Mayor London Breed and Superintendent Matthews Announce Partnership to Provide Testing to Support School Site Reopening

Mayor London Breed and Superintendent Matthews Announce Partnership to Provide Testing to Support School Site Reopening

Press Release

SF’s Department of Children, Youth and their Families will provide funding to support surveillance testing for school employees as part of SFUSD’s Return Safely Plan

Partnership includes working with the community-based Latino Task Force and under the guidance of the Department of Public Health

San Francisco, CA (December 29, 2020) - Mayor London N. Breed and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) today announced the City’s new partnership in providing COVID-19 surveillance testing for SFUSD employees in preparation for SFUSD’s reopening of school sites and return to in-person learning. SFUSD is working with the SF Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Latino Task Force (LTF) to support testing and site assessment. This testing support, which includes funding from the Department of Children, Youth and their Families (DCYF), is part of how the City is continuing to work with the District to support staff and students in preparation for the return of in-person learning next year.

"We know that getting our students safely back in the classroom is an absolute top priority for our City and our School District right now,” said Mayor London Breed. “While we all need to continue to do our part right now to get this current surge under control, we also need to keep moving forward in putting the pieces in place to support getting our schools reopened next year, including  having the right testing program. Everyone has been working so hard over these last months – our students, our families, and our teachers -- to get through this pandemic, and I know none of this has been easy. We are committed to doing everything we can to get our schools open safely for in-person learning once again.”

The City continues to dedicate staffing and resources to support the school district in the reopening of public schools sites. In November, at the request of SFUSD and under the Mayor’s direction, a School Site Assessment Team comprised of City Disaster Service Workers (DSWs) joined SFUSD staff to continue to assess school facilities on a classroom by classroom basis for their readiness to receive students and staff for in-person learning during this pandemic. These evaluations included things like operability of classroom windows; type of classroom furniture; presence of functional hand washing sinks; and basic working condition of the classroom. These site assessments  provided valuable data on school site readiness for a hybrid or full in-person learning school day which informed SFUSD’s Letter of Interest submitted to DPH to reopen over 70 elementary schools across the City.

“We are grateful for the expertise and additional resources provided by the Mayor, city agencies and the Latino Task Force to help us meet the new demands of operating schools during the pandemic,” SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said. “Surveillance testing of our staff is key to being ready to serve students in-person.”

In compliance with DPH’s testing recommendation guidance, SFUSD entered into an agreement with Curative Lab, which will support the District’s plans for having a COVID testing program for school staff.  A testing program, along with ensuring classrooms are ready, are key steps in preparing for reopening. 

“The City and County of San Francisco is proud to support SFUSD employees by expanding critical access to COVID-19 testing to ensure we are moving forward in the reopening of school classrooms for our City’s students,” said DCYF Director Maria Su. “We have learned through the Community Hubs Initiative that our City and Community partners can provide in-person learning supports with the safety, health and well-being of our City’s children, youth and staff at the center. We have come together in the spirit of unity and collaboration across city government, the school district, public health, community-based organizations and private sector partners to serve our communities.”

The SF Latino Task Force (LTF) joined the City and SFUSD in this effort to provide guidance and best practices following the successful implementation of a community COVID-19 testing site at the  LTF Resource Hub.  LTF will provide operational support to stand up COVID-19 surveillance testing at SFUSD’s sites to ensure that school staff will have access to this resource. Since July 2020, the LTF Resource Hub provided free walk-thru COVID-19 testing, food distribution and other essential services to the community. DPH and the Latino Task Force worked together to provide a comprehensive and culturally integrated community-based approach which included a Community Wellness Team composed of bilingual, Spanish-speaking community workers.

“The SF Latino Task Force has been on the frontlines helping administer testing to some of the hardest hit areas in SF since the pandemic began. To date, we’ve helped launch numerous sites providing over 25,000 tests citywide,” said LTF Coordinator Valerie Tulier-Laiwa. “We are excited to extend our work by partnering with DCYF and SFUSD. We understand that children, youth and families are eager to return to in-person instruction, and providing COVID testing is a crucial step in ensuring safety during this time.”

The new testing sites for SFUSD will initially start at 555 Franklin Street, SFUSD’s Administrative Office and be open to all employees and then will gradually expand to other parts of the City as needed. The program will prioritize SFUSD staff who work at the schools opening for in-person learning in the first phase of SFUSD’s rollout plan. Testing will take place on a regular schedule that will be announced as the start of in-person learning nears. Employees will be able to pre-register their personal information online before arriving at the testing sites, and results will be shared via email and text within 48-72 hours.

While the staff testing plan, site assessments and other actions are helping SFUSD prepare, the district announced that it could not meet its initial target of January 25, 2021 to begin returning small cohorts. When school resumes on January 5, 2021, SFUSD will continue to provide distance learning.