A small group of Bellevue parents and students calling for school officials to resume in-person learning gathered for a rally on a busy downtown Bellevue intersection Wednesday.

The group, which calls itself “School is Essential,” is protesting school building shutdowns because they believe children’s mental health and academic progress is suffering. The group is comprised of Bellevue school district families who say they want the option of sending their kids to school for at least part of the week.

“I want my teachers to know I’m struggling in school and I need help,” said Brady Clines, 15, a freshman at Interlake High School in Bellevue.

The district was one of the largest to first announce it would allow younger children return to classes in school buildings. But in mid-October, the school district delayed those plans until at least January after King County’s infection rate spiked beyond the threshold that the state Department of Health recommends for starting hybrid school.

Qiang Sun, a founding member of the group and a parent, said the United States should follow the model set by European countries, keeping schools open amid the pandemic. He said that while he understands some teachers and school staff may need to still work remotely for health reasons, districts should come up with a balanced solution that includes taking all the necessary health precautions.

“If you let fear dictate your position, you’ll forget the cost of what’s happening,” he said.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the School Board decided to delay plans to expand in-person instruction. It was the school district.