SFUSD Shares Planning Process for Return to In-Person Learning
San Francisco (September 24, 2020) - The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) Superintendent and San Francisco Board of Education discussed the District’s planning process for a return to in-person instruction this week.
The District has begun the fall semester with distance learning and is preparing to move into a hybrid model for small groups of priority students once science and data suggest it is safe to do so.
In order for SFUSD to reopen school buildings for in-person instruction, the City needs to meet certain public health indicators. In addition, SFUSD’s Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews outlined several factors that will need to be in place, including an adequate testing plan, staff training, students and families informed of protocols, a minimum of three months of PPE for all participating staff and students, and labor agreements. Once all of these factors are in place, SFUSD will submit an application to the City to reopen for priority student populations.
“Distance learning is not a substitute for the in-person school experience. The intent of distance learning is and continues to be to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said. “We want to safely return to in-person instruction. Our district team is working diligently to deliver remote instruction while also putting everything in place to offer an in-person learning option to students most in need.”
Superintendent Matthews shared the planning team’s decision-tree for Phase 2A (Small Cohort/Group Return) and Phase 2B (priority populations). Under Phase 2A, SFUSD is preparing for a gradual return for a small cohort of students focusing first on the District’s youngest students (early elementary) and students with disabilities in moderate/severe special day classes. Homeless and foster youth and those who have shown the lowest overall online engagement would be the next focal population once the conditions for Phase 2B have been met.
“We are committed to the health and safety of our students and staff. I see how hard everyone is working to make the best decisions under these dire and unprecedented circumstances,” said Board President Mark Sanchez.
School buildings are being utilized now in a variety of ways including as work spaces for educators who have requested a place to provide distance learning as well as ongoing meals and learning materials distributions for students.
As part of its preparations, SFUSD is developing health and safety protocols for in-person learning which include screening students each morning; designating an “isolation area” for anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms; creating protocols to limit the sharing of objects and supplies; offering school meals in smaller, controlled settings; posting signage promoting safe practices; cleaning and disinfecting all high-touch surfaces daily; arranging classroom furniture to allow for 6 foot social distancing; minimizing non-essential visitors and volunteers to school sites; requiring face coverings to be worn indoors at all times for students 3rd - 12th grades; providing employees whose job duties may require additional personal protective equipment; training employees and students on hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette; and conducting daily health questionnaires for staff to affirm they are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms prior to entering a building or office space.
In addition to providing updates to the Board of Education at public meetings and on its website, SFUSD regularly meets with community groups, parent committees, the Department of Public Health and other City officials as well as employee representatives to share proposals and gather feedback.
"San Francisco educators remain committed to getting back to in person learning as soon as it is safe to do so. Right now we are focused on fully understanding what all of the benchmarks are and how we can get our more vulnerable students back as soon as possible,” United Educators of San Francisco President Susan Solomon said. "We expect this to be a multi phased hybrid process and we will continue to work with District leadership to ensure that our educators, students and families are involved in the process and up to date as plans are finalized. We love and miss being with our students in person, and are looking forward to the day when it is safe to be with them again."
View the full presentation to the Board of Education.