SFUSD Shares Updates on School Reopening Progress

SFUSD Shares Updates on School Reopening Progress

Press Release

San Francisco (October 21, 2020) - As the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) continues to prepare for a gradual return to in-person learning, Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews shared a new dashboard to monitor progress on key indicators for school buildings to safely reopen to students. In addition, the superintendent announced in person for preschool students and students with special needs is likely to begin no sooner than January 2021. 

This fall SFUSD staff have been delivering distance learning to 54,000 students while also planning for a safe return to in-person learning, taking into account the State and the City and County public health context as well as SFUSD’s context.

The District is preparing to open schools for in-person instruction to serve the following vulnerable populations: PreK-12 students who are assigned to moderate/severe special education classes (SPED), Early Education students, selected County Schools programs, and students enrolled in deaf and hard of hearing classes. Thereafter, the District will begin to open classrooms for students in Transitional Kindergarten, Kindergarten, and First Grade. The District plans to begin opening schools on a rolling basis starting with approximately 10 to 15 sites no sooner than January 2021.

The reopening dashboard for Phase 2a presented at the San Francisco Board of Education meeting Tuesday shows what work is in progress, what work is completed, and what work still needs to be done in order for students to return to in-person learning. The dashboard can be found on the SFUSD website

“I know some people are eager for our schools to offer in-person learning options, and we share the concern for our students,” Superintendent Matthews said. “With this dashboard we hope to increase transparency in our efforts to plan for a phased-in safe return to school buildings. Our greatest priority is ensuring the continued education of our students and the wellbeing of everyone in our community, including students, staff and their families.”

“I appreciate the complexity of bringing back staff and students in one of the state’s largest public school districts. It is important to proceed with the utmost care and attention to detail when it comes to the health of our students and staff,” said Mark Sanchez, President of the SF Board of Education. 

To prepare for students to return to schools, some of the work SFUSD has been doing (as indicated in the dashboard) includes conducting school site assessments regarding ventilation and classroom capacities in light of physical distancing and other safety measures, negotiating with various labor representatives related to returning to in-person instruction, and seeking providers who can conduct regular COVID surveillance testing.

“One major consideration we are grappling with now is the cost and operational logistics of testing staff at regular intervals to ensure proper monitoring and prevent the spread of COVID,” said Superintendent Matthews. “While we’re pursuing many options, we haven’t yet landed on a solution for this costly endeavor. SFUSD is not alone in facing this challenge; many of our colleagues at large school districts across the state are facing this. It’s worth noting that the per pupil allocation for school districts in California is among the lowest in the nation and when new expenditures arise, we have a lot less flexibility than states with nearly double the per pupil allocation, such as New York.” 

"UESF appreciates SFUSD’s updates about safe school reopening that were shared at the October 20 Board of Education meeting, as these are instrumental in assessing whether it is safe to reopen our schools. As much as we educators long to be with our students in person, it is crucial to have procedures and resources in place so that students and educators will be safe and healthy. It is painfully clear that the challenges we face in reopening are due to a lack of necessary resources, which is why it is so very important that we all vote to bring in funding for public schools and services. UESF educators will continue to do all we can for our students during this horrible crisis, and to work diligently with SFUSD to improve our students' lives, in crisis distance learning and in returning them to in-person instruction,” said Susan Solomon, President of the United Educators of San Francisco.  

View the dashboard here.

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