California city council member wants lawsuit against district for school shutdowns, says they ignore science

A Fresno City Council Member is calling for a lawsuit against the city’s school district, arguing that its refusal to reopen schools is damaging children’s mental health and goes against scientific evidence that in-person learning does not pose a serious health risk of spreading COVID-19.

Council Member Garry Bredefeld said he felt compelled to propose the lawsuit at next week’s city council meeting after hearing the pleas of parents whose children have been struggling to cope with the lockdowns.

“They call my office every day and they are pleading, crying (and) distraught, because their kids have been out of school now for almost a year,” Bredefeld told Fox News.

Bredefeld said over the summer his office called on the Fresno Unified School District (FUSD) to reopen schools. He cited research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics that said children are not serious transmitters of COVID-19.

“Now we’re seven months later and we’ve seen kids that are depressed, anxious, socially isolated, more involved in drugs now (and) kids in high school with suicide that is spiking,” Bredefeld said.

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Bredefeld chided Superintendent Bob Nelson and the Fresno School Board for their supposed inaction and for bowing to orders imposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“We know science proves from kids in schools all across the country that they don’t spread the disease. The CDC says they’re low transmitters. The CDC says kids don’t get severely impacted by COVID if they get it. So, there is no reason for these kids not to be in school,” Bredefeld said. “Just like there was no reason for the businesses and restaurants to be shut. It was all arbitrary. It was all politically motivated.

Bredefeld announced his plan to initiate a lawsuit on Facebook Wednesday morning. By the afternoon the post had received nearly 170 comments and more than 60 shares. Nearly all of the comments were laudatory.

FUSD, meanwhile, has defended its actions by pointing to the high case rates of COVID-19 in Fresno County. In a statement to Fox News, district spokesperson Vanessa Ramirez clarified that “we ALL want to back on campus with our Fresno Unified Family – but our return to in-person instruction must be done safely based on our local COVID-19 situation.”

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“Our strategic plan for reopening schools has always focused on the tenets of safety, stability, and high-quality instruction and will continue to do so,” Ramirez wrote.

She noted that as of Tuesday, the county’s case rate is 30.3 per 100,000 people – which she said is “higher than before we left for winter break when we had to shut down some academic and athletic small cohorts on campuses due to COVID-19 exposures.”

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“We know that these past 11 months have been challenging on our entire Fresno Unified Family and our students, families, and staff’s mental health are of utmost importance,” Ramirez said. “We have increased our mental health supports significantly during this time of distance learning specifically through partnerships with Care Solace and Gaggle which includes a 24/7 on-call team of our psychologists and counselors to respond to any student mental health emergencies.