Health and Safety Protocols Frequently Asked Questions

Masking

Last updated Apr. 7, 2022

What is the current masking policy?

As of April 2, students, staff and visitors are not required to wear masks indoors per CDPH and SFDPH guidance at any SFUSD school or office. The guidance recommends but does not require mask wearing. Students, staff and visitors may choose to wear a mask as they see fit.

Is it safe for children and adults to remove masks at schools?

SFUSD has aligned our masking policy with local public health guidance, where masking is strongly recommended but not required. The rapid drop in COVID-19 cases in Spring 2022, the high number of vaccinated and boosted people in San Francisco, less severe forms of COVID-19, fewer hospitalizations, and very few serious cases among children are among the reasons cited by San Francisco Public Health Department for relaxing masking guidelines.

The best form of defense is for everyone eligible to get vaccinated and boosted. SFUSD is also implementing additional safety measures, such as keeping good air flow in classrooms, encouraging people to stay home when sick, and testing.

SFDPH will continue to monitor COVID-19 trends and bring back masking or other requirements if necessary.

How do I weigh whether to send my child to school in a mask or not?

You always have the option to send your child to school in a mask or wear a mask yourself at school. Masks continue to be strongly recommended at SFUSD, especially when case levels are high or increasing. 

Other factors to consider are if there are medically vulnerable or unvaccinated people in your household or your child's classroom or school who need additional protection. Additionally, consider your child's social and emotional needs regarding language development and socialization.

Above all else, please respect everyone's choices around masking and be supportive and understanding as we navigate this time of transition.

Are masks required on school buses?

No, masks are not required to be worn on buses or vans operated by public or private school systems, including early care and education/child care programs. 

Are masks required when playing indoor sports or performing?

No, masks are not required. Masks are strongly recommended indoors at all times when participants are not actively practicing, conditioning, competing, or performing. Masks are also strongly recommended indoors while on the sidelines, in team meetings, and within locker rooms and weight rooms. Student and staff may choose to wear masks as they see fit. Bell coverings for wind instruments are recommended in the guidelines. Students may choose to use bell coverings as they see fit.

Are masks required for spectators indoors?

No, masks are not required.  Masks are strongly recommended indoors for all spectators and observers.  Spectators and observers may choose to wear masks as they see fit

General Health and Safety Protocols

Last updated Apr. 20, 2022

Where can we get information about SFUSD's health and safety protocols?

Check out SFUSD.edu/COVID19 to review the most up-to-date information for students and families to stay safe at school. Families can review the Health and Safety section of the website to learn more about current COVID-19 guidelines and protocols. 

How do I measure the risks associated with sending my child(ren) to in-person school?

Based on data released by the SF Department of Public Health, COVID-19 case rates among children and youth are low. When appropriate precautions are taken, schools are safe places that provide structured and supervised environments where children and youth can play, learn, and thrive. 

Please review the a video of General Questions with Dr. Matthews/SFUSD and Dr. Philip/SFDPH (recorded on January 28th, 2022) for more information.

Will hand washing stations or hand sanitizer be available?

Yes. PPE will be available at school sites, along with hand soap and sanitizer to maintain healthy hand washing habits at school.

How do we support medically vulnerable and unvaccinated people?

SFUSD continues to work closely with SF Department of Public Health to enact an equity-driven approach to support those in our community who are highly impacted by the virus. This includes people who are medically vulnerable, people not yet eligible for vaccines, and communities and neighborhoods most disparately impacted.

SFUSD has been working with our partners to increase testing capacities, distribute at-home test kits, and expanding access to vaccination by hosting vaccine clinics at SFUSD schools. 

As an individual, you can support those around you by getting vaccinated and boosted if eligible, wearing a mask and testing when gathering with vulnerable people, opening windows, and gathering outdoors.

How can we prevent disruptions to in-person learning because of COVID-19?

SFUSD continues to rely on several measures to prevent disruption to in-person learning. Our shift to group contact tracing on Mar. 24 will help more students who are close contacts stay in school as long as they do not have symptoms. SFUSD has scaled up testing capabilities, and will continue to make testing easily accessible during the implementation of group tracing. We also continue to encourage everyone eligible to get vaccinated and boosted.

What are the necessary precautions taken by SFUSD to prevent more positive cases?

SFUSD continues working with the SF Department of Public Health to implement strategies such as COVID-19 testing, improved ventilation, and encouraging vaccination to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, SFUSD has mandated that all staff get vaccinated or get tested weekly.

If adults need to be in close contact with their students, what is the data saying about the new variants in regards to spreading COVID-19 to our medically fragile or unvaccinated students?

This includes examples such as: a 1-to-1 para supporting with and changing feeding tubes, changing diapers, needing to push wheelchairs, fix hearing aids, or keeping those students who elope within close proximity.

COVID-19 vaccines are the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and all known variants. Additional mitigation efforts such as mask-wearing can further reduce the risk of transmission for adults when in close proximity with students. Children with known COVID-19 contacts or some illness symptoms will still be asked to stay home. Data from the 2020-2021 school year suggests that asymptomatic children are extremely unlikely to transmit COVID-19 to an adult at school, even prior to vaccination availability for adults. 

