Dear SFUSD Families,
I hope you and your loved ones are enjoying a safe and peaceful winter break.
As we prepare to return to school in the new year on January 3, 2022, I am reaching out to remind you of the health and safety measures we all need to follow to curb the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that our schools remain healthy, safe, and welcoming environments.
With increased travel and gatherings in new environments over the holiday season and the highly-contagious Omicron variant, COVID-19 is spreading. Getting vaccinated is an important way to prevent the worst symptoms of COVID-19, and we strongly encourage anyone who is 5 years and older to get vaccinated today. SFUSD is committed to making COVID-19 vaccines free and accessible to eligible individuals in our community, and is partnering with the San Francisco Department of Public Health to help eligible students ages 5-18 get vaccinated.
As you have heard, the Omicron variant is highly contagious and spreading rapidly. If you are fully vaccinated, getting a COVID-19 booster keeps your immunity stronger against the worst symptoms of COVID-19 and variants. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer booster vaccine for 16 and 17 year olds, and Bay Area public health agencies urge anyone who is eligible for a COVID-19 booster to receive one today. Get your booster today.
Proactive testing before returning to school can help prevent exposures, outbreaks and unnecessary missed days for SFUSD staff and students. While it is not a requirement, SFDPH has recommended that all students and staff get tested for COVID-19 one to two days before returning to school regardless of vaccination status, even if you are without symptoms.
SFUSD strongly encourages staff and students to take a COVID-19 test at any location where it is available before returning to school, which includes:
- Your primary health care provider
- Community and public testing sites (visit sf.gov/gettested or call SFDPH COVID Resource Center at 628-652-2700 for locations and schedule)
SFUSD is working closely with public health agencies to make more testing options available to students and families in preparation for returning to school, and will continue to offer COVID-19 testing for the SFUSD community through Color and Safer Together (Jan 2-9) in the new year.
Behaviors that Reduce Spread
As we return to school, SFUSD will continue to implement a layered approach to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our schools. All students and adults must wear a mask or face covering that covers their nose, mouth and chin at all times, except while eating, drinking, or taking a nap. Only individuals with a documented medical reason to not wear a face covering will be exempt. A well-fitted mask that can be comfortably worn is still most important. Please review the guidelines for masking, available in multiple languages on our website. PPE will be available at schools.
Students and staff will continue to frequently wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer at school, which will be provided.
A reminder to send your child with extra warm clothes so that we can continue to keep windows open as much as possible for improved ventilation.
When Someone Gets Sick
SFUSD will continue to implement health and safety guidelines to help keep schools safe from COVID-19 through a layered approach.
- Families and students should conduct a daily health screening everyday before school, and stay home when sick.
- SFUSD will continue to implement protocols for if/when there is a positive case at our schools– we will take appropriate actions to isolate and quarantine impacted students and staff, and notify you as soon as information is available.
- Absences will be excused, and families can request short-term independent study, if students are missing school due to COVID-19 quarantine or isolation– watch this video and review these FAQs to learn more.
The SF Department of Public Health (SFDPH) has assured us that San Francisco is relatively well positioned to handle COVID-19 and its variants because of our high vaccination rates, our high booster uptake, and other local health measures such as masking and testing.
We recognize that as long as there is COVID-19 in the community, there will be cases in our schools. Let’s do our part to help keep our schools and community healthy by getting vaccinated and boosted and staying home when sick.
We are excited to welcome our students back to school on January 3, 2022.
Dr. Vincent Matthews