Changes to SFUSD's COVID-Related Requirements
Published in Chinese in Sing Tao Daily.
By Dr. Vincent Matthews
San Francisco public schools strive to be places where students learn and thrive. Our schools are where lifelong connections are made and where safety is the top priority. Throughout this pandemic we have worked closely with some of the best health experts in the world right here in San Francisco to ensure we are keeping students and staff safe.
And if this pandemic has shown us anything, it's that it's important to be flexible and adjust our health protocols as needed in the best interest of both safety and learning.
As COVID-19 cases continue to drop rapidly, we are now at a point where public health officials say it is safe to drop some restrictions like masking in schools.
On March 12, California and the San Francisco Department of Public Health are adopting new indoor mask policies and moving from mask requirements to mask recommendations in schools.
SFUSD is following public health guidance and strongly recommending but not requiring masking at SFUSD middle and high schools as of March 12. PreK-5th graders and students who attend K-8 schools will see a change in masking requirements later on April 2, 2022 to allow more time for families to get their elementary age children vaccinated.
We have thought long and hard about this change, including consulting with our labor partners and public health experts.
San Franciscans are highly vaccinated and boosted, and we are seeing less severe forms of disease and much fewer hospitalizations. We have seen very few serious cases among children.
As a parent or guardian, you know what’s best for your family. You will always have the option to send your child to school in a mask, or wear a mask yourself if you are at school.
We do highly, highly recommend that everyone in your household get vaccinated and boosted when eligible – this is the best form of defense against the virus and protects everyone around you.
We’ve added many safety measures to our schools, such as thousands of portable air cleaners, reminding students and staff to stay home when sick, and using tests to stop the spread of the virus.
In alignment with public health recommendations, we plan to implement a group contact tracing approach starting March 24. Group tracing allows students who may have spent at least 15 minutes in the same indoor space as the person with COVID-19, while that person was contagious to stay in school unless they have or develop symptoms.
The group tracing approach recommends but does not require that those who may have been exposed get tested for COVID-19 3-5 days after the exposure, or right away if symptoms develop. This approach will allow more SFUSD students to remain at school for in-person instruction even when there is a known exposure to COVID. Many school districts are implementing this approach already.
To prepare for implementation, we have increased the inventory of test kits for home use, reduced wait times for test results, provided more personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff and students, and worked closely with SFDPH to offer vaccine clinics at several of our school sites.
We recognize changes in masking and contact tracing practices will be a transition for our community. Throughout this pandemic we have had to constantly change but I trust we are moving in the right direction when we follow the science.
This page was last updated on March 21, 2022