Los Angeles Parents Hold ‘Zoom Blackout’ to Protest School Closures

Los Angeles Parents Hold ‘Zoom Blackout’ to Protest School Closures
Small toy figures are displayed in front of a Zoom logo in this illustration taken on March 19, 2020. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)
Isabel van Brugen

Parents with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) held a “Zoom blackout” on Monday in a bid to pressure the district to reopen schools for in-person learning amid the CCP virus pandemic.

The effort, which began Monday, was organized as part of a separate protest in the district with the help of parent Cynthia Rojas, who told “Fox & Friends” that she feels “there is a really big urgency to get our kids back in school.”

A flyer promoting the blackout effort was released on social media last week, and encouraged parents not to sign into their Zoom classes beginning Feb. 22, and to continue “for as many days as it takes.”

It suggested parents instead bring their children to walk as part of a larger protest outside the federal building on Wilshire Blvd.

“Enough is enough! We can no longer sit by and wait for UTLA to come up with more excuses to keep our schools closed,” the flyer said.

Despite pressure from some parents to reopen schools in the district, the district’s teachers’ union has maintained that school teachers and staff be vaccinated against COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, before reopening for in-person learning.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said in its guidance that schools can reopen safely without teachers being vaccinated if proper precautions are taken, noting research suggesting that schools that have already resumed in-person learning haven’t seen a large corresponding increase in COVID-19 cases in their areas. President Joe Biden has urged states to prioritize teachers for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Elsewhere in the county, some schools are reopening for teaching students up to the sixth grade. Separately, beginning next week, other schools will reopen for some services for a small number of students with special needs.

Supt. Austin Beutner has previously mentioned a reopening date of “no later than April 9,” given that the county has adequate access to COVID-19 vaccines.

“In anticipation of a more complete reopening of schools in April, we will begin next week to offer child care, one-on-one and small group instruction, services for students with special needs, and a return to athletic conditioning,” Beutner announced on Monday.

Rojas said that parents are growing increasingly frustrated because they “don’t have a seat at the table” when it comes to the negotiations between LAUSD and United Teachers Los Angeles.

“[W]e’ve been trying the standard calling and voicemails and emails but it’s not working,“ she added. ”And so I’m part of a group of just parents who are just really frustrated.”

Rojas told the Los Angeles Times that her five-year-old daughter struggled taking online kindergarten classes with Coeur d’Alene Avenue Elementary School in Venice.

“My daughter did Zoom for a week,” Rojas said. “And after 20 minutes every day, she’d start crying.”

One LAUSD student told FOX 11 that it has been hard to stay focused and motivated taking classes on Zoom every day.

“What I want to do today is get everybody back in school—not just me but the little kids too because I feel like it’s harder for them than me,” the student said.

There have been nearly 50,000 recorded COVID-19 deaths in California and more than 3.5 million total cases.

CDC officials earlier released a summary of recent studies that looked at the effect of school reopenings on transmission of COVID-19.

Research both inside and outside the United States shows “little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission,” they said.