SFUSD Updates Timeline for In-Person Learning
San Francisco (December 18, 2020) - While there has been steady progress in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD)’s work to prepare for a safe return to in-person learning during the pandemic, progress has been slower on actions and plans that are dependent on SFUSD completing bargaining with the labor organizations that represent district employees, and SFUSD will not begin its phased approach and reopen the first 12 schools to in-person instruction on January 25, 2021 as originally proposed.
Throughout the fall, SFUSD has shared its aim to gradually bring back some students as long as all of the conditions in the Phase 2A decision tree are met. Progress has been made in a number of areas, including:
- Every classroom in the first school buildings proposed to reopen has been assessed for ventilation, physical distancing, etc.;
- A letter of interest to reopen schools has been submitted to the SF Department of Public Health;
- Families in Phase 2A have been surveyed to identify those who wish to return to in-person;
- Staff COVID-19 testing has begun; and
- We have a 3-month supply of physical protection equipment (PPE) for each school site.
In September, the District began talks with labor groups by sharing criteria for reopening. These criteria included steps to prepare health and safety protocols as required by public health experts, including the district’s criteria for reopening (the Phase 2A and 2B decision trees).
On December 15, SFUSD labor unions shared a new set of health and safety criteria they would like to see the district follow before any return to in-person learning. While many of these requests are consistent with what SFUSD has been preparing for, there are significant new requests proposed that go beyond the Department of Public Health’s guidance. The District cannot meet all of the new requirements SFUSD’s labor unions have proposed, and there is not sufficient time to complete bargaining in order to reopen any school sites on January 25, 2021.
Most significantly, labor groups have proposed that no staff or students return to in-person learning until the City and County is in the state’s orange tier, indicating “moderate” spread of COVID-19, for 14 consecutive days. This differs from the plan adopted by the Board of Education and permitted under state and local health orders, which allow schools in counties rated in the most restrictive purple tier to reopen for in-person instruction if they receive a waiver.
“This pandemic has required us to live with a great deal of uncertainty and it’s simply not over yet,” SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said. “I am disappointed that we cannot offer a guaranteed date for when we can resume in-person learning for our youngest and most vulnerable students. We will continue to work hard to offer a safe in-person learning opportunity to our students and will meet as much as possible with our labor partners to complete bargaining.”
SFUSD will continue to prepare so that the District can safely resume in-person learning in alignment with public health guidance and all the indicators in its dashboard, including completing bargaining with its labor partners.
SFUSD begins Winter Break on December 21. When school resumes on January 5, 2021, SFUSD schools will continue to provide distance learning.