Will visitors be allowed on school sites?

Yes. The protocol for visitors at sites, including family drop-off and pick-up and volunteers, will be same as the protocol before the pandemic. Please note that volunteers should follow vaccination requirements.

Can parents come to the school site at anytime?

Yes, per current public health guidance, family and community members may come onto school campus following the Student and Family Handbook guidelines for visiting a school as long as they follow masking and check-in protocols.  

Are families allowed on school sites?

Yes, families caregivers may enter the building for pick-up and drop-off, even if they are not up to date on vaccination for COVID-19.

Are families allowed to volunteer at school sites?

Volunteers are allowed at SFUSD sites. As of August 10, 2021, the SFUSD Health and Safety Directive Requiring COVID-19 Vaccination requires that all staff, interns, contractors and volunteers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before physically accessing District facilities.  Contractors and volunteers who are not yet fully COVID-19 vaccinated will be required to submit to at least weekly testing. SFUSD does not have the capacity to provide the weekly testing for unvaccinated interns, contractors and volunteers. Please refer to the vaccination FAQs

What are some of the health and safety protocols in place for before and afterschool care providers?

SFUSD requires all service providers to be fully vaccinated. Those who qualify for a medical or religious exemption must have a negative COVID-19 test administered within 72 hours of the first time entering a school, then weekly thereafter. In addition, all service providers must follow San Francisco Department of Public Health guidelines. Service providers can learn more about these requirements at the MOU information page, and review the vaccination FAQs for service providers for more information.

The Out of School Time programs that are operated by SFUSD are also required to follow SF Department of Public Health guidelines. If you enroll your child into these programs, the Early Education Department will provide information on health and safety protocols.

What happens if we have to close schools again?

The decision to close schools for any reason is complex and difficult and can only be made by the Superintendent of Schools (not individual school sites). SFUSD is committed to sharing information on school closures as soon as possible in the event it is necessary to close schools, whether due to health and safety, inclimate weather or other hazards. 

What kind of contigency plan does SFUSD have for potential surge of COVID-19 cases?

SFUSD is partnering with medical experts at the SF Department of Public Health and UCSF to inform District health and safety policies to address the impact of COVID-19. SFUSD is also working closely with SFDPH to monitor and track COVID-19 trends in San Francisco. SFUSD will adhere to local and state public health guidance and will share information with families as it becomes available. 

How will flu season impact school closures since flu and cold symptoms are so similar to COVID-19?

It is unlikely that schools will be closed due to flu season. The flu virus is also a respiratory virus like COVID-19. Therefore, in addition to preventing COVID-19 transmission, healthy habits such as frequent handwashing and mitigation strategies like masking can also reduce the spread of the flu virus. Medical experts have highlighted the importance of getting your child's immunization records up to date, including the yearly flu shot. You should work with your pediatricians to ensure that you are fulfilling the health requirements for your child(ren) to come to school. SFUSD is committed to providing free and accessible COVID-19 vaccination opportunities to all who are eligible. 

Some schools do not have an assigned nurse on-site to support the COVID related duties. Are there plans to increase the number of nurses across the district, especially at sites where there aren't nurses?

SFUSD has more nurses per student than most other public school districts in California but we still do not have one nurse at every site and there is a staffing shortage. COVID protocols for schools can (and often are) implemented by school staff who are not trained health professionals. With SFDPH, SFUSD has developed a set of protocols to respond to COVID-19 related incidents. Each school has a designated staff person who is responsible for coordinating with Central office and SFDPH in the event of a positive case. SFUSD staff meet with the Health Department Schools Response Team daily, which provides an opportunity to review each case individually and provide detailed recommendations. The Health Department will also reach out to the family of a student who tested positive to offer additional resources if needed. Families can also reach out to the Nurse of the Day through the Student Family and School Resource Link for additional support and information. 

Can schools organize school wide events?

Festivals, performances, tours, open houses, and other events that involve families are allowed. Keep a log of all persons who attend. This will be helpful if someone at an event, tour or open house later tests positive for COVID-19.

Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test is no longer required for mega-events, defined as events with a thousand people or more.

Are field trips allowed?

All restrictions have been removed for day trips. Staff and students can go on field trips to outdoor or indoor destinations. If shared vehicles or public transportation is used, follow the same policies and guidance outlined in Administrative Regulation 6153 School-Sponsored Trips.

Overnight trips are allowed under the conditions set forth in AR 6153 School-Sponsored Trips:

  • Students can now share rooms, and schools will make a separate room available for any student or staff who exhibits symptoms while on the trip.
  • Testing is strongly recommended 48 hours prior to day of departure.

Physical Distancing and Cohorting

Last updated Mar. 16, 2022

Is social distancing required at any time such as during drop-off/pick-up?

Social distancing is not required at SFUSD sites.

Why are physical distancing requirements and cohorting not necessary?

There are no longer physical distancing and cohorting requirements, which is aligned with local and state public health guidance. Studies show that vaccination and adequate ventilation will be effective for mitigating the transmission and spread of COVID-19.

This page was last updated on April 20, 2022