Concerned parents are participating in Zoom Out virtual protests Sept. 28 through Oct. 2 to boycott remote education and demand statewide reopening of schools in a movement started by the Facebook group “Reopen California Schools.”
The Zoom Out protests consist of students stepping out of their virtual sessions for the week-long period to protest remote-learning, which has been ongoing in most of California due to the pandemic since mid-March. Some students are only participating one day and parents said they have reached out to teachers to get the school work in advance so their children will not fall behind, according to reports by CBS.
“I often get asked by parents what they can do to help get their kids back in school,” said Jonathan Zachreson, a father of two, who serves as the administrator of the Facebook group with more than 7,400 members. “They feel so powerless. We need to give families a choice.”
Zachreson, who checks in on his eighth grader and high schooler while they take Zoom classes at home throughout the day, said the biggest issue with remote education is keeping kids engaged.
“Several times, the two kids in the breakout room aren’t communicating, just a 15-minute period of nothing happening,” he said. “You don’t know if they’re learning. You don’t know if they’re struggling. It’s not until you get the poor grades that you realize that something’s wrong.”
Lucia Moon, a single mother of a 15-year-old, shared a similar concern about engagement and the lack of motivation for her daughter, a student at John Marshall High School in Los Feliz, who currently takes Zoom classes at home.
“My child is an A student, honor class child and very social,” Moon said, “but I do not hear her initiating any conversation from her room when she’s on Zoom. I can even catch her sometimes wandering off Zoom and doing things on the side and the teacher just talking.”
Because Moon works as a therapist for children and adults, she said she has seen the depression and anxiety caused by school lockdowns. She added that she has been a daily witness to the struggle the COVID-19 pandemic brought for children’s socialization.
“Parents are furious,” Moon said, adding that the purpose of school education is beyond learning information and getting tested. “We send our children to school to socialize, to learn communication skills, coping strategies when peer conflict arises.”
Both Zachreson and Moon mentioned a local parent Facebook group called the “United Parents of Los Angeles” that organizes similar campaigns, including a rally scheduled for Oct. 24 at Los Angeles City Hall to call for the reopening of schools.
Despite parents' ongoing demand to resume in-person teaching, Gov. Gavin Newsom has repeatedly said that “health data will determine when a school can physically open.”
“We recognize that Gavin Newsom is enemy number one in keeping our kids out of school,” Zachreson said, adding that he encourages others who agree to sign a petition to recall Newsom.
Moon called the Zoom Out protests “a victory in its own,” saying parents were making the decision to future generations. “Virtual learning may provide book-smart education, but it will never provide emotional maturity, serendipitous experience or those aha moments, which can only happen through an in-person education.”
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to allow public school districts and private schools to apply for reopening waivers, according to reports by CBS.