Update Regarding Plans for In-Person Learning

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Dear SFUSD Family:

We are reaching out regarding our planning process for a gradual return to in-person learning. First, I want to thank you for your patience. This has been and remains a very challenging time and we know that there are a range of feelings about the possibility of returning to in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We will not reopen any schools until we can implement all health and safety measures recommended by the SF Department of Public Health. When we are ready to offer in-person learning, families will have a choice about whether to return to in person or stay in distance learning. 

If all the health and safety indicators are met, we are planning to gradually begin offering in-person learning for students enrolled in certain grades and programs at a set of schools. We cannot safely invite all students to return to in-person learning at the same time because we need to adhere to social distancing and other safety guidelines and ensure schools and classrooms are equipped with the necessary safety materials. 

Which students and schools will be the first to have the option to return to in-person learning? 

We are currently aiming to open the first group of schools (Wave 1 schools) January 25, 2021 and more schools (Wave 2) on February 8. These schools will open classes to students in PK/EED and Mod/Severe SDC first. Some weeks after, those same schools will open to their students in TK-2nd grade. A list of the first and second wave of schools we plan to open for the above named student groups can be found online. Please note any date to reopen is subject to change based on many factors including the prevalence of COVID in our community and agreements with our teachers union and other labor groups.

How will more schools and students be added?

We’ll be gradually adding additional students and schools. At this time, we are still planning more details related to in-person options for other student populations and we do not have a definitive target date identified for returning. These student populations in phase 2 do not have a set return date yet: Grade 6-13 Moderate/Severe SDC Classrooms, Autism, students demonstrating limited online engagement, students experiencing homelessness, students in foster care and all other 2nd-5th grade students. We are also planning for what an in-person option can look like for secondary students in Phase 3, including middle and high school students not enrolled in programs identified in Phase 2. 

These efforts take time and resources to roll out and safety is not something we want to compromise. Following the first group of schools to open, we are planning to welcome back focal student groups from another set of schools. Please understand these plans are subject to change depending on labor agreements, public health guidance, and other shifts impacting in-person safety measures. 

How students in the first groups (Phase 2A) will be assigned

Students will have the option to opt out of in-person learning and continue to engage in online distance learning. For those who choose to return to in-person, every effort will be made to prioritize students attending in-person at the school in which they are enrolled; however, locations and instructors may change depending on the number of students and staff who elect in-person instruction. Due to the number of limited in-person learning spaces for PreK, SFUSD will follow Title 5 State mandates and prioritize in-person learning for families who qualify based on need and eligibility. Any remaining open seats will be offered to students who will be entering TK or Kindergarten for the 2021-2022 school year. 

Health and safety

Students will be in small cohorts to minimize exposure -- classrooms will have a 14:1 in person ratio (there will be no more than 14 students per teacher). All schools will follow the health and safety guidelines set forth by the SF Department of Public Health. These include ensuring proper ventilation, cleaning protocols and physical distancing. More information about all of the health and safety protocols SFUSD will have in place will be provided in the coming weeks. 

Next steps

By early December, we will be sending a questionnaire to families with students in the first phase of in-person learning (Phase 2 in SFUSD’s Fall Learning Plan) to understand their specific interest in returning to in-person. This information is critical to our planning process. Families and students will have the option to opt out of in-person learning and continue to engage in online distance learning. 

More information  

More information about the planning process underway related to in-person learning can be found online at sfusd.edu. Here are some additional Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to in-person learning.

If you need assistance, please reach out to the Student and Family Resource Link. You may complete an online request form; email a request at familylink@sfusd.edu; or call 415-340-1716 (phones are answered Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m., except school holidays). 

Thank you for the many ways that you are supporting your children –– I appreciate all that you are doing to care for them now. We will get through this together.


Superintendent Matthews

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