education disparity grows with each passing day that low-income students are not attending in-person school.”
The Mayor continues to vocalize the need for local cooperation between elected leaders, the county, school districts and teacher’s unions to safely re-open schools. Top medical experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, U.S. Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Rochelle Wollensky, and top California Department of Public Health officials continue to say that schools — especially K-5— can safely reopen without vaccinating teachers. Although the science is saying teachers don’t need to be vaccinated, Mayor Liccardo is advocating that teachers and staff be prioritized, quickly, for vaccination paired with a mandate to re-open schools once completed.  
“In the debate over school re-openings, we hear only the voices of adults. Our struggling children should not forgive us if we fail to hear theirs,” concluded Mayor Liccardo.