December 9, 2020

December 9, 2020

Dear SFUSD Staff:

Schools are places for interaction and connection, and there are critical components that must be in place for in-person learning to happen safely. At last night’s Board of Education meeting, I shared SFUSD’s Return Safely Together Plan. More information will be shared as we continue to prepare in all areas on the dashboard

Returning to our school campuses involves modifying learning plans and bell schedules, developing and deploying appropriate protocols and training for employees, providing sufficient cleaning and supplies for all sites, and instituting prevention measures and changes to facilities among so many other things.

This is new for all of us and it’s important that we approach this work in a systematic and thoughtful way, providing opportunities for us to learn and make adjustments and improvements along the way.

Please keep reading today’s digest for more important updates.


Explore SFUSD Professional Learning Opportunities

  • Ready to grow your professional practice and your teacher toolkit? SFUSD Professional Learning Opportunities are now easily searchable! Find live and recorded webinars, office hours, and asynchronous modules on topics from digital tools for reading interventions to better engaging students in science in virtual spaces! 
  • Visit the Professional Learning webpage to find current opportunities on the PD Calendar. 

Technology Updates to Support Distance Learning: Hangouts, Gradebook/Classroom, Zoom, and Seesaw

Alternatives to Hangouts for Student Collaboration

  • Hangouts access for 3rd-8th grade students recently switched to an opt-in model for schools as we aim to balance student safety and opportunities for collaboration, as well as in preparation for when Google deactivates Hangouts sometime after April 2021.
  • If Hangouts is not on for your site, there are other ways to support students with communicating and collaborating with each other:
  • If you would like Hangouts on for your students in grades 3-8 at your site, a site administrator can fill out this Google Hangouts Site Access Acknowledgement Form. Filling out this form will grant access to 3rd grade and above.

Synergy Gradebook and Google Classroom Syncing Reminders

Teachers! Sync your Synergy Gradebook and Google Classroom so grades and assignments are recorded in both systems. 

  • If you have not synced yet, we advise that you sync before December 17 to ensure you get timely help prior to the end of the Fall Grading Term.
  • Setting up your Gradebook for the Spring term? We advise you to sync for the beginning of the term for greater ease of use.
  • Not sure if you want to sync? Synergy has made improvements with the sync process with the latest 12/5 upgrade. To learn more about the benefits of syncing and how to sync, review the Synergy and Google Sync Guide, Synergy and Google Sync Self Paced Slide Deck, or attend Digital Learning Team office hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 12-1pm for any Synergy specific questions.

Improvements and Changes to Zoom: Security, Signing In, and Names

Starting December 15, SFUSD will be using a safer and easier method to log in to Zoom for students.

  • For most staff, security settings will be on by default for new meetings.
  • All staff who have permission to invite external guests will still be able to turn on/off security based on your meeting needs. 
    • Staff with external permission will be emailed directly to let them know about this change and request that they check previously-scheduled meetings.
  • Meetings guests will appear with the same name they have in Google and other SFUSD systems.
    • This typically applies to students, but also applies to other adults who are not the meeting host.
    • Adults may request a “preferred name” for themselves, or on behalf of students who have a name preference.

Prepare for Seesaw Classroom for Winter Break and Beyond!

Deadline for In-Person Registration Survey for Phase 2A Families

SFUSD emailed Phase 2A families an important survey on Dec. 2. Families who have a child in a Phase 2A student group are asked to respond by Fri, Dec. 11. If your student’s family can't find the email and their child is in one of these groups, please reach out to your principal as they have received student lists with personalized survey links for each student. More information about the survey can be found in this FAQ.

We are grateful to families for sharing their preference at this time so we can plan for the number of students we are serving in-person at the end of January (or later). We recognize that families have a lot of unanswered questions and that more specifics would help with making an informed decision. 

Many details depend on students, staff, safety and space: how many families choose to return to in-person (number of students); which school a child attends (safety protocols and space); and what agreements are reached with the teachers union and other labor partners (staff).  

Write Thank You Notes to our School Food Servers 

Student Nutrition Services staff have provided over 4 million meals for children since school buildings closed in March. 

  • On Friday, December 18, we are inviting the community to write a note or make some artwork and drop it off for staff at SFUSD’s Grab and Go meal sites! 
  • You can also pick up 7 days’ worth of free meals, including pomegranates, mandarins, pears, sweet potatoes, and more!
  • Friday, December 18, 2-3:30 p.m. Locations:


Inclusive Schools Week

Inclusive Schools Week activities are currently happening all across the district. 

  • The Inclusive Schools Week Online Arts Showcase is now live. Check out the amazing pieces by our community!.
  • Nearly 2,000 people have signed up to participate in virtual assemblies with the SFUSD PE Department and Special Olympics of Northern California. It's not too late to sign up for the virtual assemblies on Thursday and Friday - register here.
  • Check out our Inclusion Bitmoji Classroom to learn more about Inclusion, Special Education and disability heroes!
  • For more information about how you can join SFUSD Inclusive Schools Week events and celebrations happening across the district visit

Bright Spot

Over 770 students, parents, and teachers attended this morning's virtual workout with Sourdough Sam, the 49ers, and Special Olympics athletes as part of Inclusive Schools Week! I’m inspired by the creative ways our schools have been working to build community during these times.

Warm regards,

Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews